Bestselling Author


A Bakery in Paris cover

A Bakery in Paris by Aimie K. Runyan

From the author of The School for German Brides, this captivating historical novel set in nineteenth-century and post–World War II Paris follows two fierce women of the same family, generations apart, who find that their futures lie in the four walls of a simple bakery in a tiny corner of Montmartre.

Aimie K. Runyan

Aimie K. Runyan is a multipublished and bestselling author of historical fiction. She has been nominated for a Rocky Mountain Fiction Writer of the Year award and two Colorado Book Awards. She lives in Colorado with her wonderful husband and two (usually) adorable children.

In this episode of “Historical Happy Hour,” host Jane Healey interviews author Aimie K. Runyon about her book “A Bakery in Paris.” The novel, set against the backdrop of two significant periods in Parisian history, delves into the lives of women from the same family, linking their stories through a bakery. Runyon discusses her inspiration, research process, and the challenges of blending historical accuracy with fictional narrative. She also shares insights into character development and her experiences in the publishing industry.

Key Themes and Timestamps:

  • [00:00:00] Introduction: Jane Healey introduces Aimie K. Runyon and her novel “A Bakery in Paris.”
  • [00:01:54] Inspiration for the Novel: Runyon discusses the origins of her book idea.
  • [00:03:40] Research Process: Details about Runyon’s research during the pandemic.
  • [00:05:38] Historical Setting: Exploration of the novel’s setting in different eras.
  • [00:10:02] Narrative Structure: Discussion on the dual narrative approach in the book.
  • [00:14:17] Incorporating Recipes: Runyon talks about the inclusion of recipes in the novel.
  • [00:19:11] Character Development: Insights into creating strong, distinct female characters.
  • [00:20:52] Writing Challenges: Runyon shares the challenges faced during the writing process.
  • [00:23:05] Advice for Aspiring Authors: Tips and insights for new writers.
  • [00:25:10] Future Projects: Discussion on Runyon’s upcoming books.


[00:00:00] Jane: Hey everyone, welcome to Historical Happy Hour, the podcast that explores new and exciting historical fiction novels. I’m your host, Jane Healy, and in today’s episode we welcome Amy K. Runyon to talk about her new book, A Bakery in Paris. Welcome, Amy. Thank you so much.

[00:00:20] Aimie: Thank you so much for having me, Jane.

It’s so great to be here.

[00:00:23] Jane: It’s so good to see you. I know. So I’m going to do a brief intro, and then I have a bunch of questions. And people who, you know, we have guests who are on the podcast, who, who would listen in a lot and and watch. So if you have questions, put them in the chat or in the Q& A. But I’m going to dive into Amy’s intro.

So Amy K. Runyon writes to celebrate History’s Unsung Heroes. She has been honored as a Historical Novel Society’s Editor’s Choice Selection, as a three time finalist for the Colorado Book Awards, and as a nominee for the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writer of the Year. Amy is active as an educator and speaker in the writing community and beyond.

Her latest novel, is a bakery in Paris, and her contemporary women’s fiction debut, The Memory of Lavender and Sage, will release in February of 2024. Welcome, Amy. It’s so nice to see you. I think, I was trying to remember the last time we saw each other in person, I think was Historical Novel Society Conference in DC, right?

[00:01:17] Aimie: Yeah, 2019. It’s been, it’s been like four years. It’s college education ago. Oh my god.

[00:01:23] Jane: Yeah, I know. It’s been, yeah, it was a while. But but I’m so glad you could make it tonight. I love the novel. I have the cover on, on my iPad so I can hold it. It’s not the best view. There you go. That’s better. This is a little too shiny.

So I loved the story cause I love Paris and I love food and baking. I like eating baking. I’m not so good as in terms of baking it, but I loved your author’s note at the end about coming up with this idea for this novel and the timing of it. Tell me about the premise of the novel and how you came up with it.

[00:01:54] Aimie: So this is back in 2020. And you know what was all going on in 2020. And while, you know, the world is in the midst of chaos, I’m trying to figure out, well, what’s going to follow up after Across the Winding River, which was my fifth book. And, you know, I was strategizing with my agent at the time, and I was dating a historian.

And so, of course, as a historical fiction author, I’m gonna, I’m gonna poll the expert and say, you know, what do you think would be an interesting topic to breach? You’ve read some of my work, and you think, you know I think this could be interesting, you know, what do you think would be a good path for me to take?

And he said, just, why don’t you write about the Paris Commune? You know, it’s not an avenue that a lot of people have taken. But it’s something that as a, you know, a French, a French major that you could definitely explore with you know, some delicacy and some insight. And so I started mulling it over and the idea of pairing it with a post war narrative.

Because, you know, there’s pairs in a period of rebuilding both times. And so I thought there were great parallels. And I like the idea of having two generations from the same family exploring rebuilding out of the ashes. Because it’s really, you know, what those two periods have in common. And given the importance of bread to the French society, I could think of no better setting than a bakery.

