Friday, May 10, 2024

Q&A with Michelle Paris




Michelle Paris is the author of the new novel Eat Dessert First. She also has written the novel New Normal. She lives in Maryland.


Q: What inspired you to write Eat Dessert First, and how did you create your character Abbey? 


A: I believe that romantic heroines should come in all shapes and sizes, so, I wanted to write a book where the main character was plus-sized. The original title of the manuscript was The Best Revenge, because I always wanted the main character to “get the hot guy.”


I also wanted readers to see how painful body shaming can be and create a character that didn’t lose weight to become happy in the end.


The character’s name, Abbey, came after I decided her parents were non-conventional hippie-types and huge Beatles fans. The music theme that plays throughout the book actually came in late the manuscript drafting process.


I like to look back at original outlines and then see what life the story takes on. It’s always different than what I originally planned.


Q: In our previous Q&A, you said of Eat Dessert First, “It’s about an overweight baker learning that self-love is more important than romantic love.” Can you say more about that?  


A: Personally, I struggled with body-image most of my life. And I learned late in life that the valuable lesson that no one judged me more than I judged myself.


Because of my own experience, I thought it would be important to write story about a character who is self-conscious about her weight and the journey she takes to self-acceptance.


In Eat Dessert First, Caroline, Abbey’s boss, is constantly hitting home this message because Caroline knows too well how crippling low self-esteem can be. Caroline is an older role model and the maternal support that Abbey craves and needs.


Caroline is a composite of a few of my friends who refused to allow other people’s judgement impact the way they felt about themselves. 


Q: Are you a baker yourself, and what are your favorite recipes?


A: I actually started taking baking lessons after completing Eat Dessert First. My favorite thing to bake is macarons. They are pretty daunting because so many things can go wrong. I’d say of the dozen times I’ve made them, I’ve only got them perfect maybe once. But that doesn’t stop me from giving them as gifts to my friends.


Q: The novel is set in Ellicott City, Maryland, and in Philadelphia. How important is setting to you in your writing?


A: I love Main Street in Ellicott City, Maryland, because it’s got a rich history, and it is so resilient. I can remember going there as a kid and thinking, "Wow, this is such a cool place." It still has that charming quaint appeal that I remember from my youth. It lends itself perfectly for a sweet story.


I chose Philadelphia because I wanted Abbey to have a long-distance romance, and Philadelphia is far, but not too far, and there’s good Amtrak service to and from.


Q: What are you working on now?


A: I’m about 1/3 the way through my next book, called Alex in Onederland. Onederland is what Weight Watchers call when their weight reaches a magical place below 200 pounds.


In this book, Alex exudes confidence and is very happy in her skin. She’s got an over-the-top personality and really doesn’t care what people think. I want to continue to create heroines that are not stereotypical and continue the theme of what’s on the inside matters the most.


Q: Anything else we should know?


A: Thank you so much for this opportunity. If you’d like to learn more about me, please visit


--Interview with Deborah Kalb. Here's a previous Q&A with Michelle Paris.

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