------ Stephen Clarke
I grew up in Bournemouth (the Bondi Beach of England), where I played bass in some of the worst rock bands in musical history before leaving town to study French and German at Oxford.
After university, I got a series of high-powered jobs in the wine industry (grape picking), tertiary sector (washing up in a German hotel), and in international diplomacy (teaching English to bored French businessmen).
Meanwhile I started writing novels, all of which remained unpublished due to a vast – and never before revealed – conspiracy in the global publishing industry.
I then moved to Glasgow, where I was hired to put rude words into French dictionaries - check out my work on "motherf*cker" in the Collins Robert dictionary. As soon as I heard about the possibility of a French 35-hour week, I moved to Paris and got a job as a journalist on an English-language magazine.
I kept writing fiction, and, despite fierce opposition from my bank manager, finally decided to self-publish Beam Me Up, Who Killed Beano? and A Year in the Merde via my own (fictional) company, redgaragebooks.com.
I began trying to sell A Year ... first, as I was living in Paris, and after three months of humping copies around the streets in a shopping trolley, I sold the book. Not only to bookshops, but also to a major publisher who promised me that they had their own delivery service so I would not have to do any more heavy lifting. Well, in fact it was my newly-found agent, Susanna Lea, who landed the major publisher. And since she was looking to the future while I was still focussing on my lower back, she also secured a deal to write more Paul West adventures.
I have since written the sequel, Merde Actually, the sequel to the sequel, Merde Happens, the sequel to the etc etc, a spoof thriller called Dial M for Merde, as well as Talk to the Snail, my little book that tries to describe French society according to ten “commandments” like “thou shalt not love thy neighbour”, “thou shalt be wrong” and “thou shalt not get served” . My latest offering, a non-fiction tome called 1000 Years of Annoying the French, will be out in March 2010. Oh, and I still play bass if there are any really bad rock bands out there.
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Languedoc & Provence Sun N°53 (Autumn 2014)
Well, I think that’s it. The sun cream has ﬁnally given its last breath, my loyal ﬂip-ﬂops have ended up in the recycling bin and the children are off to school. I guess we are back to normal life and believe it or not, it is time to think about… Christmas! Oh noooo I’ll hear you scream, but as we are now quarterly, this issue will cover October, November and December – three months packed with ideas of things to do, visit, drink and eat.
We are always happy to welcome new contributors, but we are truly spoilt this time. Rachel Baker, journalist, food writer and now proud inhabitant of Apt, has joined the ranks (p10 & 32), and so has author Janice Macdonald (p12), who will follow for the next 12 months the inside life of a wine domain for us. We also welcome on board Richard Simpson-Birks (p15). And I’m sure you will carry on enjoying our regular contributors Bernice Clark (p8), Janice Lert (p6), Camille Vourc'h (p29) and Caren Trafford (p22), who has kindly donated books for our fantastic kids drawing competition (p28).
Enjoy the falling leaves, the chestnuts, the early nights by the ﬁre with a good book, and when you feel ready to think about it, have a lovely Christmas...
Carole Rommene, Editor