Sunday, 27 November 2022

I Interviews

Interview: Betsy St. Amant

Can you provide a brief description of your new book, The Key to Love?

Romance-obsessed, sweet-treats baker Bri Duval has been holding out for a love story like her late parents’—one that certainly doesn’t include scorned travel writer Gerard Fortier. But when the Pastry Puff goes viral and Gerard is sent by Trek Magazine to write a feature on it, Bri realizes he might have been sent to unlock more than just some much-needed marketing on her macarons.

Tell us a little more about the history of the love-lock wall in Paris and why you decided to include a similar wall in your new novel.

Betsy St. AmantFunny story—the love-lock bridge in Paris over the Seine River had been an icon since 2008. After some portions of the railing collapsed in 2015, Paris deemed the bridge a dangerous “eyesore” and removed the railings full of locks and replaced them with panels. The ironic part is, they did this literally a month or two after I started writing this story. My original plan was to set the story partially in Paris, but because of this major change, I had to make adjustments. It turned out for the best, though—my heroine created her own version of a love-lock wall at her Parisian-themed bakery in the Midwest instead. Whew!

Journalist Gerard Fortier and bakery owner Bri Duval have very different views on love. Can you explain a little more about how this complicates the budding romance between them?

After watching his single mother “man hop” over the years and living through his own failed engagement, Gerard is the scorned, permanent bachelor type. He dreads the “L word” and would rather focus on his career as a travel writer. Bri, however, is the epitome of romantic expectation because of the idealistic love story she believes her parents had. She’s holding out for a love like theirs, which is beyond realistic. If Gerard is tattoos and leather, Bri is lace doilies and heart-shaped cookies. Their opposite views on love clash immediately, but over time, their places begin to switch as Bri’s reality is shaken by letters she finds in her mother’s trunk.

Bri loves baking almost as much as she loves romance. What type of research was required to accurately portray Bri’s career?

Bri’s love of baking is tied to her mom, who trained under a French chef in Paris, and also to the people of her community, whom she loves serving. I had to research ingredients for some of the yummy French pastries Bri concocts, such as the petit fours and, of course, the famous macarons. I highly recommend reading this novel with a sweet treat in reach!

In The Key to Love, readers will find that love doesn’t always look the way we expect. But sometimes that is a good thing. Can you offer some insight on this statement?

As a woman who survived an unwanted divorce and is now remarried, I can personally attest to the fact that love rarely comes in the way or in the shape we anticipate. It’s easy for men and women alike to have an expectation that sets the bar too high for anyone to live up to. They turn down good things in life that come their way because they don’t recognize them. In The Key to Love, I hope readers see alongside Brithat love isn’t just the colored icing on top of the cake like we often expect. Love is also crumbly andmessy, and there are occasionally burnt parts and pieces that aren’t as sweet. Love, true love, is the whole cake.

Do you have a favorite character?

This is a hard question, because I absolutely adore Gerard, but I think the bakery owners, Mabel and Agnes, really steal the show. Their sarcastic, elderly sister banter is one of myThe Key to Love favorite features of the book. They cracked me up through the whole story!

What do you hope readers take away from The Key to Love?

For me, this was a story of identity. It’s so easy as women to place our identity in things that don’t hold up, such as our appearance, our value as an employee, our merit as a mother, etc. Bri placed her identity in her parents’ love story. When that pedestal she had her parents on began to wobble, it made her doubt everything she knew because her foundation wasn’t strong. I hope readers discover along with Bri thattrue love doesn’t always look the way we expect and our identities as women can’t be placed in someone else’s story but rather in the Greatest Story ever told.

What are you working on next?

I’m currently writing a taco-themed, food truck–wars story with a You’ve Got Mail twist, and I’m loving every cilantro-coated minute of it! I can’t wait for readers to meet Rory and Jude next!

How can readers connect with you?

I love hearing from readers! They may reach me via email through my website or through my Facebook author page, Betsy St. Amant Haddox, and Twitter @betsystamant.

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