“No disability is big enough to destroy a dream.”
I’ve known Laura for over a year now – she’s my French little sister, ma petite soeur – and we often send messages to each other.
We first met at the Festival New Romance in Paris, and so I was one of the first people to hear that she was writing a novel with her French author friend Jane Devreaux.
I’m so proud of their achievement – and so sad that my French isn’t up to the task of reading their first novel together, Broken.
But read on to find out how this fascinating collaboration came about.
How did you meet? When did you decide to write a book together?
Jane: First of all, reading has brought us closer. Laura read my books and we chatted on social networks. Then we met at the New Romance Festival and we got closer.
Laura: At first, I knew Jane as an author with her novel saga Close-Up. After that, we exchanged a lot on a daily basis via social networks. Finally, we met for the first time at the New Romance Festival in Cannes. It is only natural that trust has developed between us over time, and that we have decided to unite in our common passion, writing.
Broken is out in French on 9 January – congratulations! Can you tell us what it’s about?
Jane: It talks about a young woman whose life smiles but who loses everything at a party. She wakes up at the hospital and is disabled.
Laura: Thank you very much! Broken is the story of two young teenagers who face a situation of disability overnight. It is a touching story, with many twists and turns, full of love and emotions. Don’t hesitate any longer to read this book!
Why did you decide to choose a title in English rather than French ?
We chose Broken thought the title sounded better in English than in French, Cassée.
What is the significance of the cover design ?
This cover simply and perfectly echoes the story of Colyna and Mozart. It means, I think we all have our own breaks in life. And we all have to live with it, to gradually rebuild ourselves.
How does it feel now that your book-baby is about to be revealed to the world?
Jane: Anxious and worried, too. We are always afraid that it doesn’t please, that our baby doesn’t find his audience.
Laura: I’m stressed, worried that Broken may not be appreciated. Actually, I don’t realize at all that I wrote a book. It has finally become a concrete project and knowing that it will be shared in the eyes of all is crazy!
When did you start to feel like a writer? When was the moment for you when you thought, Yes! I’m a writer!
Jane: Personally, I still do not feel like a writer, I feel that it would be pretentious. My books are not perfect, I’m not looking for beautiful rewards, I just want the reader to experience emotions.
Laura: Honestly, I still can’t admit that I am a writer. I still can’t believe I wrote a book! I hope one day to be able to tell myself that one day I am a writer! I think I will be able to believe that when I have a little more confidence in myself and my writing. I think that believing in yourself is a long journey that we follow throughout our lives.
What was your method for writing together – or as you say in French – a book of four hands!
Jane: Oh, I didn’t know that the ‘four hands’ theme wasn’t used in English! We started by writing a plan and agreeing on the unfolding of the story, and then progressed gradually. We wrote chapter after chapter, assuring ourselves that we were in agreement before continuing.
Laura: We did not have a method strictly speaking. We decided to write one chapter each at the beginning. But as soon as the writing of a chapter did not speak to us specifically, the other one took over. Honestly, we were always able to find common ground. Were a real team, Jane and I.
Laura, you told me this book has aspects that reflect your life? Did that make it harder to write – or easier?
I think that every author puts a little bit of themselves into each of their projects. Honestly, it would be a lie if I told you it’s 100% easier. No it’s not, at times it was hard for me to write some passages, sometimes I even cried and doubted because through Broken, it’s the first time in my life that I ever said words to myself about what touches me every day, the difference.
Jane, when you’re working with aspects of someone’s life story, what were the differences between this and writing pure fiction?
It isn’t always easy to write about feelings you’ve never felt. I tried to imagine myself instead of Laura, and she guided me a lot to write.
Laura, you and I have discussed how ill-health can make it a challenge to write sometimes, but tell us how this affects your writing. I know there are physical challenges to getting words onto the page or meeting deadlines when bad health stalks you. What are the mental challenges?
Excellent question! Like everyone else, I have days without issues and days with. Every night before I go to sleep I wonder if tomorrow will be a good day, if my hands will be cooperative and so will my other muscles, it’s an anguish every day. It was sometimes very difficult for me to respect the writing deadlines, when my body was lazy I was often two or three days late. Each time, I felt uncomfortable and sad. For Broken, I was lucky enough to be my own editor, and to have a co-author like Jane, very understanding in the face of my disability. Since I started writing and partly thanks to Jane’s support, I have understood that sometimes you have to let your body rest, to recover, when it needed it most, even if I don’t like it, because I always tend to do more than I should. I also understood that even if sometimes everything that matters to me takes time, as in this case, writing. No disability is big enough to destroy a dream. Writing for me is like living a waking dream.
