This week's Muse: Sasha Watson
Author of: Vidalia in Paris
Featured in: An interview
Bookworm: What made you want to write a novel set in Paris?
Sasha: I've lived in Paris off and on throughout my life, and I wanted to write about all the wonderful, exciting, and sometimes draining and difficult things about being a young American in that amazing city. Maybe I also wanted to keep a part of myself in France by writing about it. I have to admit that my mouth waters whenever I read the scene where they're eating fresh bread and chèvre at Julien's home in the country.
Bookworm: How are you like Vidalia, and how are you different?
Sasha: Well, the differences are in the facts of our lives. Vidalia is a painter and I'm a writer; she's the only child of a single mom, and I have two siblings and two parents; her mother is a bit nuts, and mine isn't...and on and on. We're similar on the inside though. We're both passionate about art; we both believe in transformative love; and we both ultimately fall back on our own strength and resilience when things get hard.
Bookworm: If you could meet any characters from the book, which one would you choose?
Sasha: Definitely Vidalia herself. It's funny, but in some ways she feels like more of a mystery to me than any of the other characters, even though she's the most developed. I'd like her to show me around her house, introduce me to her mom (yeah, I'm sneaking her mom in there), tell me about her art and what she plans to do with it. Oh, and I'd really like to see the rabbit houses, too.
Bookworm: Where is your favorite place to visit in Paris?
Sasha: I love the northern part of the city, the 11th and 12th arrondissements, in particular. Belleville is a wonderful, eclectic, energetic part of the city, where lots of people and cultures intermingle. (It's also where Vidalia goes with Marco on their first gallery outing). That part of the city has so many spots that I like: the Parc des Buttes Chaumont, the Canal St. Martin at night, the Père Lachaise cemetary, and the MK2 movie theater on the Quai de la Loire.
Bookworm: What's your favorite thing about French culture?
Sasha: My favorite thing about French culture is its intelligence. People, even very young people, are expected to be aware of politics and art and culture, and to have opinions about them. Everyone is constantly engaged in the exchange of those opinions and ideas. People read great literature on the Mètro; philosophers are quoted on the radio; there are prime-time television programs in which intellectuals discuss the events of the day. Of course there's also a lot of fluff and silliness, just like anywhere, but the life of the mind holds an honored place in popular culture.
Bookworm: What was your publication process like?
Sasha: I spent three years both writing and learning about the young adult publishing industry. I went to conferences, studied the business, familiarized myself with editors, agents, and lists. Along the way, I saw Joy Peskin speak at the New School, and immediately liked her. I soon figured out that I liked the books she edited, too. When I saw that she was teaching a writing class in Urban Fiction, I decided to join. In that class, I began working on a story that would eventually become the novel I'm working on now. As I got to know her, my admiration for Joy and her skill as an editor only grew. At the end of the class, I asked if she'd be interested in reading Vidalia, and the rest is history...
Bookworm: Are you planning on writing any more books in the future?
Sasha: I'm working on another book right now. This one is about a different character entirely, but I would really like to return to Vidalia once I'm done with this one. As you can see from my answer to the Which character would you like to meet question, I'm not done asking her questions or exploring her world.
Thank you so much, Sasha for the wonderful interview!
Check out a review for her fantastic new YA novel that came out in October, Vidalia in Paris, by clicking here.