Welcome to Spotlight Sunday! Today for your interviewing pleasure we have Janice MacLeod-Lik, the author of Paris Letters! Please give her a warm welcome and Janice, enjoy your day in the spotlight!
Janice MacLeod-Lik: Hello! I am fortified with copious amounts of strong French coffee, snuggled in my tiny Paris apartment and ready to go. Bring on the questions and comments.
Frankie Knight: Good morning Janice! Nervous? I am sure you will love your day as I did a few weeks ago. What/who started you off writing?
Janice MacLeod-Lik: I’ve always been compelled to write, and would write in journals off and on when I was a kid. Also became a copywriter to write as a profession. But in 2010, frustrated with my inability to stick to journal writing, I made a New Year’s resolution to write three pages a day in my journal for a year. That really got the ball rolling… and some of that became part of the first third of the book. Score!
Frankie Knight: Does that mean you are not a full time writer but manage to fit it in between a job? That is staggering!
Janice MacLeod-Lik: That was before. I was a full time writer in advertising, and wrote in my journal on the side. Now I’m a full time writer and artist, which makes it much easier to fit in writing a whole book. Turns out, I was never meant for Cubicle Land. I meant to work alone at home in my yoga pants. THIS. IS. BLISS.
Frankie Knight: Nothing like being your own boss and doing what you want when you want to! Do you have friends and family supporting you?
Janice MacLeod-Lik: Back when I said I was going to quit my job and move to Europe, no one even believed me, let alone supported me. People say things like this all the time so no one thought I was serious. But when I quit that job and got on that plane, they started to think I might actually do it. My mom still freaks out, thinking there is nothing stable about my job. Even after my book became a best seller. And this is my THIRD book! Now everyone just shuts up and watches me go, which may be the best support they can give.
— I had one friend who believed me. He wanted to move to Europe and become a rock star. We would tell each other of our plans. Last year he opened for Chris Isaak in Paris. So one person supported me, the only one that thought his outrageous dream was also possible.
Sarah Jane Butfield: Hi Janice MacLeod-Lik, great to meet you, I am a big journal fan, did you journal as teenager?
Frankie Knight: I’m off out to the market now but will pop back later. Suspect everyone is still in bed and you’ll be bombarded later when they’ve had coffee!
Janice MacLeod-Lik: Hello Sarah, yes I wrote in my journal as a teenager, big accounts of BOYS. All about boys and how hungry I was for love.
Sarah Jane Butfield: Ditto As a child I didn’t have many close friends to trust with personal stuff like boy talk so my journal was my way of working things out. What do you love most about life in Paris?
Janice MacLeod-Lik: I love the layers of Paris. This city is so dense with things to see and do. Just the other day I was walking down a street I’ve walked down hundreds of times. I saw a grand door, ornate with statues and geraniums. It was gorgeous. Never noticed it before. Paris is filled with secret gardens and interesting pathways and nooks and details. It’s the City of Eye Candy. That’s what I love most. And the freshly baked baguettes each morning. Yum.
Jacqueline Brown: Hi Janice, I loved your book, do tell everyone else how your move to Paris started with clearing out your underwear drawer. I was really inspired by your organisation and determination!
Janice MacLeod-Lik: Ah yes, the famous underwear drawer! When I decided that I was going to save up and quit my job, I thought, well, if I quit my job I’d like to travel for a long time. That means I’d likely give up my apartment. If I gave up my apartment. If I were going to leave my apartment, I’d have to clean out the drawers. If I were going to clean out drawers, I’d start with my underwear drawer as it’s the easiest and fastest. (No need to try on undies to know if they should be kept or tossed) Once I cleaned it out, I felt so great about having a neat little pile of gotchies that I moved on to clean out other drawers. By the time I saved up enough cash I also had my life down to one suitcase, which I packed and took with me on my travels. It all started with that underwear drawer. It got the ball rolling.
