Writers Abroad Magazine 6 May 2017 - Page 9

WRITERS ABROAD MAGAZINE: THE THIRD SPACE FROM HERE… FEATURING JILL BROWN What brought you to France, when and from where? I first came to France in 1980 from Scotland to work as a chef on a millionaire’s yacht (formerly known as gin palaces) on the Côte d’Azur. Although fascinating at first, after a year I’d had enough and joined my future husband in another project, but still in France. We bought a Dutch working barge in London, turned her into a floating hotel, and crossed the Channel with her. After sixteen years of running weekly cruises for rich tourists on the French canals, my hair turned grey and my humour ran out. Apart from buying, renovating and selling/renting houses as an income, I became semi-retired. That’s when I took up writing and did a Writers Bureau course. What are the advantages of living in France for a writer? I wouldn’t say there is any specific advantage of living in France for a writer, except perhaps the pace of life is more relaxed. Has your writing output increased since you came to France? Before living here, I’d never written more than a diary. Once I moved here, any spare time I had I spent travelling, so the question doesn’t really apply. Is there anything you find hard to cope with in France? Sometimes the etiquette and the logical thinking can drive me mad, even after all these years, and I find the French less open than most of their Mediterranean neighbours. But I’d probably feel more of a stranger in Scotland now, to be honest, in a cultural sense. Of course, it’s always good to have a chance to speak your own language (I mean English not Scottish!) but it’s also essential to understand the people you live amongst by speaking theirs. This for me is no hardship though I still stumble on vocabulary. What impact did France have on you emotionally, sensorally or intellectually and did you incorporate this into your writing? At first, when everything was new to me, I often saw France, its people and way of life through rose-tinted spectacles and it was perhaps more of an inspiration than it is today, though the cultural differences and people’s reaction to me being an étrangère (foreigner) can still prompt ideas for stories. But, in general, I find more inspiration elsewhere. 8 | MAY 2017