Today, I have a very exciting post to share with you! It is a question time with the author of Kisses and Croissants, Anne-Sophie Jouhanneau! I loved Anne-Sophie’s novel, so, I couldn’t wait to ask her a few questions about the book, her writing process and more. Thank you so much to Anne-Sophie for taking the time to answer my questions. Here is my question time with Anne-Sophie Jouhanneau!
Anne-Sophie Jouhanneau is a novelist, nonfiction author, and freelance writer.
She also writes TV pilots, essays, Instagram captions, satire pieces, and grocery lists. She even wrote the words you’re reading right now. And the ones after. She’s unstoppable.
She do all of this in English and in French, mostly because she can, but also because “impossible” is the same word in both languages. “J’écris en français et en anglais parce que je peux le faire, mais aussi parce que “impossible” se dit pareil dans les deux langues.” See, she just did it.
Born and raised in France, Jouhanneau spent the last 16 years living around the world, first in Amsterdam, then in Melbourne, and now has been in New York City since 2011 where she lives with her Australian husband and their American cat. She has permanent work permits on three continents (including a green card), which will come really handy the day she learns teleportation (it could happen, you don’t know).
L: Hi! Please could you introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about your U.S debut novel ‘Kisses and Croissants’.
A: Bonjour! I’m Anne-Sophie (also known as Anso). I’m French and moved abroad after graduating university. I lived in Amsterdam first, where I worked in advertising, then in Melbourne, and I’ve now been in New York City since 2011.
Kisses and Croissants is about Mia, an aspiring ballerina who moves to Paris for a summer intensive dance program. There, she meets Louis, a very cute French boy, and together they explore the city along with a family mystery related to a Degas painting.
L: Ballet plays a huge part in ‘Kisses and Croissants’ what made you decide to make this such a central theme/element of this book and why?
A: I liked the idea of Mia having a strong sense of purpose for going to Paris. Her dream is very important to her, and she’ll stop at (almost) nothing to make it happen. I also knew this story would be romantic and upbeat, and many YA novels featuring ballet dancers have darker themes. This was an opportunity to combine the light and romance of Paris with the artistry and beauty of ballet.
L: This book is set in Paris, what made you decide on this location as oppose to somewhere like New York?
A: I grew up just outside Paris and have been in love with the city for as long as I can remember. I’ve always wanted to write a love story set in Paris that was also a love story with Paris. There are plenty of novels set in Paris written by American (or non-French) authors, and I wanted to challenge myself to make it as authentic as possible, and to make the city a character in the novel.
L: There is a subplot in this book that involves a mystery (I will say no more), was there anything in particular that inspired this?
A: I’ve always been a museum buff, and there were several exhibitions of Degas’s work around the time I was working on this novel. I was also interested to explore what it means when you think something is in your blood, that your dream is meant to be. Plus, trying to solve this mystery takes Mia and Louis to unusual locations where they have exciting adventures. That was fun to write.
L: I’m really intrigued by the ballet storyline as I have always wanted to try ballet. Do you have any ballet experience yourself or did you have to do research to learn the different moves, how the dancers train, etc.?
A: I did ballet from about age three to five, so I don’t think I can count that as relevant experience. I researched this story heavily: I spoke to dancers, watched ballet documentaries and movies, read nonfiction books and watched endless videos on YouTube, both of dance sequences and testimonies of dancers. I was also very lucky that a couple of people on my editor’s team were ballet dancers. They helped with getting the descriptions right and shared fascinating details.
L: Why do you think, even more so at the moment, that it is so important to have both light-hearted and difficult moments in books?
A: I think it’s always important to have a balance of lighthearted and difficult moments. That’s what makes stories work, what leads us to keep reading. Life itself can be a rollercoaster of emotions, and characters have to both face challenges and experience wins for readers to relate. But at this moment, light, escapist books can provide some much needed levity in our lives. It helps to be reminded that many stories do end well, and that difficult times are often temporary.
L: What topics and themes would you like to see discussed and talked about more within YA books?
A: I love to see friendship stories, especially when they’re a little messy and complicated, but ultimately positive, as friendships often are in real life. I want female characters who are flawed, make mistakes, and who aren’t defined by their relationship status. Body positivity was also important to me in this book. Many stories about ballet feature girls with eating disorders, but when I was researching that world, it struck me that dancers are athletes. I tried to portray them as such: enjoying food (they’re in France, after all!) and understanding what their bodies need.
L: The world is very different at the moment and a lot of people cannot visit their local bookstores. So, what do you think we can do as readers to help promote authors books and give them the love that they deserve?
A: Thank you so much for asking! Many independent bookstores have made ordering online for pick-up or delivery really easy, so while it’s been harder to browse physical bookshelves, it’s almost just as easy to buy books (which is, of course, the best way to support authors). Any time a reader mentions a book to a friend, posts about it on social media, or adds it to their Goodreads “want-to-read” list, it increases the book’s visibility. Word of mouth is so important, so talk about the books you enjoyed, or the ones you’re excited to read. Authors will be grateful for the shout out.
L: What other books would you recommend to fans of ‘Kisses and Croissants’?
A: I recently read Hot British Boyfriend by Kristy Boyce. It’s the story of a girl who, after a humiliating experience with her crush, goes on a study abroad to England hoping to find… a hot British boyfriend. It features a fun cast of characters and gave me wanderlust.
L: What are you currently reading, watching and listening to?
A: Reading: The Other Side of Perfect by Mariko Turk and Tokyo Ever After by Emiko Jean.
Watching: I’ve been slowly savoring Insecure because I love everything about it (the friendships, the fashion, Los Angeles!). I’m also watching a French show (available on Netflix) called Lupin.
Listening: Taylor Swift’s Folklore and Evermore have been on repeat for months. I can’t get enough.
L: Are you currently working on anything we can know about?
A: Yes! I have another YA standalone romance coming out fall 2022, also with Random House | Delacorte Press. I’m in the process of revising it and I don’t know how much I can say about it yet, but food is a big theme.
L: Finally, do you have a little positive story that involves your readers or just being an author that always makes you smile?
A: This might not be very original, but whenever I receive a message from a reader who enjoyed my book, it puts a huge smile on my face. If you love someone’s work, tell them! It will make their day.
Kisses and Croissants
Seventeen-year-old Mia, an American girl at an elite summer ballet program, has six weeks to achieve her dreams: to snag an audition with one of the world’s best ballet companies. But there’s more to Paris than ballet—especially when a charming French boy, Louis, wants to be her tour guide—and the pair discover the city has a few mysteries up its sleeve.
I loved asking these questions and hearing Anne-Sophies’s answers it was a lot of fun! Thank you so much to Anne-Sophie and Keely for this opportunity!
Be sure to check out my review of Kisses and Croissants here.