Tuesday, June 11, 2024

Q&A with Kimberly Belle





Kimberly Belle is the author of the new novel The Paris Widow. Her other books include the novel The Marriage Lie. She lives in Atlanta and in Amsterdam.


Q: What inspired you to write The Paris Widow, and how did you create your character Stella?


A: This is probably the fourth or fifth story I’ve pitched that takes place in Europe—my home for half the year—and I’m thrilled to say I finally landed on one that stuck.


Initially, though, this story was set in Amsterdam—not Paris—a city I know and love well. My editor was sold on the premise, but she suggested Paris might be more of a draw, and I was happy to oblige. Who doesn’t love Paris? Plus, that meant that I needed to visit, for “research.”


As for Stella, there’s a lot of her in me. We share a wicked wanderlust and a love of exploring new and exciting places, especially with the person we love the most. She’s spunky and determined and was a lot of fun to write.


Q: How would you describe the relationship between Stella and her husband, Adam?


A: Adam was a rebound relationship that quickly turned into more, and Stella will soon discover that some of the reasons she chose him—that he was down-to-earth, that he was grounded and reliable and “normal”—aren’t entirely true. Adam is keeping some big secrets from Stella, but his feelings for her are real. Their love for each other definitely drives the story.

Q: Did you need to do any research to write the novel, and if so, did you learn anything that especially surprised you?


A: I talk a little about my research in the author’s note at the back of the book, but I was shocked to discover the breadth of the blood antiquities trade.


In virtually every country of the world – but especially in war-torn countries – thieves are strip-mining our past. Pillaging temples and churches and museums for their archaeological artifacts, smuggling the goods over international borders, and selling them to the highest bidder. Often, that bidder is a respected gallery or museum, and because they’re legit, too many people turn a blind eye.


There are real-life heroes out there working to stop it—and I talk more about this, too, in my author’s note—but like most illegal activities, there’s too much money involved. Some experts say the blood antiquities trade is booming to the tune of $8 billion per year; others say that number is too low. Either way, it’s horrifying.


Q: The author Alex Finlay said of the novel, “You’ll hold your breath as Stella Knox faces the dangers of the dark world of blood antiquities in her search for the truth about what really happened to her husband and whether her marriage and life were all a facade.” What do you think of that description?


A: I’m a huge Alex Finlay fan, so it was a dream to get a blurb from him, and I think it encapsulates the story perfectly. I especially loved his “MAGNIFIQUE!” quote, which made it onto the front cover.


Q: What are you working on now?


A: I’m currently in edits for my 2025 book—as yet untitled—about two American expats whose lives intersect after one of them wakes to find her date murdered on the floor of the shower. And this one is set in my part-time hometown of Amsterdam!


Q: Anything else we should know?


A: I’ll be doing some traveling for The Paris Widow – Atlanta, NYC, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Iowa—and would love for folks to come say hi! Dates and details are at https://www.kimberlybellebooks.com/events.


--Interview with Deborah Kalb. Here's a previous Q&A with Kimberly Belle. 

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