And so I mulled it together and I ended up pitching the School for German Brides first, but I had the proposal all ready to go and it was my follow on to the School for German Brides. And spoiler alert, I ended up marrying that historian and we found out about the book deal for a bakery in Paris on our honeymoon.

So yeah.

[00:03:40] Jane: Oh, I love that. That’s lovely. Very cool. So tell me about the research you did for this book. And, you know, I know some of it you had to do during the pandemic. So where and what kind of resources did you use? And did you come across anything that really

[00:03:55] Aimie: surprised you? Well, I mean, in general, the surprising thing was the number of wonderful resources that exist.

A lot of people knew that they were living in extraordinary times, if that feels familiar. And so they journaled. And they kept, you know, a record because the city was walled off. You know, Paris is a walled city. And so during the Paris Commune, they had barricades and it was, you know, it was a really rough period and the siege of Paris that preceded it, the city, you know, they were, they were sealed off from the rest of the world and getting supplies in and out was basically impossible.

Supplies in, people out, it was hard. And so, and the cool part was the, there’s a scene where we have people trying to escape via hot air balloon and that actually happened. During the siege of Paris, which I thought was cool but I, I didn’t get to go to Paris while I was writing. I got to go twice after, you know, while we were doing a copy at it.

So I was able to put in a few extra sensory details and, you know, I did took a lot of pictures for promotional purposes and I got to go back because I’m working on another project set in Paris and took even more pictures. You know, the, the story was complete. So, But just to you know, really kind of take in the sites and places that were so important in a bakery in Paris and commemorate those to share with the readers.

And I thought that was a really wonderful experience, but a lot of what I found. Or like discarded library to, you know, like kind of rejected library books. What’s the word I’m looking for? Discards library, discard books that you can find through various marketplaces online. That was kind of the gold treasure trove for this particular book.

Because it’s kind of a period of history. That’s a little bit underrepresented.

[00:05:38] Jane: Absolutely. And that’s what I loved about it. I love that you did that, you know, you picked two. I mean, we both written World War Two novels. And I so when I read your note in the end about wanting to write about a different era, I’m like, yes, I totally understand that, you know, so yes, the post World War Two, and the Prussian invasion.

So so you loosely based the bakery on the novel on an actual bakery you found in Paris while doing research online. And this is about Two women of the same family, different generations, and it revolves around this bakery. So I, and I loved the story, although it was a little sad, about, about the bakery that you found and when you went to go see it in Paris.

Tell readers that story, because I thought that was really interesting.

[00:06:20] Aimie: Yeah, so, I, you know, before international travel was possible, because we, I wrote a lot of this in 2021, where a lot of the borders and international travel wasn’t possible. And so I took my first trip back overseas in 2022. And I had spent so much time on Google Street View, like, in Montmartre, just, you know, because it’s a wonderful tool, just, you know, slithering in and out of the streets, and why, you know, trying to figure out how long do you think it would walk, take to walk from A to B, and I found this adorable mint green bakery and it comes up, like, if you, if you search for charming Parisian bakery, it’s one of the first ones that comes up, and It is in the, near the Place du Tertre, which is extremely busy square, famous for, for artists coming to paint, et cetera, and charming, charming, charming.

And so I had planned like, one of my big highlights for my first trip to Paris was, I was going to go into the bakery and buy all kinds of pastries, like probably one of each, and a giant cup of coffee. And tell the, the owner of the bakery, like I wrote a book that was, you know, that was modeled around your bakery because it has an apartment.

The apartment above this bakery is still an Airbnb now, I think so it very much felt, you know, familiar and I go and the place is boarded up. It had permanently closed 6 weeks before I showed up. I wasn’t checking on the hours and everything like I had been because I just assumed it was, you know, the hours weren’t necessarily going to change.

Okay. Bye. And it was boarded up. I went back because I’ve been to Paris twice and it is still closed the second time and I didn’t see a for sale sign. If anybody wants to buy me a bakery in Paris, I am, will be the happy recipient of that bakery. But sadly, I don’t know if it’s just sitting idle, but you know, it was a charming place, great location for tourism, but there’s also a Starbucks across the street.

[00:08:16] Jane: Oh, there you go. I, I know, but you know, at least there’s a few other bakeries to choose from in Paris. If you want to.

[00:08:24] Aimie: That’s true. That’s true. But you know, Momartha was traditionally, it didn’t have as many. And if even if you go now, there are a few. But you’ll notice that they are ones that have sprung up more recently, and we talked today about food deserts you know, areas in our country where you have to drive a considerable amount to get to a grocery store.

And that really was the case, even back then, and a lot of people had to walk a half an hour or more to get to the nearest bakery, which is considerable given that bread was a main. Staple of what everybody ate every day. Not everybody had access to ovens that would have been adequate for baking.

