I am delighted to welcome fellow member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, Julie Stock, back to the blog with her new release, The Vineyard in Alsace. I had plenty of questions to ask her, but first, take a look at this gorgeous cover and the blurb . . .
Is there really such a thing as a second chance at love?
Fran Schell has only just become engaged when she finds her fiancé in bed with another woman. She knows this is the push she needs to break free of him and to leave London. She applies for her dream job on a vineyard in Alsace, in France, not far from her family home, determined to concentrate on her work.
Didier Le Roy can hardly believe it when he sees that the only person to apply for the job on his vineyard is the same woman he once loved but let go because of his stupid pride. Now estranged from his wife, he longs for a second chance with Fran if only she will forgive him for not following her to London.
Working so closely together, Fran soon starts to fall in love with Didier all over again. Didier knows that it is now time for him to move on with his divorce if he and Fran are ever to have a future together. Can Fran and Didier make their second chance at love work despite all the obstacles in their way?
The Vineyard in Alsace is a contemporary romance set against the enticing backdrop of the vineyard harvest in Alsace in France.
And now to find out more . . .
I love the sound of that, Julie! So tell me, what was the initial spark of an idea that set you off writing The Vineyard in Alsace?
There were a few things actually. Firstly, I wanted to set my second book in France, a country that’s very dear to my heart, but I wanted it to be somewhere that hardly ever gets written about. I’ve been to Alsace a number of times and love the wine too so that was that bit sorted! Secondly, in a former life, I worked for a wine merchant and while I was there, I studied for a Wine and Spirit Education Trust Diploma and travelled to a few different vineyards as part of my job as well. So it seemed a good, and perhaps obvious, idea to set my book on a vineyard in Alsace.
I’ve never been to Alsace. It sounds like a fantastic setting for a romance. And that sounds like a fascinating job to have once had. How lovely, to be able to work something unusual like that into your current work!
The book is about a second chance with a former love. What made you want to explore that particular theme?
When I wrote the first 80,000 words of this book, it was a completely different story, involving two sisters living in the UK who then find out that one of them was adopted. They go back to France to try and trace the sister’s birth mother. On that trip, Fran bumps into a former love and they get back together. He owns a vineyard as well. For many reasons, I just couldn’t get the original story to work the way I wanted it to so I ended up cutting half the book and starting again. I really liked the idea of ‘what if someone met their former love after some years apart and fell in love with them all over again?’ so that was the theme that I kept.
Gosh, that’s such a lot of work to ‘lose’ and so brave of you! But it sounds like you ended up with a brilliant story in the end.
Which aspects of Fran and Didier’s characters did you enjoy writing the most? Did anything about them surprise you as they developed?
I liked the way that Fran develops more confidence in herself as the story progresses and that it’s Didier who brings that out in her. Despite all that’s happened to her, she grows as a person and knows what she wants second time round. As for Didier, he is angry at his estranged wife at the start of the story but manages to admit that later on and they both do what’s best for their daughter in the end. Their reconciliation did surprise me because that’s not what I had planned originally but I’m glad I went with that in the final version.
This book is set in France, obviously, but your previous novel involved Nashville. Do you always research and visit the area your books are set in?
When I wrote From Here to Nashville, I hadn’t actually been to the place myself but I did lots of very thorough research on the internet, which made everything a lot easier. I did get there just a couple of months after my book came out and I checked every reference to make sure I hadn’t made any mistakes. Luckily, it was all fine and I’ve had some lovely reviews from people who know it better than me so it must be okay!
I had been to Alsace several times before but I went again just before the book was finalised so I could put in some extra details as well.
My next book is set in Devon so that will be a bit easier!
As a romance author, are you a hopeless romantic? Or is there a little good-humoured cynicism in there?
I really am a hopeless romantic. I want everyone to have their happy ever after ending and I get very upset when they don’t, if that’s what I’m expecting. Without mentioning any names, there was a film out recently that led me to believe there would be a HEA and then didn’t provide one for the characters and I was very cross! For me, romantic fiction or movies should be about escapism and should leave you feeling all loved up at the end. Having said all that, some of my favourite books and films (Romeo and Juliet, Me Before You, The Time Traveler’s Wife) are ones where the main characters don’t have a happy ending but then I wasn’t expecting one – so in my book, that’s okay!
I must admit, I’m a dreadful sucker for a dash of escapism and a happy ending 🙂
Finally, can you tell us something weird or surprising about yourself?
I have a lazy right eye with virtually no vision in it so my left eye does all the work. When I was young, I had a whole host of interesting glasses, including one pair, which made me a dead ringer for Deirdre from Coronation Street! But as soon as contact lenses came along, I went for that option instead because I am quite vain! However, I only wear the one lens in my left eye because there’s no point with the right.
Ha! The glasses I wore when I was about nineteen – and had the obligatory Eighties perm – made me look like Su Pollard from Hi-Di-Hi, according to one of my brothers 😀
Thanks so much for hosting me on your blog again, Helen. It’s been lovely to catch up with you.
Thank you for visiting, Julie. It’s lovely to hear all about your latest book 🙂
You can buy The Vineyard in Alsace at these links:
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Julie Stock is an author of contemporary romance from around the world: novels, novellas and short stories. She indie published her debut novel, From Here to Nashville, in February 2015 and has just published her second novel, The Vineyard in Alsace. A follow-up novella to From Here to Nashville is also in progress, as well as the next novel.
She is a proud member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association.
When she is not writing, she works part-time for a charity as a communications officer, and freelance as a web designer and supply teacher. She is married and lives with her family in Bedfordshire in the UK.