Cocktail Conversations – Patricia Sands
My readers are in for a delicious treat because today’s guest is my friend and fellow author Patricia Sands. In case you haven’t yet met Patricia, you are missing out on some wonderful stories. It was Patricia’s novel “The Promise of Provence” that inspired me to do a home exchange and spend three wonderful weeks in Paris. When it comes to Women’s Fiction, her books are always at the top of my list.
Patricia is a world traveler, who spends her summers in France, soaking up the culture and snapping breathtakingly beautiful pictures. She then translates the things she has seen and done into stories that make readers feel they have journeyed along. Today we will talk about her Love in Provence Series and perhaps learn a bit about the new series she’s is currently working on.
So pull up a virtual chair and join in as Patricia and I begin our celebration of all things French with a Kir Royale. We’ll start with what is on the table…French cuisine, of course. Patricia has made foie gras on thin slices of toasted baguette. (Yes, we will include recipes for both the food and drink)
Foie gras on toast for cocktail hour
1 6-ounce (180 g.) jar or tin of foie gras entier
1/2 loaf of white bread, preferably a baguette
2-3 tbsp. fruit preserves
sprig of fresh basil or mint leaves for garnish
a chilled bottle of Champagne or a top-quality sweet white wine like Monbazillac or Sauternes
Patricia: ~Pours crème de cassis in the bottom half of flute glasses~ I thought this would be the perfect drink for today because as you know the French love champagne. This berry liqueur is the perfect addition for a special celebration!
Bette: ~pops cork on champagne bottle~ I am delighted to have you here today, and super excited to have my followers learn more about your Love in Provence Series ~Fills the remainder of the glass with champagne~ Something I think many people don’t realize is that the series started with “The Promise of Provence” which was originally written as a stand alone novel. Can you share why you decided to turn it into a series?
Patricia: Bette, it was a surprise to me! I received so many requests from readers to continue the story I realized I wanted to know what happened too! It was very satisfying for me to keep developing Kat’s story and pull it all together in Book 3, I Promise You This.
Bette: ~Sips Kir Royale~ I’m glad you suggested this drink; it’s absolutely delicious. Even more festive than champagne, if such a thing is possible.
Patricia: ~Smiles and passes plate of foie gras appetizers~ The French see food and wine as an art, not a necessity, which is one of the reasons I’ve fallen in love with the country. I especially love the market squares with their fresh vegetables and lovely flowers.
Bette: Going back to the Promise of Provence. It is such a tribute to your writing skills to have readers fall in love with the characters and want more. When you created Katherine and Philippe were they based on any person in particular?
Patricia: Katherine stepped out of my imagination, but I love how I happened upon the character of Philippe. I was standing in the daily market in Antibes (a truly wonderful market!) waiting to buy some cheese. I watched the fromager speaking with a customer about a sample of cheese he was holding on a paper on his hand. He was SO passionate and emotional about it that I fell in love with him right there and knew Katherine had to do the same.
I got to know him and met with him several times early in the morning before the market opened so he could answer questions for me about cheese and how one goes about becoming a fromager. It was a real education for me … and a delicious one!
Bette: I know the Love in Provence is a trilogy, but I hate the thought of Katherine and Philippe not returning; will they be included in any other books you have planned?
Patricia: I receive emails from readers almost every day asking me to keep telling Kat’s story and it would be my pleasure to do so. I’m working on a stand alone novel now that is set in a different part of France. Once that is published I hope to get back to visiting with Kat and Philippe and friends.
Bette: Another thing I love about your books is how vividly you paint a picture of each locale. This past summer I’ve followed your travels through the gorgeous pictures you’ve posted on Facebook, so I have to ask, will those places be used in your new novel?
Patricia: Oh yes indeed and I’m excited about that. We spent two weeks in Arles, and have been there before a couple of times, so I was able to do a lot of research. As you know, I love to take photographs and they are very important to me as I tell a story. Great writing prompts! This novel will be set in and around Arles and also in the very unique Camargue area to the south of the town.
Bette: Sounds exciting. Which came first – Did you decide on the locations for the new novel and then book home exchanges in those areas or did you plan the home exchange first and create the story around the location?
Patricia: In this case, the exchange came first. When I realized we were going to spend time in Arles, this story began to develop in my head. It just felt right. As I strolled those ancient streets, I could feel the main character, Arianna, becoming more alive.
Bette: When you are writing a scene, do you take out the pictures you took in that particular location and refer to them for the detail in your description?
Patricia: Absolutely! As I mentioned above, the photos remind me of details and also of feelings I had when I was in a certain area. It’s surprising how they can help move a story along by providing a small reminder of something that might have slipped my mind.
Bette: ~Nibbles on foie gras~ I know that sampling different cuisines is part of your travels, do you collect recipes and try to replicate them once you are back home?
Patricia: Well, you are right about the first part of your question, I love to sample different cuisines when we travel. Isn’t this foie gras delicious! I particularly love to put a little fig jelly on it. I do collect and share recipes but would rather write than cook when I am back home! Fortunately I have an understanding husband who tells me I “buy” great dinners. *smile*
Actually, I love photographing the food at French markets. For example, don’t you think these radishes are beautiful? J’adore the way the French like to serve them simply with softened butter and fleur de sel, the caviar of sea salt! Just dip them lightly and enjoy the crunch! Having a fresh baguette to accompany this can turn it into a nice addition to lunch.
Bette: Now for some of the fun stuff that readers love to hear, can you share a secret tidbit about yourself and your interests?
Patricia: Well, this isn’t really a secret … but it’s one of the things I love best about life. We have six grandchildren, ranging in age from seven to (yikes!) twenty-one. I love sharing our travels with them. The young ones love to visit us in Florida. This year our teenage granddaughters came to France on their own for a week with us. This selfie is one of my favourite photos of the summer as we took the girls to the places we love.
Our older granddaughter spent a week with us later when she was traveling after graduation as a registered nurse. It was a delight to have her in Antibes with us for my birthday.
Bette: And how about upcoming trips? Are you already planning your home exchanges for next year and will they be a tie-in to another new book?
Patricia: Of course we will be back in France next year. For part of that time I will be leading another women’s tour based on my Love In Provence books. I’ve done two tours in the past and they were great fun. Most of the women had read my books and were eager to see the places I wrote about. We take 16 women and spend 6 days in Nice and 6 in Avignon. Then we do day trips to Antibes and all the other lovely villages in the stories. It’s great fun getting to know readers personally too. I believe there are two spots left if any of your lovely readers would like to come! The information is on the Travel page on my website and we’re going from June 6 to 18. I can’t wait!
Bette: Oh how I wish I could get away and join you, but the timing is no good for me. Readers – I would urge you that if you have ever wanted to explore France, do it on one of Patricia’s tours. They are wonderful and you’ll see the real France, the one the tourists so often miss. Patricia is the person who encouraged me to try a Home Exchange and spend some time in Paris. She said I’d love it, and she was absolutely right.
Time flies when you’re spending it with friends and while our time with Patricia has come to an end for today, you can keep up with her adventures by following along on her blog and newsletter. I do and it is always fun to find one of her lovely newsletters in my in box.
Here is a list of places where you can find Patricia:
Patricia: I hope you enjoyed our chat. I wish I could pass around a plate of these macarons to each of you. Bon weekend!