------ 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Meanwhile I started writing novels, all of which remained unpublished due to a vast – and never before revealed – conspiracy in the global publishing industry.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°54 (Winter 2015)
It’s been 10 years since the ﬁrst issue of Languedoc Sun was published, time does ﬂy! Life has changed a lot for me in that time: I started with two toddlers; I now have stroppy teenagers, which can only mean one thing: that I am an old creep as far as they’re concerned.
I have learnt a lot over the years and I have been lucky to meet some wonderful people along the way, starting with our lovely editors Wendy, Ed, Jacquie, Laura, Elisabeth, Angela & now Carole. Life has changed a lot for them too and I like to think that the magazine may have helped them to experience positive things.
Thanks to Languedoc Sun, I’ve shared a lot of people’s passion and had some fabulous experiences. This magazine gave my life a meaning when I moved back to France. It has opened my eyes and helped me to appreciate this world and the wide variety of people within it. I must admit I feel a little protective of it, as if it were my baby and I know the rest of my wonderful team feels the same. I’d like to express a warm thank you to Carole, Vincent, Griet, Caroline our webmaster and Yvonnick our treasurer for the great work they do, as well as to all our excellent contributors who help us to be what we are. And of course to our advertisers who carry on trusting us.
Each time someone send me an article which I can then share with you all, it’s magic...
Thanks for all your support and lovely letters during these 10 years. I wish you all a Happy New Year.
Long life to Languedoc & Provence Sun.