Jacqueline Brown: I confess yours is THE only life in France memoir that I’ve read that led to 8 dustbin sacks of old stuff making it’s way from my drawers and wardrobes to the local Red Cross shop. I am still a long way off being down to one suitcase, but it was a good start, thank you!
Gemma Murphy-Sanderson: Hi Janice. What are the worst things about living in such a beautiful city?? What sort of art do you do?
Janice MacLeod-Lik: Jacqueline, I love that title! THE only life in France memoir that resulted in 8 dustbin sacks for charity. THAT. IS. FANTASTIC.
Jacqueline Brown: It felt great too!
Janice MacLeod-Lik: Gemma, great question. The worst thing about living in Paris is dealing with visa paperwork. It’s a system devoid of intelligence. They just ask for random papers and don’t explain why. And then they ask for other random papers. You have to read their minds to get a visa approved. The whole system is run by buffoons.
— Gemma, you also asked what sort of art I do. I created a mail subscription service called Paris Letters. I create an illustrated letter each month, make copies, personalize each copy with the receivers name and send it off in the mail. People love fun mail. They especially love fun mail from Paris. Here’s a little video of one. http://janicemacleod.com/letters/
Gemma Murphy-Sanderson: Love the letters they are just gorgeous.
–I think that that trouble with paperwork is common all over mainland Europe unfortunately. X
Janice MacLeod-Lik: Quite possibly. It’s an inefficient system. When I worked in the USA for a decade (I’m Canadian and needed visas), I saw how efficient the system was… it spoiled me for the complete lack of brain in the French visa system.
–Changing subject as visa talk seriously harshens my mellow… is there anyone out there writing a travel memoir now and wondering how to organize it all?
Anne Wine O’clock Durrant: Good morning Janice – I love your ‘Letters’ and the unusuality of them. Where were you born?
Janice MacLeod-Lik: Hi Anne, I was born in Canada, outside of a teeny tiny village called Clear Creek. It’s on the north shore of Lake Erie. It was so small that the bus driver was also the mail man and ran the general store. It’s a far cry from Paris.
Anne Wine O’clock Durrant: What made you choose Paris?
Janice MacLeod-Lik: by the way Anne Wine O’clock Durrant, I love your Facebook name… Wine O’clock Durrant. Well done!
–I decided on Paris simply because I was falling in love with the butcher across from the café. The lovely Christophe and I started a little romance when I was in Paris and touring around Europe. After my lovely weeks in Paris, I left and kept traveling. But he asked me to come back. He convinced me to unpack my suitcase. Before I started traveling, I fantasized about living in Rome. Rome was actually the last stop on my tour. I planned it that way so I could decide whether to stay or go. I ended up in Paris, which is actually a better fit for me. And the lovely Christophe soon became the lovely husband. Even I can’t believe it.
Jacqueline Brown: Do you get to travel back to Canada/US very often?
Janice MacLeod-Lik: I have traveled to Canada a few times for various family events… like my own wedding reception and such. I’m falling deeply in love with the west coasts. The Rockies are new and exciting for me as I came from Southern Ontario, which is rather flat. I haven’t been to the US since I left but I’d love to get back there. Certain places (like Hawaii) hold me like a spell. And to revisit my old haunts would be nice. I miss Peet’s Coffee.
Anne Wine O’clock Durrant: I have some friends in Ralston – Alberta (I think) my geography of Canada is not that good. My son, and his family are going to visit them this summer. I am quite envious of them – but I do get to look after their dog
Janice MacLeod-Lik: I had to look up Ralston. Yes, it’s in Alberta. My geography is off, too. I haven’t lived in Canada since 1999. It’s been awhile. Hard to find my roots. It’s amazing I can still speak English.
–Though I’m not great at French either. But I’m bilingual in Franglais.
Victoria Connelly: Hi Janice – I’m a fellow author (and have had 3 books with Sourcebooks in the US – I see you’re with them). I really admire you leaving your job and becoming an artist because that’s what my husband and I did too although on a slightly smaller scale – leaving London for Suffolk! I look forward to reading your books – ‘Paris Letters’ sounds wonderful. Can I ask what is next for you? Are you still writing?
