Welcome, Corinne LaBalme!
Avis: Welcome, Corinne LaBalme! I’m so happy we get to learn more about you and your fabulous book, French Ghost. Let’s begin with a little bio from Corinne.
Corinne LaBalme lives in France and loves everything about it… except eating snails. Her articles about European fashion, food and fun destinations have appeared in The New York Times Travel section, Diversion, La Belle France and France Revisited. Her favorite place to write? Any Parisian café with a good croissant connection…
Avis: How fascinating, and I envy you your food choices. Yummy! So, let’s get to the questions, shall we? What literary pilgrimages have you gone on?
Corinne: Despite having several ‘real human’ friends who studied at Oxford, I trekked to the British university town solely to see where Lyra Belacqua (the gallant dimension-shifter from Phillip Pullman’s His Dark Materials) grew up; where playboy Sebastian Flyte (Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited) played hooky; and where Lord Peter Wimsey (the suave Sherlock from Dorothy L. Sayers’ detective fiction) actually attended a few classes
On the Wimsey front, it was fabulous to finally see the punts (small flat gondola-type river boats) which are so important in Gaudy Night and Wimsey’s college – Balliol – founded 1263. Since it was school vacation, I didn’t see too many proto-Flytes about. However, as Oxford is quite town-and-gown, the rundown hotel where I stayed was a dive that the shadier members of Lyra’s gang would’ve known well. There were about fifty cats in the courtyard and I’m sure that at least half of them were daemons.
Avis: LOL! I’m sure there were some daemons in the mix! What fun to explore the places where these great characters lived and got into mischief! The next question is: Do you want each book to stand on its own or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?
Corrine: French Ghost is the first book that I’ve ever planned as a trilogy. The mysteries in each book are one-offs, but the complex romantic arc of Melody and Carlos… well, it was a forgone conclusion that it would take three books for that terrible twosome to work things out. Book 2, French Toast, is currently in revisions. I’m hoping that French Poster Girl will see the light in 2023.
It’s been lots of fun to work on a second book in a series. It gave me the opportunity to re-visit and develop some of my favorite characters from Book 1: food-blogger Jenna Bardet, fashion model Ingrid Svenson, and stylist Joey Stahl.
Avis: I’m so happy to hear that Melody and Carlos aren’t finished. They are a lot of fun, and their steamy relationship is hot in so many ways. I love your titles, too! The next question is: What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?
Corinne: Buying an Olivetti portable typewriter and a one-way ticket to France from New York. Post-college, I’d worked for several crazed clothing designers doing insane Devil Wears Prada jobs but within a week of landing at Charles De Gaulle, I was the fashion editor of a trendy Paris city magazine called Passion… and I’ve been writing ever since.
Avis: Wow, again! Your experiences as a professional writer are accomplished and impressive! I’m sure the Olivetti helped put you in the mood. That talent and expertise really shows in your novel, and I’m sure people will love all your books! Who wouldn’t love a romp around Paris!
Our next question is: What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?
Corinne: Since I’m bi-cultural, I’m going to cheat and give you two books.
Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons is, to my mind, one of the funniest books ever written. Even the minor characters – like the sappy loser promoting revisionist Brontë theory – are hilarious. It’s my happy pill. I re-read it whenever I feel down, and I’m always surprised that so few people have discovered this delightful book.
My French genes whole-heartedly recommend Astragal by Albertine Sarrazin, a Franco-Algerian writer who led a short and very dangerous life (much of it behind bars) before her death in 1967. Memoir? Novella? Essay? It’s impossible to confine Astragal to any category. If you’re lucky enough to track down an English edition, the preface will probably be by Patti Smith who (like me) thinks this unfairly overlooked masterpiece is a life-changer.
Avis: Cheating is allowed, especially if we get to hear about two great books! It’s such a pleasure to get to know more about you, and I’m sure we’ll be hearing more from you soon! Good luck with your writing, and cheers!
Corrine LaBalme’s debut romantic mystery French Ghost pulls the reader in on the first page, and takes us on a wild ride through Paris, Bordeaux, and beyond. With a cast of richly developed and crazy characters to support her hero, Melody Layne, we soon learn that she is the ghost. She’s a ghost writer hired by the world-famous actor Charles-Henri Banville, rich, talented, and a womanizer, but before she can even begin the job and after she’s spent most of the advance, Banville is found murdered on location of his latest film in Bordeaux.
Melody is torn. With all the research she’s done to prepare for this job, she’s found that Charles-Henry Banville is one of Europe’s worst sexual predators, and she has his journals to prove it. He might even be a pedophile, and the more she learns the luckier she feels that she doesn’t have to pen his sanitized and over-glorified version of his life.
But a girl’s gotta eat. When a drop-dead gorgeous Spaniard approaches her to finish the autobiography of Charles-Henri Banville, she jumps at the offer, only to find out that her new boss,
Carlos Ortega, is the son of her former employer, Charles-Henri Banville Jr.. Without missing a beat, Melody continues her research for her new employer. Together they find out more about Banville the elder, but Carlos needs to prove that his father has some redeeming qualities, or his mom will refuse the bountiful estate!
Are you hooked yet? This novel is a fun romp with laughs and tears, mystery, and romance. It is a satisfying read that will suck you in and keep you turning pages into the night. I highly recommend Corinne LeBalme’s French Ghost. Mystery/Romance fans won’t be able to put it down!
by Avis M. Adams
Corinne’s links and sites: