Whitney Cubbison- Navigating Love and Life

The Expat Experience, Cultural Challenges, and Crafting Compelling Fiction in Paris

Whitney Cubbison discusses her novel Will There Be Wine?, inspired by her expat dating experiences in Paris, and shares insights into character development, cultural challenges, and balancing humour with serious themes.

Whitney Cubbison’s journey as a storyteller is as captivating as the tales she weaves. Raised in the diverse cultural landscapes of Texas and California, her passion for the French language and culture took root during her studies at UCLA, eventually leading her to an accomplished career that spanned the dynamic tech scene of San Francisco and a significant tenure at Microsoft’s Paris office. Here, Whitney excelled in various roles, from PR and communications to executive speechwriting and social media strategy.

In 2022, Whitney embraced a new chapter in her life, becoming a French citizen and leaving her corporate career to pursue her lifelong dream of writing. This leap of faith resulted in her debut novel, Will There Be Wine?, a story that mirrors her own experiences as an expatriate divorcée navigating the intricacies of Parisian dating. Her protagonist, Austen Keller, embarks on a humorous and heartfelt journey, reflective of Whitney’s own adventures and insights.

In our interview, Whitney shares the inspirations behind her characters and the cultural challenges woven into Austen’s story. She also opens up about the transition from concise corporate writing to the richly detailed world of novel writing, a transformation guided by her editors, Rozi Doci and Holly Ingraham. Beyond her professional accomplishments, Whitney’s personal experiences and resilience shine through, offering readers a genuine exploration of identity, love, and the importance of staying true to oneself. Her upcoming sequel, Will There Be Love?, promises to continue this exploration with depth and wit, inviting readers to join Austen Keller on her ongoing journey of self-discovery and romance.

What inspired you to write Will There Be Wine? and how much of Austen Keller’s story is based on personal experience?

I like to say that Austen’s story was “deeply inspired by real events.” Truthfully, I went on so many terrible dates that my friends repeatedly insisted I should write a book. One day, I decided to believe them, and so it began! There’s a decent chunk of fiction in there to make the story stick together, but much was pulled from my own lived experience.

How did you develop the various memorable characters, like Pierre the Mansplainer and Guillaume of the Gym Shorts? Are they inspired by real people?

Each of the blog entries from Austen’s blog is, I’m sad to admit, based on a real date that I went on. Of course, all the names and identifying details were changed, and some stories were embellished slightly, but those blogs were the truest of all the content in an otherwise fictional novel.

Can you discuss the cultural challenges Austen faces in the dating scene and how you incorporated these into her journey?

Dating always has its challenges, but dating cross-culturally introduces a new set of variables, as you’re likely to have fewer shared cultural references and the norms of dating are different from one country to the next. Austen was out of her depth when she first entered the French dating scene, so I made sure to show some of those curiosities manifesting early in her story, such as being stunned to discover, the morning after her first night spent with a French man, that he immediately considered them to be a couple. This assumption would never have been made in similar circumstances in the United States!

What was the most difficult part of writing this novel, and how did you overcome it?

In my pre-author life, I worked for Microsoft in communications where one writing skill that made me good at my job was an ability to synthesize the complex into something that anyone can understand in two minutes, two soundbites, or less. That skill served me very badly when writing a novel, so I’d say the biggest challenge was unlearning my tech PR writing habits to write in a way that could bring Austen’s world to life on the page and bring the reader on an emotional journey alongside her. I couldn’t have done it without the help of my brilliant editors, Rozi Doci and Holly Ingraham, who I thank in my acknowledgements for “taking what I vomited out onto the page and teaching me how to turn it into a novel.”

How do you balance humor and serious themes in your writing, particularly in Austen’s story of self-discovery and resilience?

When I first started writing this book, I thought it would be a bit of slapstick, poking fun at the myriad challenges of dating later in life and in another culture. However, the writing process became somewhat therapeutic for me, re-evaluating some of my own experiences and wanting to pass along some wisdom from the harder lessons learned. 

All good characters in fiction grow over the course of the story’s narrative arc, so it was important to me that Austen learn about herself but also about the value of female friendship in both the good times and the bad. Life’s hardships help us fully appreciate all the victories – big and small. A life well lived (whether real or fictional) must have balance, so I made sure to give that to Austen, mostly via the wisdom and love of her girlfriends.

What message or takeaway do you hope readers will gain from Will There Be Wine?

Be true to yourself and honest about what you want and need in your relationships. Only then will the right people – whether friends or lovers – find you. And your life will be better for it.  

Verified by MonsterInsights