If you don’t know Canadian author Laura Bradbury, it is time you met her. And once you do, I have no doubt you will become as big a fan as I am. Not just of her books, but about her philosophy of life in general and the way she lives and writes about it.
As the tagline here on my website says, “Everyone has a story.” You know I am all about the unique experiences life presents to each of us … and Laura has quite the story to tell.
I’m delighted to have her visit with us. Here’s a quick introduction from her website. You have to love this: Described as the lovechild of Peter Mayle’s “A Year in Provence” and Cheryl Strayed’s “Wild” Laura Bradbury’s bestselling GRAPE books are a treasure trove of escapism and romance.
That gets your attention, doesn’t it? And having chatted with Laura during these past few months, the description sounds bang on … with a twist. Laura is also a survivor.
And now our interview:
PS ~ The story of your journey to writing novels is fascinating … and more than a little frightening. Please tell us how it all came about.
LB ~ I’ve wanted to be a writer my entire life, but by my late thirties I’d started and abandoned about seven manuscripts. I was afraid to share anything I wrote, for fear I would be judged as talentless at the one thing I wanted to do for a career.
I went down a winding path of diversions, including a law degree at Oxford, a love affair with a Frenchman (now my husband), three children, renovating old houses in France… Just before I turned forty I was diagnosed, completely out of the blue, with an often terminal autoimmune condition of the liver and bile ducts called PSC. It was a complete kick in the teeth from life.
There is currently no treatment for PSC. There is no cure. The only hope for survival is a liver transplant, but first I had to get sick enough to qualify for one while dodging all the other ways PSC could kill me.
The day after I was diagnosed, I woke up feeling like I was being suffocated by a lead blanket of grief and fear. My entire life changed on its axis. I went downstairs, flipped open my laptop, grabbed a Post-it, and scribbled, “Fuck you. I’m not dead yet” on it. I stuck it on my screen and began to write my first published book, My Grape Escape. Ten months later I self-published it, and it quickly became a bestseller.
PS ~ The challenges you faced were immense with the sudden discovery of your degenerative liver disease. I will link to your blog here so you don’t have to repeat the entire story, but is it possible to say what the greatest lesson is from living through this epic struggle?
LB ~ There are several, but the most important one became crystal clear, especially in the moments before I was put under for my twelve-hour living donor liver transplant. Here it is: love is all that matters. I knew with absolute clarity in that moment that the measure of a life well lived is loving hard and being loved hard back. I had lived that, and I experienced truly life-changing acceptance and peace that had alluded me until that moment.
The other thing is to not waste a moment being untrue to yourself. Chase after your dreams—write that book, paint that painting, have that baby, take that trip. The hospitals I spent months in were full of people who, like me, were never expecting in a million years they would end up sick. Do not waste time in fear or procrastination.
PS ~ Such an impactful and frightening way to learn this important lesson in life! You inspire us. Now to the simpler side of life … If you had to choose between living in Canada or France, which would it be and why?
LB ~ That’s a tough one. My husband is French (from Burgundy), and our three daughters are Franco-Canadian, so our household is a grab bag of French and Canadian no matter where we’re living. All five of us are citizens of both countries.
In France, particularly at our home in the heart of the Burgundian vineyards, I love the food, the wine, the history, our friends and family there, and the rolling vineyards and benign landscape (no bears, cougars, tsunamis, or earthquakes—which for a West Coaster like me is not the norm!).
In Canada I love the ocean (we live on Vancouver Island surrounded by the Salish Sea); the freedom to be an entrepreneur; the opportunities for our girls to play sports, get involved in clubs, and hold part-time jobs; my dad’s smoked salmon; and of course friends and family.
What actually feels the most natural for us is living half and half (and traveling a lot in between!). It’s impossible with school-age children right now, but half and half is our ultimate plan.
PS ~ Of all your books so far, do you have a favourite? Why that one?
