Whether it was Priscilla who found my Paris photos and poems first, or I who discovered her Paris web magazine and personal writing, I can't remember; the mists of time have taken care of that.
In any case, she's always encouraged me in everything I've done, and cheered me up when I've been down with wild praise for some questionable efforts, so she's certainly one of my best on-line buddies, as it were.
Now it gives me great pleasure to offer you a little chat with a charming lady and an incorrigible creator who always seems to be involved in some new project or other.
Priscilla haswritten two books, been running her own Paris web site for years and is a regular contributor toExpats Radio where she shares her knowledge and vision of the capital, not to mention being a devoted wife and mother of two lively kids!
Priscilla Lalisse-Jespersen: Yes, overall, it does. It's beautiful and ancient, and there are so many things to see and do that I wonder if I'll ever have time to finish my list.
PIYP: Do you have a favourite place in the city?
PL-J: The Right bank. I like my neighborhood. I have the Parc Monceau, rue de Levis market street... I can walk to the Champs Elysées or Place des Ternes in less than half an hour. These are my favorite areas in all of Paris!
PIYP: Your first novel, Stockdale, talked, amongst other things, of prejudice in the States. How does that compare to over here in France in your experience?
PL-J: Hmmmm. It's very different. Racism does exist here in Paris but it's not the same as in the deep south where I'm from (Alabama).
In my first book Stockdale, one of the central issues is biracial relationships and how difficult there were in the 80s. Here in Paris, there are many, many biracial relationships and no one seems to notice. French people don't have a problem with "color" as much as a problem with religion. I'd say when it comes to racism or discrimination, that'd be first on their list rather than skin color.
Of course I could be wrong but I've had this discussion with several American friends and they all seem to agree... but it's a huge topic and question and it's definitely worth delving more into.
PIYP: You've just published 'Next of Kin', which is a short but very moving account of how you lost your dad. What made you write such a personal piece?
PL-J: I felt I had to sort of get it out there and out of ME. It was like therapy in a way. I also thought "Hey, I wonder if this could help someone else? Someone else HAS to be going through this or already has...."
I've since gotten many amazing supportive letters from people who said it DID help them and I'm grateful for that.
PIYP: Your Paris-themed web site,Prissy Mag, presents your take on the city you've adopted. What made you set it up and what are your plans for the future?
PL-J: I loved writing for other Parisian lifestyle zines and then decided it would be great to create my own site, with my own ideas and I've loved it. Prissy Mag was launched in 2007 and I'm excited about it's future.
We're going to partner with more sites, expand our writing team, and try to broaden our topics a bit more. The feedback we get from our readers keeps me going and keeps it going. It's nice to know we are helping and entertaining lots of people.
PIYP: 'Expats Radio' have started broadcasting contributions from you on Paris - what's that's like to be involved in?
PL-J: That's great fun. Peter, the President of Expats Radio is a wonderful person, totally dedicated to what he's doing. It's nice to talk about life in Paris with him and to be on the radio making Prissy Mag available to even more people. It's good to have another medium to do that.
PIYP: You are such an active person, as well as a devoted mother and wife. How do you find time for it all?!
PL-J: It's HARD but I try to get things done whenever I can and wherever I can. Sometimes I write an article on the metro or at the dentist's office (wherever inspiration hits me). The most important thing is family though, and then, when I can write or work on Prissy Mag, then life is truly, truly good.
PIYP: What are your plans for the future - I'm sure there are some!
Photo: Stephen Zezza
PL-J: Write more books, expand Prissy Mag, travel more and enjoy time with my family!
As far as writing books go, I have a bit of promotion to do for Next of Kin, which is actually turning out to be quite hard. It's sometimes too raw to talk about, even though I wrote it! However, I'm determined to hand over a huge check to the American Cancer Center's Hope Lodge in Birmingham Alabama (half of all the book's proceeds are being donated there).
Afterwards, I'm looking forward to getting back to a third and fourth book which I've already started. One's fiction and one's non-fiction and I'm very excited about both. I don't want to give away too much, but I will tell you that the fictional story takes place in Paris! Now, I just have to buckle down and complete one of them instead of going back and forth maybe (ha ha). I love writing-articles, books, letters....so it will be fun, no matter what.
PIYP: And finally, what's your philosophy on life, if you have one?
PL-J: I have many but the first one which comes to mind is this: 'Don't sweat the small things'.
Note: Many thanks to Priscilla for finding the time to answer my questions and her husband Michael for helping supply some of the photos I've needed from him from time to time. See you soon in Paris!