Jane, you’ve been a writer for xx years and have written eight books. Have you written with a friend before? What are the pros and cons of this?
Broken is actually my eighth book. This is the first time I don’t write alone and I had to adapt. I wrote another story in parallel to give Laura time to move on her side, as well. And when Laura’s health prevented her from moving forward, I sometimes took over. But Laura invested a lot and despite the fatigue, she was always very present for our project.
Why do French readers dislike books in the third person? It seems to be a real thing.
Jane: I think it’s a story of habit. Before most books were written in the third person and it did not bother anyone. Today, the trend has reversed and many people have learned to appreciate it. The reader is more in the place of the hero in this way.
Laura: It’s very real, but I disagree with Jane – personally, it doesn’t bother me at all.
What are you working on now?
Jane: I like juggling between genres. I am currently on a romantic thriller and a paranormal romance.
Laura: Right now, I’m just starting to get some ideas for a next solo novel this time. I am working on an original story that will take place in the 1920s.
What sort of books do you like to read?
Jane: I like reading everything, but I admit to being a little disappointed if there is no romance, even in the background, in the story.
Laura: I read various kinds of books. Romance, biographical novels, science fiction, fantasy and finally books on personal development.
What is the most rewarding part of being a writer?
Jane: I think it’s sharing with readers. They push us to question ourselves, sometimes to see our stories from another angle.
Laura: I think it is to write with our hearts and then be rewarded with a positive or negative opinion, because I think any opinion is good to take. And I have the same opinion as Jane.
What do you want to achieve next?
Broken is only the beginning, we haven’t thought about it yet. Why not have it translated so that English readers will one day discover this story 😀 !
What is your favourite reader experience, either in messages or at an event?
Jane: At my very first festival, I made a reader cry when it wasn’t my intention at all. I explained to her how becoming a mother made me aware of all the dreams I had left out.
Laura, you seem to have a bit of a sweet spot for Stu Reardon. True or false?!
Jane: lol ;p
Laura: I think it’s time I told the truth… Yes… Honestly, of course not, I don’t have a thing for Stuart, absolutely not. We are only friends on a daily basis. I have a lot of respect for him. I don’t think one person can be prettier than another. We are all beautiful, in our own way.
What is your philosophy in life?
Jane: Nothing is impossible
Laura: As long as there’s life, there’s hope
Describe yourself in three words.
Jane: Patient, calm, lonely
Laura: I am a generous, lonely and determined person.
How would your best friend describe you?
Jane: Strange, unsociable ;p
Laura: My best friends describe me as a pretty, generous, smiling and strong person, unsociable, a fighter, an open-minded, free, and a selfless person.
If you were an animal, what would you be?
Jane: A cat, I think I fit them a lot.
Laura: A dog, for sharing, love, and happiness.
Most likely to say…
Jane: I think I made a ball (I don’t know if that translates in English !)
Laura: I prefer reading other than sleeping and of course, Jane Harvey-Berrick is a fantastic friend and author.
Least likely to say…
Jane: You’re breaking my balls (sorry)
Laura: I’m afraid of the dark.
What is your favourite colour and why?
Jane: I studied art and I learned to love them all. Since then, it’s hard for me to make a choice.
Laura: My favorite colors are purple and red. I won’t be telling you why for the purple, but for the red, maybe I could tell you more. I like to wear them because apparently according to those around me, this colour enhances me and personally it gives me the impression of being stronger.
When you’re having a bad day, what cheers you up?
Jane: A little reading always makes me feel good.
Laura: My cure after a bad day is to read and live another life for a moment.
What would be your ideal day? Where would you be? Who would you be with?
Jane: Under my comforter with a good book or a family walk.
Laura: My ideal day would be to be surrounded by the people who matter to me. No matter where it is located
Mountains and snow, or beaches and sunshine?
Jane: Both, I am unable to choose.
Laura: Both too, I can’t choice.
Do you think writers are different to other people? Are we observers? Creators?
Jane: I believe everyone in his part of writer in itself, just some people develop it more than others.
Laura: I think we are as much observers as creators. I like to think that to create a universe above all, we are all inspired by what we observe around us on a daily basis.
Where do you see yourself in ten years’ time?
Jane: With about fifteen more books and I hope a little more known.
Laura: In ten years, I would see myself living in a house with the person I love, our children and our dog. We will be united and filled. And I will continue to read and write.
What message would you like to give to the people who read your book/s?
Especially hope and full of adventures and emotions!
You can buy Broken in French at:
Paperbacks to follow soon!