Finding inspiration in Paris

We are thrilled to host Ashley Weaver, author of the Amory Ames mysteries. When she’s not writing, Ashley is the Technical Services Coordinator for the Allen Parish Libraries in Louisiana. The Miss Demeanors have written several posts about our love of libraries and Ashley has worked in one since she was 14; first as a page and then a clerk before finally obtaining her MLIS from Louisiana State University.  Now, I’ll turn it over to Ashley to talk about her latest book!  Ashley Weaver What inspired your book? It’s a question authors often get asked, but I find it’s not always an easy one to answer. For me, story ideas sometimes come out of the blue, with no recognizable links to any one influence. Other times, they come together in little pieces as I write, like a puzzle being slowly assembled. However, my newest book, The Essence of Malice, combines two specific inspirations, both with roots in things I have loved since childhood: Paris and perfume.    I have always been enamored with Paris. Growing up, I had a giant poster of the Eiffel Tower hanging above my bed, and I dreamed of one day taking a trip to the City of Lights. I would check out audiocassette tapes from the library on learning French and would practice at home. I read books on the history of France and perused travel guides, plotting future adventures. My dream of visiting Paris finally came true a few years ago when I went with a group of friends for Christmas. We rented a little apartment two blocks from the Louvre and had the time of our lives exploring the city, eating delicious food, and trying out a few phrases in the French language. (I never did become fluent, for all those audiocassettes, but I’m still working on it!)  The trip was just as magical as I had always imagined it would be, and, when I began plotting my fourth Amory Ames mystery, I knew that it was time for Amory and her husband Milo to take a trip to Paris as well. Paris in the 1930s was a bit different than the Paris of today, of course, and Amory and Milo don’t visit the tourist hotspots that my friends and I did. But the glamour and sophistication of the city stands eternal and was a source of great inspiration.  Photos of Eiffel Tower, then and now One lingering remnant of that trip is my affection for the perfume J’Adore by Dior. My parents had bought me a bottle that Christmas, and I brought it with me, spraying it on before days spent wandering Parisian streets. Now, whenever I smell the scent, it reminds me of that trip. But Paris was not the beginning of my love of perfume. I was fascinated with fragrance from a young age. I remember, as a small child, loving to look at the perfume bottles on my grandmother’s dresser when we would go to visit her. There was one shaped like an elegant lady that always captured my imagination, and it was fun to open the bottles and dab on the different scents. I loved my mother’s perfume, too, and the whiff of it will bring back happy childhood memories to this day.   I even took my own foray into the world of perfumery. When I was about six or seven, my cousin and I decided that we would make homemade perfume for our mothers. We found some little bottles and filled them with water and rose petals, sure that this was precisely the way real perfume was made. Of course, we had missed a few essential ingredients. In no time at all, the waterlogged rose petals decomposed and our “perfume” began to smell horrible. My mom kept it and pretended to love it, but that was the last time I tried to make perfume – at least until I wrote The Essence of Malice. Essence of Malice cover In the book, Amory and Milo investigate the suspicious death of a famous parfumier. To form a connection with the family, Amory commissions them to make a custom perfume. I greatly enjoyed researching the art of perfumery and concocting Amory’s new fragrance, and I couldn’t resist including a slightly altered version of my failed childhood attempt at creating perfume, the first time I have adapted a personal story into one of my mysteries! Its origins in my longtime love for the magic of Paris and perfume made The Essence of Malice an especially fun book to write. The story allowed me to travel back to Paris, this time with an additional dash of intrigue and danger. It also gave me the opportunity, at least in words, to try my hand at creating a perfume once more – this time one that doesn’t smell like rotten rose petals! https://www.ashley-weaver.comFacebook at AuthorAshleyWeaverTwitter @AshleyCWeaver

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