Baking bread is a very time consuming endeavor. And so our character Lizette decides to open the bakery as an act of, you know, neighborhood Solidarity in order to make bread more accessible for the common man, and it really was an act, not really of charity, but it was a way to help the, the neighborhood without giving them handouts, and that’s really what she was in, you know, inspired to do, and, you know, endeavoring to do.

[00:09:28] Jane: Yeah. And a way to lift the community up around her and economically. And that actually leads me to my next question. So you, you told us in dual historical timeline, Lizeth’s stories in 1870, and I’m going to make sure I pronounce it. Micheline, how do you pronounce it? Micheline. Micheline. Micheline. Shame on me.

Is in, starts in 1946, right after World War II. And these characters, you know, revolves around the bakery. These characters are related, but never really knew each other. Was the dual narrative. Always part of the plan. And do you find that difficult to do

[00:10:02] Aimie: it was always part of the plan to do a double narrative.

I knew that right away because I mean, strategically, if we think about this from a business standpoint, I had done so many World War 2 books and World War 1. That to completely just shift over to 1870, I worried it was going to be a hard sell to my editors. And I thought, you know, doing the post war would have been really interesting, and it’s still breaking away from what I had originally done, which was the goal.

But it wasn’t so unfamiliar, and I thought that there was a lot of a lot of interesting topics to touch on that haven’t been done quite so much. We’ve done the plucky hero in the middle of France in World War II, and I wanted to move on from that. And originally, I’d planned on a third narrator to be taking place in the 1990s who would be like the grand great granddaughter of our main character in 1946, who would revive the bakery after a period of it being shut down.

But I tried. Oh my gosh. So you know, I, I, I decided after having done some multiple POV books and multiple timeline books that I was going to try and write all of Lizette’s story first, then Micheline’s, and then Veronica’s. And, oh man, did I try. So, I, I mean, Lisette’s was a joy. I I spewed it out.

All of a sudden, there’s 50, 000 words on the page. We’re done. Great. And then, Micheline, again, lots of great material, and I spew hers out. And it’s at 30, 000. So, I’m at 80, 000 words. And we really tried to do a hard cap at 100, 000 words. So, it didn’t leave me with a lot of room to really develop Veronica.

And so, I thought, well, she could be more of a frame narrative, though that felt kind of overdone. So, And I wrote her first chapter three times and it just was not working. And it just, you know, I felt in my heart, this is not working. And I also was nagging me that I felt like Micheline’s character was underdeveloped given how great the material was to work with, with the missing, you know, the missing person aspect.

And so I wrote my editor and I said, Tessa, Veronica is just not working. Do you mind if I just. Asks her out and develop the 1946 timeline more. And she said, do what the muse tells you to do. And I, I, I, I really appreciated that a lot. To be able, given, you know, that kind of freedom. And then, so I expanded Michelin’s by another 20, 000 words.

And then I added in the recipes to tie them all together. And I’d always planned on a few, but I did I think there are a dozen. Recipes. And I, you know, I decided that that would be the way to combine these two narratives together and a great deal of fun with that.

[00:12:44] Jane: Oh, I loved that. And that this is going well.

This is my next question, actually. So I love the recipes. I am. I love to cook, but I’m really intimidated by baking. So I’m not sure if I try them, but how did you create them from scratch? Did you get them from certain sources? And do you have a favorite? I know that’s like three questions in one, but.

[00:13:05] Aimie: So most of these recipes are based on the original Carême recipes. Carême was the great granddaddy of all French bacon. He was like the 19th century Julia Child. Or Jacques Pepin if you want to keep it French. Like and you know, every generation it seems like has a master chef. And he was the one that really was the if you think of French pastry baking, it’s Karen.

So I found a kind of transcription of his work. And of course they’re in the public domain, but they’re, you know, they’re kind of tedious to just read a recipe. So I condensed them and the measurements are like, you know, for making six pounds of bread or what have you. So it’s not what we would use in our homes.

So I didn’t, I encourage all of you to not really follow the recipes from the book because they’re kind of archaic and it would be. So I’m helping you all by doing a series of recipes on my social media. If you follow me there, you can get a new recipe every week. All mostly inspired from the book. Some directly from the book that are a little bit easier to follow.

But as far as a favorite I really love the rose petal jam, which is not a Karem recipe, but it is the most symbolically important recipe from the book.

[00:14:17] Jane: Excellent. And yes. You’re, you’re on TikTok and Instagram reels, right? For your, for your Yes. And Facebook. Yes. Amy’s doing these amazing cooking videos.

If you like baked goods, if you like French baked goods, they’re just very, very impressive. So everyone needs to check that out. And we’ll talk about your contact info at the end. Yeah.

[00:14:35] Aimie: And every Tuesday. Every Tuesday, new recipe. That’s right.

