A WRITER'S PORTRAIT * VICKI ARCHER

The lovely writer, Vicki Archer, captured here by her daughter, Venetia Archer.

Mas de Berard - the Archer's home in St. Remy de Provence (painted by Anne Harwell)

Vicki Archer's lush book, My French Life

Today, I'd like to introduce you to a new friend, the very gracious and talented Vicki Archer. Vicki is a gifted writer who has adopted France as her home and authored the book,"My French Life," which I'm sure many of you are familiar with, as it seems to pop up everywhere these days! She also happens to be a great addition to the blogging community. I had the pleasure of "meeting" her when she left a comment on Annechovie. She is a fascinating person with an exceptionally interesting life, having transplanted from her native Australia with her family to share her time between her home in London and the seventeenth century farmhouse and olive grove that she and her husband bought and restored in Provence, France. I know you will enjoy getting to know a little about what makes her tick and be sure to check out her gorgeous book,"My French Life", with wonderful text lushly illustrated by Carla Coulson's photos. Keep your eye out for her new release focusing on lifestyle and decorating (two of my favorite subjects!) expected in late 2009.

3 words you'd use to describe yourself
Creative, energetic and not too serious I hope! ( sorry 8 words)
Where were you born? I was born in Hobart, Australia but lived all my life in Sydney until 9 years ago when I moved to Europe.

Photo - Carla Coulson
What do you love most about life in France?
Where do I begin? My book, ‘My French Life’ is almost an ode to my love affair with France! I live in the countryside in France so I like very much the relaxed and slow pace of life that living on a farm entails. France is a country where ambience permeates daily life in every way and so making and living a life in France stimulates all the senses. Life in France is all about the tastes, the smells, the sounds, the feelings and the visuals and that is one of the reasons why I have started my blog, French Essence, to try and keep a record of those sentiments. For example, I love the French way of decorating - the grandeur and glamour that is Paris and the Cote-Sud relaxed style that is so a part of Provence now. I love that family is so important in France and that mealtimes are a cause for companionship and celebration, not just a means to satisfy hunger. The blog is my way of sharing this ambience.

Photo- Carla Coulson
Are you married? Children? Pets?
I am married to David (child bride and all that) and have been for nearly 26 years. We have three children, Emily who is 23, Venetia who is 20 and Paddy who is 19. I have two dogs in France – Nellie and Charlie. I would love another dog in London but I travel too frequently and so it would be impossible.

Photo - Carla Coulson
What did you want to be when you were a kid?
Rock and Roll star! (so sad and misguided, as I have the worst voice imaginable)

Photo - Carla Coulson
What do you wear when you work?
Jeans and a tee-shirt/sweater on a good day, tracksuit pants when nobody is looking.
What's your favorite color?
I can barely admit to this, but my favourite colour is pink and has been forever.

Photo - Carla Coulson
Do you have a motto?
Yes, I have a couple. Never put off until tomorrow what you can do today and never let the sun go down on an argument. Old fashioned ideas but with very beneficial outcomes.

Photo - Carla Coulson
What are some of your favorite things or things that are essential to your success/well-being as a person and writer?
I am very much a home body and I don’t really like being away from home for too long, so my favourite things or those things that are essential to myself as a person and as a writer are those that make up the routine of my daily life – my garden, my olives and my house and these are the things that inspire me to write. My favourite possessions are those that I have collected over the years or gifts that have been given to me by my friends and family. I am a great collector (that could read hoarder) and tend to accumulate bits and pieces wherever I am. A couple of years ago I was travelling in Beijing with David and we visited an ‘antiques’ emporium/market. As we wandered around we came across an old cultural poster of Mao that had been shoved in a dark corner – it was unusual in that it was oil paint on canvas as opposed to the normal paper posters that were widely manufactured at that time. Somehow we managed to buy it and remarkably get it back to France. My local painter stretched it onto a frame and hung it for me in our dining room where it is always a point for vocal conversation – this is one of my favourite things today because whenever I look at Mao I remember our wonderful trip and the very strange likelihood that a Chinese cultural poster would be hung in our farm in southern France. I cannot live without my blackberry or my apple computer either! P.S Also major shoe junkie.

Photo - Carla Coulson
What are the most challenging things for you about writing?
The most challenging thing for me about writing is not the discipline, the idea that I have a deadline and that I must work so many hours each day to make it, but it is the creation of a good sentence and a sentence that allows my readers to feel and understand my sentiments and to be there with me on the page. I have such respect for great and important writers as I have learned that the search for the appropriate word or phrase is eternal. When I read a sentence or even an adjective that can transport me I am truly in awe. The truth about good writers is that they must be superb observers of life.
What's your pet peeve?
Judgmental people.

Photo - Carla Coulson
Where do you live and work?
I live half the year in London and half the year in Saint Remy de Provence in southern France and I work wherever I am.

Photo - Carla Coulson
Favorite food?
Spicy would be my pick – whenever I go home to Sydney I tell my friends I only want to eat very hot Thai food.
Favorite music?
Music – so many favourites, but funnily enough right now I am listening to Carla Bruni’s new album (probably because she married the French President and everybody is talking about her CD!)

Photo - Carla Coulson
Any more books in the works?
I am working on a new book with photographer Carla Coulson for release at the end of 2009 so we are racing madly towards our deadline. Again published by Penguin and it will be along similar lines to, ‘My French Life’ in that it is a combination of photographs and text, but it concentrates very much on interiors, home making and the ambient side of life in France.

Thank you so much, Vicki, for so graciously sharing more about yourself with us. You can keep up with Vicki by subscribing to her delightful blog, French Essence and find her charming book, My French Life, through Amazon and major booksellers everywhere.