Friday, February 5, 2010

French Friday (12) A Deux!!

French Friday is a weekly feature hosted by Charlotte at the Book on the Hill. We both live in France, so French Friday is a meme to write about Frenchy bookish things.

So I'm pretty psyched, Last week, Charlotte approached me with the idea of doing a "French Friday A Deux." We would interview each other, she said, with questions about France. What a GREAT idea, right?!?

So, I'm very excited to have for you today, an interview with the lovely Charlotte of the Book on the Hill. Enjoy!!

BBB:How long have you lived in Paris, and what is your relationship with the city?

TBOTH: I moved in Paris in 2005, to get into a musical theatre school, in which I stayed for two years. I could define my relationship with Paris as ‘contradictory’ : I love the city, but I love having some space. Paris is kind of narrow and oppressive once you’ve lived there for a few years. And people are always complaining. I’m currently in a gotta-get-out-of-here mood, my boyfriend and I have been thinking of moving for a while, and we’ll therefore be leaving Paris in spring. I think I’ll enjoy coming back from time to time, I’ve loved living here, Paris is a beautiful city, but I feel like like it’s time to move on.

BBB: Oh, I know exactly what you mean! It can be very narrow and oppressive! And people here are ALWAYS complaining, and it's horrible because I find myself slowly becoming one of those complainers. Next question!
Where else, if anywhere, have you lived in France? Tell us about it!

TBOTH:I grew up in Lot-et-Garonne and Dordogne (SW of France), in the countryside. A peaceful and beautiful place ! I lived in a very small village (400 inhabitants) when I was a child. Then we moved to another house (lost in the forest !), and I went to a boarding school in Sarlat, it was the only high school where I could study cinema on the side. I went to university in Bordeaux, which I loved (the city, not the university). My university years weren’t the best : the courses I took were crap (and that’s an understatement), we were all depressed, and the memories are foggy. But I’m often visiting friends in Bordeaux, either for fun or for work, and I still get really good vibes out of the place. That’s where we’ll be moving in a few months, in the countryside near Bordeaux. We intend to move to Canada in a few years too.

BBB: Very cool! I also went to boarding school, but mine was in ridiculously small town Louisiana. I'd love to visit the peaceful, beautiful place where you grew up!
Now, I know that you read a lot in English for work, but when you’re reading for you, do you prefer to read in French or English ? (For my readers that don't know, Charlotte has a job as a read for Hachette France. You can read about that here.)

TBOTH: I think I was already reading more in English than in French before becoming a reader. But since I started working as a reader (2 years ago), I think I haven’t read one single French book ! Except theatre plays. I really should start reading in French again, there are so many books out there I’d like to read. But I admit that my to-be-read pile is composed of English books only... I feel closer to English than French.

BBB: What is it like to be an actress in France ?

TBOTH: Haha, interesting question... It’s HARD ! I’ll try to give a short answer, because I think I could write pages and pages on the subject. I think being an actress anywhere in the world is kind of a personal war. But in France things are so difficult and complicated, everything you do has to be categorized, filed, and explained with concrete words and sentences. Theatre is NOT concrete. Being an actress is NOT concrete. If you choose the casting route, it’s hard but at least you know a bit where you’re going and you’re following the ‘normal’ path. But that’s not what I’m doing. I work as an actress for my company, but I also have to sell our creations, advertise, administrate, which involves hours and hours of worrying ourselves to death. For now, we spend more time trying to find some places to perform than we spend time on stage. Acting is not seen as a real job here, people think that famous actors are serious, but when you’re in a small company or a young unknown actor, you’re just an eccentric person who likes having fun on stage while wearing fancy costumes and saying weird things. Which is frustrating. Many people have no idea how much work theatre is. As long as your play is not in a well known theatre, you’re not taken seriously. I would love to be an actress in England for example, where theatre is part of the country’s mentality. But there’s a lot to be done here, so I guess I’ll be fighting for things to change for a while. Hope is my friend. And I love acting and entertaining and meeting people. I’ll just move somewhere else in the world if it doesn’t work out. :) Wow, did I say my answer would be short ?! Sorry !

BBB: Oh, that wasn't too long! It sounds quite stressful being an actress in France! How has your job as a reader influenced your job as an actress? And vice versa?

TBOTH: Mmm, I had never thought about that... I’ve always known that originality is the key, creatively speaking. I read tons of books, and so many are the same. But when one of them stands out, it makes all the difference. I guess it’s the same thing with acting, but also for writing and directing plays (which I do too). Also, I am very picky with characters in books, probably because playing a role requires character development. I don’t know if these two jobs influence each other, but I guess reading all these stories kind of boosts my imagination. The only problem is that my imagination is already waaay busy. But it’s always better to have too many ideas than none, isn’t it?

BBB: Indeed - more ideas is always better than less. :-)
So, when did you learn to speak English? Living in France, I’ve discovered that French people tend to have quite a bit of trouble with English. Have you previously lived in an English-speaking country, as yours seems to be pretty awesome?

TBOTH: French people do tend to be a bit English-lazy, yeah. As for me, my father is English, so when I was a child I heard him speaking English a lot. I’ve always loved this language. My parents split up when I was 10, and my stepfather happens to be English too ! So from then I grew up with English spoken at home all the time, plus watching films in English all the time too. So I’ve always understood English perfectly, although I’ve always lived in France. The only problem is speaking it : I don’t practice enough! I’m a shy English-speaker. I know I’m not that bad, I just need to get a grip really! I’ve actually got three nationalities : French (born here), English and Canadian (my father’s English, plus he lived in Canada for many years and got the nationality). Which is pretty cool. I’ve been raised more in British way than in a French one, and honestly I feel more British than French I think.