[00:14:38] Jane: Tomorrow. Yep. So you always have really strong. distinct female characters in your novels.

And I’m, I want to know, like, how, how do you develop them? Do they sort of grow organically out of out of your writing? Or do you spend a lot of time kind of doing character profiles, things like that?

[00:14:57] Aimie: You know, I try to think about before I dive in, like, what is what is the character’s strengths and weaknesses?

What do they want? What’s going to keep them from getting what they want? Because, you know, if we think about it from a very classical standpoint, a comedy is where you put a hero in a situation where he can achieve the goal with some difficulty. He’s not going to get from A to B easily, but he can achieve the goal.

A tragedy is where the hero’s flaws are so aligned in such a way that they cannot succeed. And so these are all, in the very classic sense, comedies, because they do, these women need to succeed in their ultimate goal. Even if it may not look the way they think it will. And so I think about, what is the type of woman that I can put in this situation, who will react in such a way that she’ll ultimately be successful, but she’ll be interesting to watch.

And So that’s, you know, that’s the, the first struggle, or the first thing I come up with. But honestly, most of these women really kind of emerge organically on the page after I give it some thought. But I don’t do a lot of really official character sketching. You know, I look around, try to find images that inspire me, and do a little bit to begin with, but really most of them take place on the page.

[00:16:14] Jane: Interesting. Interesting. So that brings me, so I, I have some questions about process and writing that I ask every writer that comes on. So are you a plotter or a pantser and has it changed through the course of your writing career?

[00:16:30] Aimie: You know, I started off as almost a pure panther and oh my gosh, that was a, and I went back to those roots for my first contemporary and it was a mistake.

I think that it’s a good thing for people who are, who are naturally panthers to find some focus people who are naturally plotters to find the joy of discovery. And I think the happy medium is really somewhere in the middle. I like to do a really detailed synopsis. Yeah. To begin with, well, that establishes a lot of the framework.

Of course, there needs to be the room for the joy of organic discovery. For example, in the school for German brides, Clara, who was like one of the most interesting characters in the whole darn book just popped out of nowhere in chapter four. And I probably should have given her her own POV because she’s fascinating.

She’s fascinating. I love it. Yeah, I love her.

[00:17:20] Jane: Yeah. And I completely agree. And, and I think most people know, but plotting is, is people who outline and plot out the book pantsers or people who write by the seat of their pants which I find terrifying. But I, but I do agree that you need to allow for some, if you’re an outliner which I definitely am, you need to allow the flexibility for some joy in the creative process.

So you’re not like kind of bogged down, you know, I think you don’t want to limit yourself too much. So I totally agree with that. How do you strike a balance between fact and fiction in your storytelling, and are there any strict rules that you adhere to?

[00:17:58] Aimie: You know, I think that’s kind of more of a gut level instinct sort of thing, because I do consider myself to be somewhat an instinctual writer.

Because, you know, I actually haven’t had a lot of formal training. I’ve taken all of two creative writing classes in my entire life. I’ve taught more than I’ve taken. And so, you know, I, I consider, okay, you have to forgive me. I use a lot of food metaphors. I consider it like garlic in a dish. It’s great to, you know, to have it sprinkled out evenly throughout a dish.

It’s, it lifts the dish. It’s, it’s wonderful. It’s a great flavor, but rarely would you want an entire clove right in the middle. You want to sprinkle it evenly throughout and you can, you know, you can apply that metaphor to any kind of spice, but I think garlic is, you know, kind of on point there. You like the flavor sprinkled throughout.

And of course, you know, depending on the genre you’re doing, The more, more or less, it lends itself to garlic, you know?

[00:18:50] Jane: Yeah, totally agree. And, and I was gonna say, I have a couple more questions, people. If you have questions for Amy, put them in the chat or put them in the Q& A. So, fact and fiction.

And then what is your favorite part of the entire writing process? And what is the part that you dread? I don’t want to say hate, but what is the part that you dread?

[00:19:11] Aimie: You know, I love coming up with new ideas, and I love the thrill of, you know, the honeymoon phase of a new idea. And I love the part where you’re finally winding down on edits and you feel like you can turn it in and you won’t be embarrassed.

You know, the sale part is really hard the selling, the marketing, et cetera, is really hard because you want to just focus on the writing of the books, but that’s just not the reality of the industry that we’re in but as far as the actual writing process you know, the murky middle, when you’re, you know, you’re like two thirds of the way through the book, and you feel like there’s such a slog ahead, you don’t quite see the light at the end of the tunnel I feel that way sometimes through the first draft and again through maybe the second round of edits that I do but you know, I try to get, so the, the manuscript is in pretty darn good shape by the time it’s in the hands of the editor.

So you know, when those, the edits come back from my, from my acquiring editor, whether it be at Harper Morrow or William Morrow or wherever that it’s a much easier, lighter process. And I do enjoy first pass pages. Because it’s a time where it really feels like a cohesive book. Though it is a little bit nerve wracking.

