Happy Friday everyone! Today we have the fabulous Emy Calirel joining us to talk about her brand new, debut novel From Brussels, With Love which is out today!
You can buy it now either through Amazon US or your nearest Amazon store.
1. What inspired you to write From Brussels, with Love? Can you tell us a little more about the story?
From Brussels, With Love was specifically written for the World of Love submission call, but I had known for a while I wanted to write a story set in Europe, outside of the UK or Ireland, and with a French-speaking character because that’s my native language. Having a prompt specifically designed to write about a country that wasn’t “the usual” was the kick I’d needed all along. I couldn’t help including a bit of Ireland too, because I loved the year I spent there so much.
Brussels is a big part of the book because of Jerome’s deep love for it, but the story is mostly about two men finding a way to meet in the middle. It’s about needing to put yourself out there to get what you want, and realizing that love isn’t always enough. Relationships take work and compromises.
Despite both characters carrying their own hurts and hangs up, the book isn’t angsty. It won’t make readers cry but I hope it’ll make them smile. It’s sexy, light, and hopeful.
2. Can you share something with us about the book that isn’t in the blurb?
Trevor’s best friend Hannah and Jerome’s best friend Quentin are very important to the story. From Brussels, With Love is a romance but it has strong elements of friendship as well.
3. What was the hardest scene to write?
The guided tour at the beginning of the book. I really wanted Brussels to come alive, to convey Jerome’s knowledge and love for his city, but I didn’t want the scene to become an info dump. Going to Belgium for research was very helpful, but it’s probably the scene that took me the longest to write and was reworked the most.
4. What did you edit out of this book? Or really want to include but it just didn’t fit?
I had a whole subplot I had to edit out. Originally, Ronan earned his redemption and, by the end, he was friends with Trevor again. It didn’t fit with the story or Trevor’s growth as a character, so I cut it out. I wish readers could know he’s not a bad person deep down, but this is Trevor and Jerome’s story, not his.
5. What came first with From Brussels, with Love, the characters or the plot?
A bit of both. Trevor was a lot more clear in my head when I started, and it took a while for Jerome to talk to me. But I also knew from the beginning that I wanted the story set in Brussels and I wanted it to involve an artist. I’m usually a characters first writer, but I wrote From Brussels, With Love with a clear setting in mind, so my process was a bit different and everything ended up being intertwined.
6. If we made From Brussels, with Love into a movie, who would be your dream casting for Trevor and Jerome?
I usually use models instead of actors for inspiration, but let’s see… Chris Evans would work for Trevor if he wore a suit and was clean-shaven. Trevor is in his early forties, so by the time the movie was made, Evans would be the right age! Same for Zac Efron, who would make a good Jerome if he wore on-screen the casual look he wears in life… I’m such a cliché going with those two actors. And that’s why I go with models for inspiration.
7. What inspired you to start writing?
Probably all the books I read as a child. I had some excellent French teachers as well and, as part of our classes in middle school, we had to write stories often. I’ve always loved words. Other than a short story about a turtle I wrote as a child, my first writings outside of school were fanfictions. I wanted to know what happened to the characters of my favorite movie after the end credits. Since producers didn’t tell me, I came up with it.
8. What or who (or both) has influenced you most as a writer?
Oh boy… ask me the hardest question of them all, now would you? I write in English now, but my French and literature teachers taught me a lot about what makes a good story. All those things stay true no matter the language. I don’t have a specific author or person in mind. I picked up small things from everything I read and everyone I listened to over the years.
9. What have you learnt from the whole debut writer process? Do you have any advice for writers working on their first novel?
That writing is a business. In theory, I knew that, but it really hit me when From Brussels, With Love became a contracted book. I wrote many, many stories before so the drafting phase wasn’t that different, but I learnt that I really love working with a team. I had a blast working with my editors and cover designer.
My advice for not-yet-published writers is to never give up. Rejections are part of the writing business, so you shouldn’t let that deter you from trying again. And again. And again. It’s a very long journey. It takes a lot of words, a lot of stories, and a lot of patience, but it’s all worth it in the end.
10. What is your favourite childhood book?
I absolutely loved and devoured all the Dance and Coeur Grenadine books. Dance is a French series following a teen ballerina, Coeur Grenadine is a collection of teen romances. I used to read them in one sitting and would constantly ask my parents for another one. I still own all of them to this day. I haven’t reread them recently, and I’m not sure they would pass the test of time, but they are like childhood friends.
11. What do you like to do when you’re not writing? Do you have a secret passion or hobby that we don’t know about?
I don’t know if it’s that secret, but I love needlework. Cross-stitch and embroidery are very relaxing to me, so they’re my favorite things to do while watching YouTube or documentaries. I enjoy crafty things.
12. Finally, what’s your favourite dinosaur?
The pteranodon. The fact that it’s my favorite because of a kids tv series is completely irrelevant. 😉
Emy Calirel grew up in France, but also spent some time in Africa as a child. When she finally reached adulthood, she jumped on opportunities and moved to California, then Ireland, before coming back to her roots. San Francisco still holds her heart, though, and always will.
After trying a couple different jobs, she settled down and now works in a funeral home/monumental masonry, which she loves. To handle life’s daily stress, she laughs with her coworkers a lot and spends any free time she gets reading or daydreaming about queer folks finding their happily ever after.
She’s a cat owner, a plant killer, and a San Francisco Giants fan. Wanderlust flows in her veins, and her goal is to visit every capital in Europe—if she can ever stop herself from going back to London over and over again.
Emy’s muse is a sassy being who expertly farms plot bunnies in Emy’s overgrown imagination. As a consequence, Emy has more stories and characters living in her head than she’ll ever be able to write in her lifetime. She’s fine with it, though, as, like a child, she loves playing in her sandbox.
A documentary enthusiast and curious to a fault, Emy often loses herself in research and will happily share her discoveries with everyone. Did you know most mammals empty their bladders in twenty-one seconds?