The short answer is because I wanted a big city I knew well enough to set an entire (hopefully long-running) serial in. The long answer may turn into a love letter to Paris. 😉 I ♥ Paris and when I lived in Belgium it was only a three-hour drive away (and we had easy access to some digs), so we drove to Paris once every two months, which easily makes it the city I visited most in my life.
If a city is going to play a large part in a story, I need to have been there. Not because I want to indulge in descriptions, but because I appreciate knowing a bit of its geography, the distance between certain places and the general vibe. In the background, it helps me that I can actually picture where my characters are going. I know many authors can pull this off with Google Maps and internet research, but for someone with zero sense of orientation (i.e. someone like me), it’s important to have been there and to have walked the streets myself.
Additionally, no city is more ‘our city’ (our = my wife’s and mine) than Paris. To me, Paris equals romance. When I met my wife (a long, long time ago) I was a twenty-two year old who’d barely crossed the Belgian country borders. The first trip we took together was to Paris. We weren’t an item yet (she was still playing hard to get), but something was definitely blooming and I vividly remember staying up late, talking and joking until deep into the night, the guy who hit on her when we queued for the ferris wheel at the Place de la Concorde… (We officially got together a few weeks later, because no one can resist the romance of Paris. ;-0)
When writing this, I’m about to start on the last act of Episode Three and it has become very clear to me that French Kissing is deeply romantic. It’s all about love, the quest for it, losing it, fighting for it, not understanding it, the pain of it. ‘My ladies’ (that’s how I call them now) suffer for love, but they also revel in it (and have hot first-time, make-up and break-up sex because of it) and they desperately crave it, too. Because of all of this love, I couldn’t imagine any other city being the backdrop for my dramatic lesbian romance opus.
And now all I want to do is go back to Paris myself (but a thirteen-hour flight is a bit more of an obstacle than a three-hour drive.) So, in the end, I’m glad I at least get to write about it (and when I go home for my bi-annual family visit in March, I will, for the sake of research, make a small detour.)
P.S. ARCs of French Kissing: Episode Two will be available in a few days. E-mail me (harperbliss at gmail dot com) if you want one in return for an honest review.