[00:20:22] Jane: Yeah, yeah, I totally agree. Yeah, the the muddy, muddy middle is the I think the toughest part when I’m doing that first draft and I’m just like, is this ever going to end how I don’t know. Yeah, I totally agree with that. So you’ve written a number of novels and have proven staying power in the publishing industry, which is getting harder and harder all the time.

What we I know we have some aspiring authors in the audience. What’s the best advice you can give them about writing and getting published?

[00:20:52] Aimie: Yep, being flexible. I’m this business is all about getting knocked down 10 times and standing up 11. You know, I’ve been dropped from publishers, I have, you know, had some books that did not sell as well as I would have liked early on.

And you know, I’m really lucky to say that, you know, all of, I mean, a Baker and Pears had just come out. So, you know we won’t count that one yet, but all of my other books have, have earned out, which means that I have sold enough copies to cover my advance and I am earning royalties now on all of my backlist, which is an amazing feeling and created some of those advances were very small early on, but you know, that, that still feels really, really good, even if it took some time for that to happen.

But all the same, you know, I think that it is wise to, first of all, have an agent where you can ask them, you know, is this concept that I’m pitching for my next book, do you feel like it is going to be relevant in a year and a half, when this book actually hits the market, or two years down the road, when this book Hits the market because I can’t think of anybody better situated than an agent or an editor to tell you What direction they think the market is going to take and of course it is a little bit like predicting the weather But all the same, I think that you know, I feel like we’re shifting a little bit away from World War II.

I think we’re shifting away from the plucky heroine and the traditional you know, so, I mean, not to say there’s always be a market for World War II. You might have to be a little bit more unique in angle, like, you know, the school for German brides was a bit unique. in that angle. And, but of course, biographical fiction is having a moment.

And so some interesting specific character or historical figure rather from world war two could still find a market. All that said, I think that, you know, looking ahead to, you know, we don’t necessarily know what the next big thing is, but really finding an agent and speaking to your editor and, you know, taking their advice to heart if you trust them.

And if you don’t, if you can’t trust them, then you’re maybe not in the right, you know, situation. But yeah, you want them to have a good you know, their thumb on the pulse of the industry.

[00:23:05] Jane: Excellent advice. I completely agree. So Memory of Lavender and Sage is your contemporary women’s fiction debut.

Yes. Congratulations. Back to back up. Congratulations on earning out on all your books that for people who are outside the publishing industry might not realize like that’s huge. That’s amazing. So congratulations on that. And so yeah, Memory of Labyrinth Sage comes out February 2024. Contemporary women’s fiction debut.

What tell me about how that happened. I’d love to, like, how you ended up deciding the right date you know, women’s fiction contemporary and, and how that evolved.

[00:23:39] Aimie: Yeah, well, I always wanted to diversify. I love historical fiction. It’s my first love. I will always write historical fiction as long as anybody will let me and, you know, print my books.

And so, but, you know, I’ve, It’s a, it’s a difficult business. And so I would really like to be able to put out two books a year that maybe have overlapping readership, but not necessarily a circle if we’re looking at it like a Venn diagram, and I just wanted to find you know, I, I’ve had ideas for women’s fiction, you know, for, for, you know, years and years.

And I lived in France for a couple of years and I’ve always wanted to set a book in Provence. And I thought that setting a contemporary book in Provence about a woman who goes through, you know, a pretty intense emotional journey and finds herself there you know, it resonated with me because I really feel like I came into who I am because I was in Provence at the age of 19.

And it’s really where I discovered a lot about myself and what I wanted moving forward with my life. And I discovered a lot about myself. So it felt very organic to, to write a book about a woman really discovering her true identity there. And so I was very excited to have that opportunity. And I’m going to be with HarperMuse for those books for the time being.

And yeah, I just stumbled across because it was before HarperMuse had even I haven’t launched a book yet, and I managed to get a contact there and they said, Oh yeah, we’d love to give this a shot. Why not? And so I will get to write at least two contemporary women’s fiction books, and I’m very excited about that.

[00:25:10] Jane: Amazing. That’s awesome. Congratulations. Thank you. Can’t wait to read. So yes, put your questions, I see there’s some questions in the Q& A and in the, in the chat. Before I go through those, what is the best way for readers to stay in touch with you?

[00:25:25] Aimie: I am all over the internet. I am on Facebook. My author page is at Amy K.

Runyon. A I M I E K R U N Y A N. And that’s the same for my handle on X and TikTok. And on Instagram at, at BookishAmy. And it’s A I M I E because my mom had to be creative.

[00:25:47] Jane: Excellent. Okay, so questions from the Q and A and the chat. Christine Mott is a, I don’t know if Christine has missed like one of these historical aviaries.

Thank you, Christine. She wants to know, how did you come up with the names for your characters?

