Jennifer Macaire is an expat wife, mother and novelist living in France. The following is Part Two of a trilogy of weekly Q&As leading up to the March 9th re-release of her novel The Road to Alexander, Book One of the epic Time for Alexander series of novels. A separate post with an excerpt of the novel will follow each of these sessions as well.
Q: For this book you use a first-person viewpoint. What narrative advantages as well as challenges did that present you with this particular story?
I started this as a short story – otherwise I’m not sure I would have used first person viewpoint, but once I got started, and the story started to develop, it made sense to continue. It gave a more personal touch to the story. I think it connects the reader to the main character in a way that is coherent with the theme of the tale – that of an outsider looking in. Since Ashley is so far removed from the mindset of the people at the time, it gave me a little more freedom to be creative. I didn’t have to worry about justifying or explaining something that I (as a modern woman) could not possibly understand. Ashley has a hard time with slavery, with war (no Geneva conventions in those days) and religion, for example, so it was more fun to be in her head looking out than trying to pretend to be someone from ancient Persia or Greece.
Q: I know you’re a voracious reader. Can you tell us what authors have had the biggest influence on you in recent years?
In recent years, I’d have to say Neil Gaiman – I was a latecomer to his books; my daughter actually got hooked on him first. Also Diana Norman, both her books and the ones she wrote as Ariana Franklin. She was an amazing historical fiction writer. But I’m not sure my writing style has changed much because of them. I think my style is pretty much set. The writers who I feel truly influenced me were: (in chronological order, no less!) Ray Bradbury, Kurt Vonnegut, and Dorothy Dunnett.
Q: Does being an expatriated American residing for so many years in France give you a unique perspective as a story-maker and writer?
Maybe for writing history, lol. I feel surrounded by it here, it’s all over. I go downtown, and there are ruins and towers from the middle ages, and there are even Roman ruins, traces of the Gauls, museums and such everywhere. It’s nice. It was also fun to go to Rome, see the places where I’d set some of the story in my books. And there is an ancient Greek nymphorium near my town, where the people of the time worshipped at a sacred spring. My spellcheck keeps telling me nymphorium doesn’t exist – but I hesitate to call it a temple, since I don’t think nymphs were worshipped in temples. Ah well, there I go being pedantic again. But if you want, you can see a picture of it here:
Q&A to be continued next Thursday, March 9th . . . and now read the second (of three) excerpts of The Road to Alexander here.
~ About the Author ~
Jennifer Macaire is an American living in Paris. She likes to read, eat chocolate, and plays a mean game of golf. She grew up in upstate New York, Samoa, and the Virgin Islands. She graduated from St Peter and Paul High School in St Thomas and moved to NYC where she modeled for five years for Elite. She went to France and met her husband at the polo club. All that is true. But she mostly likes to make up stories. Her short stories have been published by Three Rivers Press, Nothing But Red, The Bear Deluxe, and The Vestal Review, among others. One of her short stories was nominated for the Push Cart Prize (Honey on Your Skin) and is now being made into a film. Her short story ‘There be Gheckos’ won the Harper Collins /3 AM flash fiction prize.