LB ~ I think it has to be My Grape Paris. I began this most recent book in my Grape Series when I was extremely ill before my transplant on March 22, 2017. I dedicated it to my dear friend Nyssa, who donated 73% of her liver to save my life (we are both doing great). Writing My Grape Paris, a light, romantic, escapist story, got me through the scariest, darkest period.
I got back to editing My Grape Paris a month to the day of my transplant. The problem was that my advanced liver disease had adversely affected my brain prior to the transplant, and when I got back to work on it with a healthy brain and body, I couldn’t make heads or tails of what I had written! I basically rewrote My Grape Paris from scratch.
When I finally published it in April 2018, it was so symbolic—even though the story has nothing to do with my illness or my transplant. I honestly didn’t know if I would be alive to finish the book, so when I finally had the paperback in hand, it was physical proof I survived. It also represented how writing had been a lifeline throughout my PSC journey and transplant.
PS ~ Do you have a set routine for writing or do you take it as it comes?
I work mainly when my two youngest daughters are in school, from around nine o’clock until three o’clock. My issue isn’t so much finding the discipline to write but the time. I pick up some hours on the weekends if I can, but unfortunately I am not an early-morning or late-night writer.
I create a newsletter for my readers every two weeks that I devote much time and love to, and that, as well as other marketing, is quite a lot to cram into my free hours these days.
As for the creation of new books, I am what is termed a “panster” (i.e., I barely outline, and my rough drafts are VERY rough) rather than a plotter. I’m so envious of plotters!
PS ~ LOL! As a confirmed pantser myself, I hear you! What can we look forward to next from you?
My goal is to publish my first novel this March, entitled A Vineyard for Two. It’s a romantic fiction set in the Burgundy vineyards. Here’s the blurb!
Up-and-coming winemaker Cerise Desloires believes in soul mates. Trouble is, she’s sure she’s already found—and lost—hers. Now the young widow has inherited half the vineyard she considers her own, and she’s got one chance to produce a vintage that could make or break her career. But when the flashy, impetuous Clovis de Valois is revealed as heir to the other half, her dreams of independence are dashed into chaos.
Cerise and Clovis seem to be opposites in every way that matters. Can their passion for winemaking—and secretly each other—unite them beyond their differences? Or will their clash ruin the vineyard, and the hearts, they’re both desperate to save?
A Vineyard for Two is my first fiction, so writing it has been a steep learning curve. I always want to expand and learn new dimensions of the craft.
PS ~ That’s definitely a story that will appeal to me and my subscribers! We will look forward to the release and I will share the news here, bien sûr! Now, please tell us what you would like us to know about your family.
Anyone who has read my Grape Series memoirs is familiar with my passionate, hilarious, and at times incomprehensible French husband, Franck!
We have three daughters. Our oldest, Charlotte, will soon be nineteen and is currently backpacking in Southeast Asia before university in the fall. Our middle daughter, Camille, is seventeen and already a world traveler with a deep interest in public service (she just returned from building a school in Sri Lanka). Our youngest, Clémentine, is eleven and quite a spitfire. She loves riding horses, playing the ukulele, and soccer.
Since my transplant my family is unequivocally my first priority, and I feel very fortunate to have them.
Laura, merci mille fois! Thank you for taking the time to visit here today. Your story inspires on so many different levels. It’s a pleasure to introduce readers here to you, your books and your contagious outlook on life.
Laura has graciously offered to giveaway three ebooks of My Grape Paris in my January newsletter. If you aren’t a subscriber yet, you can be by clicking on this link. Once you are signed up, go to the newsletter and enter the giveaway. Bonne chance/Good luck!
Dear Readers ~ you can connect with Laura in so many great ways! Here are her links:
Subscribe to The Grapevine – www.bit.ly/LauraBradburyNewsletter
Amazon Author Page – https://www.amazon.com/Laura-Bradbury/e/B00GRGF6A0
Pinterest – https://www.pinterest.ca/bradburywriter/
Twitter – https://twitter.com/Author_LB
Bon weekend, tout le monde! Take time to spend a while with a good book! Be kind to one another … and stay warm if you are in the parts of the planet experiencing a deep freeze these days.