[00:26:02] Aimie: You know sometimes they come to me you know, I, I generally, one of the first things I do when I start planning a book is I start a OneNote file and I put maps and pictures and a list of appropriate names.

Like, I’ll say what were popular names, you know, okay, the characters 20 years old, what were the popular names 20 years, you know, the year they were born you know, and, but. For the region, like if it’s France or the U. S., what have you. And for boys and girls, and common surnames, and have those at the ready.

So if I’m writing offline, I don’t have to go online and, you know, mess with all that. So, yeah, I have that at the ready, and I just find things that I think people will be able to pronounce fairly well in their head, because so many of my books do not take place in English speaking areas. Good luck with Lavender and Sage, though, because a lot of the names are Provençal.

So it’s kind of like this happy marriage between, like, French and Italian and Spanish. Hehe. But, you know, it’s it’s a beautiful language. It’s sad that it’s dying, but you know, it was, you know, that’s kind of a Germaine kind of an important topic in that book, but yeah, I just you know, sometimes like in girls on the line Ruby was ruby wagner and she was going to be ruby wagner from day one.

She told me so and that’s just the way it was

[00:27:15] Jane: Excellent. Carolyn Sylvester. Hi, Carolyn. Do editors sort of rewrite your book to make it the way they want it so it doesn’t end up being 100 percent of all of all of your ideas. I know. Yeah, yeah. So go ahead. You explain that.

[00:27:30] Aimie: Yeah. Yeah, I mean, okay, so we, we all get an editorial letter and they have very for me varied from three paragraphs.

In my first book, it was like, my first two books, like, the editorial letters were a few paragraphs long. I was like, could you just expand these scenes, please? And then at Lake Union you know, for my three books that I wrote there, they have the acquiring editor working with a freelance editor, developmental editor, and they’ll work together to write a letter.

And we, they’re fairly lengthy, about 15 pages. And it’s mostly like, these are the things that we feel like, you know, are working. These are the things we need to develop. And, you know, and usually, I mean, it’s, it’s You know, like, they ask you the hard questions that you didn’t get around to asking yourself the first time around.

And like, in Girls on the Line, there were so many extra, you know, because they’re, they’re, you know, they’re working in large groups of, of operators, and it got really confusing. So they asked me to condense it and have these operators move together. And so I did that. That was a pretty hefty rewrite, actually.

That’s one of the heftier rewrites I’ve had to do. But you know, for the most part, it’s like, can we take the scene? And or, you know, I feel like the anger here wasn’t that was too strong for for what was called for that sort of thing. But it’s really about, you know, you know, and of course there’s continuity issues and things like that, but it’s usually just, you know, I feel like we need to explain this more, develop it more, or this just simply isn’t working.

[00:29:03] Jane: Yeah, I completely agree. It’s yeah, it’s never about like changing the essence of the story. It’s more about like, oh, we I want to see a little bit more of this romance on the page or I this character is a little bit underdeveloped or things like that, generally, but that yeah, the letters, the editorial letters can be a little bit long and scary sometimes.

[00:29:22] Aimie: But, you know, that’s, that’s how it works. Yeah, I usually distill those 16 pages down to a checklist.

Yeah, exactly. I do, too. A punch list, I call it. That’s right. Oh, Jacqueline Malizia asks where will you go for historical fiction next, do you think? Well,

My next historical fiction is coming out in September.

That’s not like, it’s not like, I don’t have an actual date, but September is what I’ve been told. And it’s called Mademoiselle Eiffel, and it’s a story of Gustave Eiffel of Eiffel Tower. His daughter’s story. She’s really remarkable. Her mother died when she was only 14. When, when Claire was only 14, her mother died, her mom was 32.

And so still very young, but she, Claire took over really as her father’s right hand woman. And she helped run the business and the household starting at the age of 14. And she lived through a really remarkable time. The bed epoch in Paris is amazing. So I got to like hang out in the archives, which is the fit.

I, you felt family. Archives in the Musee d’Orsay, and it was amazing. It was

[00:30:22] Jane: just amazing. Oh, that’s incredible. Yeah, excellent. Someone, an anonymous attendee asks, I have to ask, on the back of your book it says you live with a dragon. What’s that about?

[00:30:33] Aimie: My my son has a bearded dragon named Dracogyzabop.

This long he’s with, from head to tail. He is about that long. And he lives on, he, he eats carrots and dried worms and, you know, greenery.

[00:30:47] Jane: And he’s very sweet. Yeah, those aren’t small, though. Like, those are a decent size.

[00:30:52] Aimie: Yeah, the tank is very big. He’s got a very large terrarium in his room.

[00:30:57] Jane: Oh, that’s good.

At least it’s not, like, in the middle of the living room, too.

[00:31:01] Aimie: No, no, no. Because we also have two cats who would very much love to play with Draco. And he would have been a great snack when he was little. But now, I’m not sure who, I mean, well, the cats would have come out victorious. But they might get, you know, they might take some damage in the process.