I'm totally a shy French speaker as well. I'm always scared that people are saying evil things about my French and my accent in their heads when I'm talking to them.
Okay, for a bit of a change, as a reader of YA, I’m guessing you’ve read quite a bit about American High Schools. How was your experience in French lycee different from what you’ve read about our American High Schools?

TBOTH: Thanks to YA books, I’m now officially an American-High-School-Specialist! There are so many differences between the two that the list could get very long, but let’s try to point out the main things.

1. Cheerleaders ? In France ? No way ! The only moment you could see a girl in a cheerleader outfit would be at a masked ball.

2. Proms ? Only in our dreams ! I’m sure a lot of us high school girls secretly dreamt of attending an American prom, but we all kept it to ourselves. Just thinking about it would’ve been considered uncool.

3. Lockers. Ah, how we would’ve loved to have our own little lockers. They just don’t exist here.
4. France is France. America is America. Your high schools seem way more exciting than ours, as much as your country does sound more exciting than ours. :)

The one similarity I can think of concerns the social ranks : may it be in the school bus, the cafeteria, the place where you hang out. The ‘Populars’ have their own places fixed in space and time, and so have the ‘Losers’ and the ‘In-Between’.

BBB: NO LOCKERS?!? I don't think I would have survived high school without one. Sounds terrible!
What is your most major complaint about France (so negative, I know!)?

TBOTH: You have every right to be negative. If I had to make a list of positive and negative things I can think of concerning France, The negative one would probably be 48 times longer than the positive one. That’s the reason why I’m seriously thinking of leaving the country someday. You’re asking about the major complaint, so let’s keep it to that. Like I said earlier, France equals complications. Therefore, I would add Paperworks as a synonym for France. If you separate the two, the earth might stop turning or fall into a black hole with shock. French administration is soooo boring, complicated, twisted, hypocrite and slow... Most of the time, it’s even surreal. You have no right to do this thing, but you can do it if you do another thing that is allowed and then undo it, write a letter to explain why you undid what you had done, and then wait 72 hours to have a phonecall that will tell you that you had no right to undo the first thing you’ve done and that the thing that you wanted to do in the first place was actually allowed. Take all that away : earth - black hole - end of the universe.

BBB: Agh! French bureaucracy and their paperwork! It really is crazy. I feel like they make it SO much more complicated here than it really needs to be!

Okay, now for the one word answer questions! :

Favorite French Author: Jacques Prévert

Favorite place to read in Paris: Home

Favorite Parisian bookstore: Shakespeare and Company

Favorite French city: Talmont-sur-Gironde

Most inspiring place in France (can be a city, a park, anything. . .): Dordogne Valley

Favorite French word: Tintinabuler

Favorite Parisian park: Buttes Chaumont

Baguettes are nice when crispy.

French men are nice when funny.

Favorite thing about book blogging: Interactivity

Well now, that was fun!!!! Thank you SO much, Charlotte, for having such a wonderful idea and providing such fun interview question answers!! :-) It's really been such a pleasure having you here at Brizmus Blogs Books today!

Now, if you haven't already, head on over to the Book on the Hill and check out her French Friday, where Charlotte will be hosting an interview with MOI! for her version of French Friday A Deux!

And note: I think I give a fairly negative impression of Paris in my interview, but I really have loved my time here, even if I'm not the HUGEST fan of LIVING in this city. It's still an amazing place!

A la prochaine!


Stormi said...

Great Interview! Love learning about what is like to live in France.

Tales of Whimsy said...

This was such a blast to read. I love reading and learning about you too Charlotte. I love the differences in high schools you mentioned. Very cool!

You know what would be a fun aspect of this feature? Post a picture of your favorite place in the city you currently reside in :)

Thanks girls. That was a blast to read.

Misty said...

This was really fun to read, especially the bit about high school. Sometimes, when I read or watch things about America that I know are completely exaggerated and ridiculous (intentionally, for humor), I always wonder what people in other countries think because they don't know how it really is, and they don't necessarily know that it's just for comedy.
I had a friend from France in high school (exchange student), and I remember that when she started getting really homesick, the thing she complained about was cheese. Always cheese. She was really down one day, and I asked her what was wrong, and she nearly cried "I want real cheese!"

Lauren said...

That was a fascinating interview to read, thanks to both of you. It always amazes me how London and Paris are so close together but England and France are so entirely different. (And most of us aren't great with each others' language either, which is strange for neighbours).

I really relate to the comments about American high school though. I did a little school in America and I was just amazed that people actually went to the football games.

Esme said...

C'est tres interessant. Je t'aime Sarlat-la foix gras-tres bien. I spent some time in the Dorgone region -visitng all the little vilages-I still ave foxi gras from that area.

Unknown said...

That was so very fascinating. I feel like I know so much more about Charlotte now and her life in France. Brilliant interview.

vvb32 reads said...

based on now i'm interested in reading french YA. what would be the focus? how about in regards to paranormal french YA? what creatures would prevail?

Simcha said...

Great interview. I love reading about different countries and cultures. The comparisons between French and American highschools was particularly interesting.

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