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France inspires expat authors

Moving to France gives many budding writers the time and freedom to fulfil their literary ambitions

MELANIE COMLEY left her job as a store manager in Worcester and moved to Hauteville-la-Guichard in the Manche nine years ago, despite never having set foot in the country before. She renovated a property and then began to follow her dream of becoming a writer.

After completing a creative writing course, she penned a romance which was a near-miss with Mills and Boon. Then she decided to turn her hand to crime writing. Impeding Justice, which she describes “a gritty crime novel” set in London, was first published as an Amazon Kindle e-book and has now made it into print. She is working on a sequel, which is set in France. Find out more at

CONNER MIDDELMANN-WHITNEY was diagnosed with cervical cancer 10 years ago. After successfully beating the disease, she quit her job as a journalist on the Financial Times in London and trained as a nutritionist.

However, it was not until she moved to rural France, near Bretx in the Haute-Garonne, that she found the time and the inspiration to write Zest for Life, a 120-page cancer prevention cookbook, based on medical research and with recipes inspired by the southern French diet.

“Living in rural France, with its year-round supply of delicious and nutritious food, has made healthy eating – and writing the book – easier,” she says. “I buy most of my vegetables from a farmer or at a market. Meat comes from local
organic farms, health-food shops or a local butcher.”

Ms Middelmann-Whitney is donating a quarter of the proceeds from her book to Maggie’s, a UK charity that runs cancer support centres.

GLYN POPE found that his new life in France offered the inspiration he needed to write the 90,000 words for his debut novel, even though the story itself is based around a housing estate in post-war Leicester.

Mr Pope worked as a teacher in Devon before moving to Saint-Clementin in the Deux-Sèvres with his wife, Jill, in 2007. His first book, The Doctor, the Plutocrat and the Mendacious Minister, tells the story of a young doctor, back from the war, who works miracles turning around a deprived estate but, in doing so, unravels the delicate balance between rich and poor, and the struggling economy still reliant on rationing and the black market.

“Living in France has meant that I’ve been able to devote myself full-time to writing, and I’ve produced a novel that I’m proud of,” Mr Pope says.

His publisher, Nadine Laman, adds: “Glyn’s novel is a tremendous story and deserves a wide readership.”

Mr Pope’s novel is available as a download for the Amazon Kindle, Sony e-reader and Apple iPad. It can also be ordered from or from the author directly. Send an email to

Artistic inspiration

THE OWNERS of a rural guest house in the Lot who organise painting breaks say demand from English-speakers seeking artistic inspiration from France has exceeded all their expectations.

Mike and Susie Griffith run weeklong “art holidays” and workshops at Le Perchoir des Paons, an old stone farmhouse near Cazals with views over the Lot countryside.

Mr Griffith says: “We have guests from all over the world. They like the peaceful French charm and the hours of undisturbed creativity.”

He said the courses, now in their seventh year, were attracting beginners and established painters alike, and one of the weeks this summer is already fully booked. Guests enjoy visits to the Dordogne and Lot rivers, Cahors, Sarlat and medieval villages and chateaux.

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