Because bearded dragons do have teeth.

[00:31:21] Jane: That’s, they do, yeah. So I wanted to ask, what are you reading right now?

[00:31:25] Aimie: What am I reading right now? I am reading an advanced review copy of Unsinkable by Jenny Walsh which is a Titanic story and about an actual woman who survived the Titanic and had amazing life adventures by Jenny Walsh and it’s wonderful.

I’m also Reading an ARC called The Paris Novel by Ruth Reichel which is amazing. Yes. It’s amazing. And I’m listening to don’t forget to write by Sarah Goldman. I’m forgetting her middle. She has two last names. Okay. Let me figure this out. Yeah, it’s Sarah Goodman Kino Kino. I’m listening to this and let me tell you, of all the audio books I’ve listened to, it sounds like the woman who plays Midge Maisel from The Marvelous Mrs.

Maisel and Christina Baranski from the Gilded Age and also of like the Big Bang Theory fame, like they’re, because it’s the aunt and the, and the niece, the great aunt and the niece, and they, she sounds so much like both of those women. It’s incredible. Just loving that audiobook.

[00:32:30] Jane: Great. And I actually just saw that you were reading the Paris novel and I love Ruth Reichel Garlic and Sapphires, her memoir is one of like my favorites of all time.

[00:32:40] Aimie: Oh my god. I have it upstairs. Yeah, I have it upstairs in the library. So good.

[00:32:43] Jane: Yeah, I just adore her. So I’m excited about that one.

And I’m reading the spectacular. I’m just starting the spectacular by Fiona Davis because she’s coming on historical happy hour next month. So y’all have to register for that one. Tim Hayes has a question. You spoke about Provence and living there. Did Peter male males urine Provence or to yours Provence and Provence.

Influence your writing about Paris and the bakery, or what kinds of books influenced your writing about Paris and France?

[00:33:10] Aimie: I read those books a long time ago, and I think I was too young to really kind of get, you know, I was not at the point in my life to really appreciate them. The way I should have, and I should go back and revisit those, but you know, Francis Mays under the Tuscan sun was really, that was a little bit more my, my bailiwick.

And that’s still, you know, the book and the movie really, and. Francis Mays and Ruth Reichel are coming to Denver and it’s already sold out. So I’m already, I’m like really upset about that. But two of my favorite foodie writers. But she really you know, she was an inspiration. She definitely was an inspiration.

You know, the, the memory of Lavender and Sage really is my love letter to Provence. And it has a few elements of magical realism. And it’s very much different from what I’ve written, but it has a sense of past. and, and history and nostalgia that I think will definitely carry over for my historical fiction readers.

And it was just, you know, it took me three tries, but it was a joy to write.

[00:34:14] Jane: Oh, excellent. I also adore Under the Tuscan Sun. I have that one upstairs as well. And I, every time the movie’s on, if I’m like in the kitchen cooking, I have to like put it on because I just love it. It’s so good. Have you ever thought about, I know our, we have a mutual friend, Patricia Sands, who does these French tours.

Have you ever thought about doing like a related, a tour related to your

[00:34:32] Aimie: books? I would love to do that. You know, I was just thinking about that today because I saw like somebody’s memory picture of being in Provence with Patricia and I’m like, I want to do that. I want to do that. So, you know you know, now that the world is opening back up, I’m definitely open to that idea.

I’m a little bit nervous about the, you know, the actual details of how to organize it. I hate to be responsible if, you know, an airline strike happened or what have you. But it’s something I’d be open to in the future. Yeah,

[00:35:01] Jane: yeah, that would be super fun. Joan Barlow asks question for both Jane and Amy.

What was your interest in writing books set during World War Two? Mine was because my grandfather who I was close with was a firefighter on the Navy ships during World War Two. And that generation didn’t really share a lot of what they went through. And that made it more interesting to me. How about you?

[00:35:23] Aimie: Well, my grandfather was in World War Two as well he was on a ship in the South Pacific and he rarely talked about it other than saying, you think those big ships don’t sway? Let me tell you, they do. Yeah, I don’t think he ever went on a cruise after, you know, I don’t think that that was like part of, no, actually, I guess he did, but you know, he was very closed mouth about his experience in World War II, but I really jumped in when I had a friend, you know, because I, you know, my first two books were Canadian Colonials and You know, it was just not the moment for those books at first, but they did, they’ve sold like gangbusters since because of good timing of a book bump.

But I knew that I needed to switch angles and a friend of mine sent me an article about the Night Witches and I thought, well, this is fascinating. This is really fascinating. And it seemed like the market is heading toward World War II. So I figured this is an angle that a lot of people aren’t going to take.

But then of course, Kate. Quinn started writing The Huntress right around the time I was about halfway finished with Daughters of the Night Sky, which is a funny story. But if that hadn’t happened, I might not have ended up at Lake Union because of a funny post that she made. So it all worked out in the end.