Jacqueline Brown: As a multi-lingual couple what language do you use at home?
Janice MacLeod-Lik: Victoria, Oooh nice to meet you. I’m adding you to my Reading List. Yes I still write though I must admit, the Paris Letter mail subscription service has picked up steam since the book came out, so I’m spending a lot of days writing out envelopes. It’s good though because writing out envelopes keeps part of my brain occupied so the new ideas can slip in the side. I currently have two book ideas and am not sure which will win out. I’ll start on both and see which wins in the end.
–acqueline, we both speak a kind of Franglish. This means he uses the words he knows in English and fills in the rest with French, and I do the opposite. When I think back to a conversation we’ve had, I’m never sure which language we spoke in. It’s that fluid at this point. Though sometimes we use charades. In recent times, I was trying to describe a centipede. I didn’t know the word in French and neither did he (French isn’t his mother tongue) so charades ruled. It was a very funny conversation. And now I think… ARGH… Centi (hundred) Pede (feet)… the root of that word IS French.
Victoria Connelly: I LOVE your illustrated letters – what a gorgeous idea. Do you know about ‘Postcard from Provence’? Do look it up – something similar that’s taken off in a big way. I’m also fiddling around with 3 different book ideas at the mo and not quite settled into one. A nice but somewhat frustrating position to be in! Lovely to meet you here.
Janice MacLeod-Lik: Wow! I just checked out Postcard from Provence. It’s GORGEOUS. I’m so inspired. I might have to do a letter a day. I’ve been looking to evolve my daily practice of journal writing. I might have to add paint. Thanks for the find Victoria.
Victoria Connelly: You’re welcome! And I’ve just ordered a letter from you – so excited!
Janice MacLeod-Lik: Thanks! Oooh wee. I love when my Etsy app lets me know I have a new order. There is a cash register sound. Makes me laugh laugh laugh every time. I think that’s the key to a successful biz. Do something that provokes laughs.
–All this talk about life in Paris made me have to zip out and buy a baguette. Got rained on. But worth it.
Victoria Connelly: Have to ask – have you seen the film ‘Before Sunset’ and what is ‘Shakespeare and Co’ like? I loooong to visit!
Becky Corwin-Adams: Good morning Janice. Your books sound fascinating. Good for you having the courage to step out of your comfort zone and follow your passion to write.
Janice MacLeod-Lik: I have seen Before Sunset… and the two sequels. Shakespeare & Co is a crowded little hotspot of wonder. It’s the old bookstore you imagine in fairy tales, but less dusty. I’m delighted by the vibe, the history and book selection. Plus, when I get caught in the rain, it’s the best place to stay dry.
— Becky, thanks for the kind words. Stepping out of the comfort zone is easy when the comfort zone gets uncomfortable. That’s what happened to me. My skin crawled in my old life. I had to figure out another plan.
Sarah Jane Butfield: Exactly a comfort zone is only comforting when it supports you in body, mind and spirit
Colleen Davis: Just wanted to pop on and tell you I really enjoyed your book. You have a gift for life and story telling.
Susan Joyce: Janice, good morning from Uruguay! Just signing on and reading your wonderful interview. Will ask a question after I’ve read through the many you’ve been asked this morning. Welcome to the tell-all seat!
–Janice, seems we have many things in common. You speak Franglais and I speak Spanglish. Fun.
–Shakespeare & Co, a must stop when in Paris.
–Janice, love your letters. A great gift to others. Now that you’re married to a Frenchman a visa should be much easier to get. Right?
Bambi Flanner: I love how you describe Cristophe; the blue eyes of mystics and madmen. Are you still a vegetarian? lol
Bill Anderson: Couldn’t help but identify with your comments on french bureaucracy . 11 years in Spain and I still haven’t come to terms with it. All the best.
Evie Setiadi: Janice, I love your book! I’ve almost finished reading it now. You inspired me to start drawing again (hadn’t drawn since I was 13!)