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Take Five: Hazel Gaynor, Heather Webb, and Meet Me In Monaco

We have a special treat this Sunday morning, Tribe. Two writers, ahem, grace us with their presence today to talk about their latest co-adventure, Meet Me In Monaco [1], which will be available for consumption on July 23rd. Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb [2] are here to tantalize us with an insiders look.

Heather Webb is the internationally bestselling and award-winning author of six historical novels set in France, including Becoming Josephine and Rodin’s Lover, and the upcoming Ribbons of Scarlet, Oct 2019. She was the recipient of the WFWA 2018 STAR award. She lives in New England with her children and husband.

Hazel Gaynor is the New York Times and internationally bestselling author of six historical novels including The Girl Who Came Home and, most recently, The Lighthouse Keeper’s Daughter. She was the recipient of the 2015 RNA Historical Novel of the Year award, and shortlisted for the 2017 Irish Book Awards. She lives in Ireland with her husband and children.

“…A scrumptious concoction served up with delectable descriptions and heaps of emotion. Sweet, then bitter, then sweet again, the love story is woven through with Grace’s fairy-tale romance with Rainier and its devastating ending , snatching redemption from tragedy in the best Hollywood style.” (Publishers Weekly)

Q1: What’s the premise of your new book?

Grace Kelly’s iconic wedding to Monaco’s Prince Rainier provides a glamorous backdrop for a story which revolves around the intersecting lives of the future princess, a passionate French perfumer, and a loveable British press photographer.

Q2: What would you like people to know about the story itself?

Meet Me in Monaco is described as a novel about ‘passion, fate, and second chances’ in which we ‘take the reader on an evocative sun-drenched journey along the Côte d’Azur.’ As a summer book it is deliberately full of 1950s glamour, and while there is undeniable romance at the heart of the story (there’s a wedding between a prince and a princess after all!), it is also about so much more. We especially loved developing Sophie’s world as a struggling perfumer desperate to preserve her father’s legacy in Grasse, Provence – the perfume capital of the world. Capturing all the evocative scents on the page as she hones her craft was amazing to write, and this aspect of the book has resonated with a lot of readers.

Q3: What do your characters have to overcome in this story? What challenge do you set before them?

Our fictional characters, Sophie and James, both have to overcome their own obstacles to find true happiness. Sophie has to learn to believe in her talents as a perfumer and also how to draw boundaries with both her alcoholic mother and her controlling boyfriend, who both attempt to manipulate her. James has to overcome his guilt at a failed marriage and being an often-absent father, as well as come to terms with what it is he truly wants to do with his photography talents.

Q4: What unique challenges did this book pose for you, if any?

It is always a challenge to write about real people from history. There’s an obligation to ‘get it right’, while also not becoming shackled by the facts. Although Meet Me in Monaco was inspired by Princess Grace, it isn’t a biographical account of her life, but we still wanted her to be on as many pages as possible, and for her influence on Sophie and James to be ever-present. We created our fictional journalist and her newspaper articles as a device for us to allow the reader to stay with Grace, even when she isn’t centre stage in a scene. We also wrote at least four versions of the prologue and opening, trying to nail down the tone we were aiming for. Of course, co-writing a novel across the Atlantic ocean will always pose its challenges as well, but, as Grace Kelly once said, ‘a woman can do anything she decides to do.’ We were up for it!

Q5: What has been the most rewarding aspect of having written this book?

It has been amazing to write another book together, to spend time together in Monaco, but the best reward is to know that readers are loving the book, connecting with our fictional characters, and left wanting to know more about Grace Kelly. Mission accomplished!

In addition, Hazel and Heather told us, We’re currently working on our third Gaynor & Webb book, Advice for Lady Adventurers! It’s a coming-of-age tale in the vein of Thelma and Louise, about two feuding sisters who must follow in the footsteps of Nellie Bly’s race around the world in order to secure their inheritance, only to encounter the Nazi occupation in Europe at the start of WW2.”

Thank you for your time today, Hazel and Heather. Readers, pre-order your copy today. You know your inner Francophile wants you to.

About [3]

Writer Unboxed began as a collaboration between Therese Walsh [4] and Kathleen Bolton [5] in 2006. Since then the site has grown to include ~50 regular contributors--including bestselling authors and industry leaders--and frequent guests. In 2014, the first Writer Unboxed UnConference (part UNtraditional conference, part intensive craft event, part networking affair) [6] was held in Salem, MA. Learn more about our 2019 event, ESCAPE TO WuNDERLAND, on Eventbrite. [7] In 2016, the Writer Unboxed team published a book with Writer's Digest. AUTHOR IN PROGRESS: A No-Holds-Barred Guide to What It Really Takes to Get Published [8] has been well-received by readers who seek help in overcoming the hurdles faced at every step of the novel-writing process--from setting goals, researching, and drafting to giving and receiving critiques, polishing prose, and seeking publication. James Scott Bell has said of the guide, "Nourishment for the writer's soul and motivation for the writer's heart." You can follow Writer Unboxed on Twitter [9], and join our thriving Facebook community [10].