[00:36:30] Jane: It all worked out. I know you can’t like, you can’t predict the timing on some of this stuff. That’s right. Hello, Chris Walder. I she asks, I’m really curious about your experiences pants in your contemporary. And how you approached it compared to your historicals. She, it’s, she said panting, she meant panting.

I totally get that, Chris.

[00:36:49] Aimie: There was some panting involved, too. Like, what am I doing? Okay, so let me tell you, my experience writing my first contemporary women’s fiction. Gave me so much respect for the people who write these wonderful, fun books that are light and escapist because how do you keep the tension going when there are no Nazis to blow things up?

How do you make this happen? It was so hard. And the problem was, I didn’t know what the stakes were. And I will never make that mistake again. I will never go into writing a book without having a really clear idea of what the stakes are. May, it might take some time to really nail them down, but I will definitely have in my head.

You know, a really strong concept of what they are. It turned out, for the Lavender and Sage, it was the big stakes were keeping the school open. In the village. Because when the school dies, so does the village. Because nobody will ever move in if there’s no school for children. Unless they’re like 80, you know, they just won’t.

And and so, of course, you know, this book, in addition to being about a woman finding herself, and some really cool stuff that happens with herbs and cooking and all kinds of stuff, it really is about a village trying to stay alive. Because we see the great brain drain from villages all throughout, you know, especially the south of France and Spain and Italy and Portugal.

Portugal, it’s really, really sad. And so I wanted to kind of, you know, talk about that social element. We, you know, of course we have the small town phenomenon happening in the U S as well. But I, you know, these villages that have been, you know, populated for two millennia that are, you know, draining out of people.

And I find it heartbreaking. And so it really is you know, in addition to being fun and light escapist, women’s fiction is a treatise about the loss of the village, but understanding that. Gave everything else context and gave it more meaning. So I think that that was, you know, pantsing, you know, yeah, it was, you know, I got through a draft really quickly, but the draft was a mess compared to, you know, what I’m able to crank out for historical, because the historical has by definition, some structure because of the events that, you know, respecting the events in history.

And that helps tremendously. So I had to create the structure myself. And so in a sense, I find it is, you know. It’s like riding without training wheels. And so it’s kind of hard.

[00:39:10] Jane: Yeah, it’s a different kind of challenge, right? You don’t have those parameters that you do with historical fiction. So yeah, I always I’m always kind of in awe of these writers who crank out very good contemporary fiction novels.

And I’m like, what do you do like to People talk to each other. They move around. It’s 2023. Yeah. Yeah,

[00:39:29] Aimie: it’s like there’s no imminent explosion. How do we keep the pacing going? Oh my gosh. Yeah.

[00:39:33] Jane: Yeah. Okay. Final question from Paulette Kennedy. Another writer friend that’s on here tonight. Hello, Paulette. Is there an era in history you’re not interested in writing about?

[00:39:45] Aimie: Well, I mean, I, I feel like the Tudor era, as much as I love the Tudor era, I feel like it’s been handled so well and so recently that I might not consider that. Yeah, that’s a really interesting question. I’m sure there are plenty that don’t interest me, but it’s hard to, you know, come up with what they are.

I mean, I feel like I’ve spent my time in World War II but that’s not to say that if some grand idea didn’t pop up, I wouldn’t hop on it. But yeah, I feel like other people have done a much better job in ancient world stuff than I could ever do.

[00:40:17] Jane: Yeah, I could never do ancient world stuff, I don’t think.

Yeah, there’s some amazing writers who do that, and that is just not my lane. So, yeah. Yeah, exactly. Right. Amy, this was wonderful. I’m so happy for all your success, and you’re so supportive of writers. Everyone needs to check out Amy’s cooking videos, cause they’re just Darling and so impressive. So thank you for coming on.

Y’all know where to get in touch with her. But I’ll also you know, I’ll post it when I when I post about about this. I’ll post some clips on tik tok and, and wherever else I can of this podcast. And oh, My husband Charlie, I have to say at the end, thanks for listening. Before we go, if you know, show some love for your favorite podcast by leaving us a review on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.

The more reviews that Historical Happy Hour has, the more readers and listeners we reach. So that is actually helpful. And if you’re watching on YouTube, don’t forget to like and subscribe. And also we’re hoping to Banned this historical Happy Hour podcast and we’re just trying to figure out how we’re gonna do that, whether I’m gonna make it more, do it more frequently.

But if anyone has suggestions or ideas, always love to hear at Jane Healy, [email protected]. So thank you again, Amy, you’re awesome. And thank you. Thank you for everyone for tuning in. Take care and have a great month. Bye bye.


Hosted by Jane Healey, Historical Happy Hour is a live interview and podcast featuring premiere historical fiction authors and their latest novels.

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