Win a paperback copy of Vantastic France.

I will do the draw after 2pm today 24th to catch any late entries.

It has been said by many successful authors, that if you want to write a book then write about something that you know about. I have never actually owned a white van, but do know many people that have owned, one so I presume that counted.

I decided to write about a White Van Man moving to France, as I also knew a little about ex-pats in France being one myself. If I had just written about my own experiences in France, then the novel would not have been very exciting to say the least. So I decided to take snippets of little stories that I had overheard, then made up a few characters based ever so slightly on people that I had come across or had heard about. These characters then seemed to develop their very own personalities as the book grew, so to me they became real people. This turned out to be a godsend, because no one can actually sue me for defamation of character. Well apart from Clarissa, as most people who have actually read the book and live in France seem to think that they know her!

So my top tip for any ex-pat wanting to write a novel about ex-pat life in France is to go down to your local bar, shop, market or anywhere that other ex-pats congregate, or better still just follow an ex-pat forum, then you will have all the material that you will need. Once published, you will then have to go into hiding unless you use a pen name, something I didn’t realise that I should have done when writing my own novel.

As I didn’t actually use a pen name, I now have to wear various disguises when I visit places that ex-pats frequent, because another big mistake was putting a photo on my author’s profile on Amazon as I was actually attacked by a handbag wielding ex-pat in our local Super U last week. The reason that I knew she was an ex-pat was because  she was shouting loudly in English to the assistant on the check-out trying to be understood, which I know works as I always use that tactic myself to be understood by foreigners. Unfortunately, this particular day I was not wearing one of my disguises and as I queued up behind her she turned around and whacked me with her handbag, as she must have recognised me. Her husband who was in the middle of loading the trolley tried to calm  her down, ‘Clarissa for Christ’s sake, I told you that was not you in the book! The Clarissa in Vantastic France had blonde hair, yours is mousy grey.’

This must have been a bone of contention between them as she then preceded to hit him with her handbag, I then grasped the opportunity and left my shopping at the till to escape in my UK plated car, as I have not had the time to register it in France in the four short years that I have been here.

So why am I writing this little post and how can you win a copy of Vantastic France or maybe a few other prizes on various other blogs?  Well, it is all part of the ‘Ex-pat Blog Hop’, a scheme where ex-pats can post on the same day and offer a little prize to the readers of the posts, well I think that’s how it works. So here is a link to all the blogs  that you should visit and it is on a blog called Blog in France.

Just leave a comment on each blog to be entered into the spirit of the ‘Hop’ and have a chance of winning one of the prizes.

This is the link code for all the blogs, if you have a problem just use the one above.


About Steve Bichard

I run French Classified and Property
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33 Responses to Win a paperback copy of Vantastic France.

  1. Steph says:

    Brilliant, Steve. Thanks so much for taking part in the hop.
    And yes, all expats know a Clarissa ….!

  2. I better start hopping !

  3. As a lover of all expat novels on my frequent trips to Brittany, I would love to win your kindle version of Vantastic France.
    When I’m at our beach house in Brittany, I write on this blog; http://thebeachhousefrance.wordpress.com feel free to pass by some time
    Good luck with the hop, from an expat in Brussels, who loves France and is keeping fingers crossed!
    Lizzi

  4. A good read Steve, gave me a laugh on a damp Monday morning, but I do feel sorry for poor Clarissa, you have ruined her life!

  5. Hi Jacqui
    Secretly she told me that she is enjoying the fame. Thanks for poping by.

  6. nessafrance says:

    Hi Steve, nice to have a laugh on a grey morning. Thanks! Clarissa is painfully familiar! Good luck with the blog hop. Vanessa.

  7. Hi Vanessa, It certaily is a grey morning lets hope we get some well deserved sun soon.
    Glad I managed to give you a chuckle.

  8. She’ll really whack you with the handbaag next time she sees you, Steve, you’ve really indentified her properly now, grey hair and all!

  9. Hi Steve, I don’t own a white van either opting instead to buy a French car on arrival here. Now to figure out how to describe all those “thing-a-ma-bobs” in french is the challenge – I usually walk around with a note pad and draw all kinds of pictures…

  10. Hi GHV I took the easy route and met a lovely lady who has been here for over ten years, so I have my very own personal translator, which makes me very lazy when I am supposed to be learning French.

  11. Sounds like a fun book Steve – please count me in!

  12. Hi Helen. Nice to see an ex-pat visitor from Switzerland.

  13. Hi Steve – I have a white van and I’m an expat! I love my van! I have masses of renovation to do so its comes in handy for sheets of plasterboard and bags of cement and I couldn’t live without it! I also have a Clarissa in the next village along – unlike you I am beady eyed and look out for her when we go shopping and if I see her … we hide, grown ups hiding from a batty expat – what are we like?! Great blog and its been fun hopping with you!, regards Janine

    • Hi Janine – I am glad that you are part of the white van brigade, I fancy getting one myself as like you say they are so useful. I think anyone called Clarissa that lives in France will be after me now!

  14. Deb says:

    I have a Peugeot 206 and 2 horses, does that count?

  15. Hi Deb – A little birdy told me that it was your special birthday today, but you will still not get any special treatment from the adjudicators.

  16. Hmm, that’s strange – I would have sworn that I saw Clarissa yelling at the butcher in the Carrefour in Paris last week. You’re right, she certainly does get around!

    There’s an expat forum in France? Would you mind sharing the details. I used to frequent the English Forum in Switzerland but haven’t found it’s equivalent here.

    Happy Expat Blog Hop Day!

  17. Well there is Anglo Agro as I call it. I will send you a few others sometime
    http://brittany.angloinfo.com/

  18. Haha! I’ve been on the receiving end of some “If I speak louder and slower, then maybe she’ll get it” approach here in Texas 🙂 I moved here almost eight years ago and like to think my ENglish is pretty good, but once in a while there are some expressions I don’t know. Repeating the same thing over and over will not make me understand them 🙂

  19. I have another little problem as I sell plenty book in the UK, but not too many in the States. So I am going to add a couple of Yanks in the sequel to add a little balance. As you are state-side what do the Americans do to make themselves understood to foreigners?
    Same as us but louder I bet.

    • When I moved here eight years ago from Germany it happened more often, but once in a while I still get the L-O-U-D-E-R A-N-D S-L-O-W-E-R approach from some Americans (not most though). Of course louder and slower doesn’t help if you just don’t understand the word.

  20. Being hit with a handbag – well that’s all publicity I suppose. I’m glad i’m not the only one driving around after 3 years in a british registered car. Such a pain driving back for the MOT isn’t it though! I wonder if people stare at you as much as they do at me – but then If I will go round driving an enormous blue bubble. Please send me your ebook – have you got it in epub because I have a samsung???

    • It is just on Kindle as e-book because I am in the Kindle select programme to get better distribution. so you cannot put it elsewhere while you are in the select programme.

  21. Julia Stagg says:

    Think you ought to add a handbag to your disguise, Steve. At least that way you’d be armed too!

  22. Expat Alien says:

    This looks entertaining! I look forward to reading more about your adventures!

  23. Oh I have a few handbags to go with my outfits Julia 🙂
    Expat Alien- I wish my adventures were as exciting, with fiction you can be anyone or do anything!

  24. mbjssgpm says:

    I have your book on my wishlist now! Sounds like a great read. Love your blog too and thanks for feaeturing my forthcoming book on Guernsey evacuees. I really appreciate it.

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