Natasha Lester on Tiffany watches, French resistance fighters, and New York bestseller lists
I’ve long been a huge fan of Natasha Lester’s sweeping historical novels and was delighted to read an early copy of her 2021 release, The Riviera House. Out this week with Hachette, it’s another cleverly crafted story set in war-torn France. The plot follows French resistance fighter, Eliane as she tries to protect famous artworks from the Nazis. Her plight is daring and highly dangerous, with each scene dancing between duty, definace, love and loyalty. The alternating present-day timeline was equally gripping, with vintage clothes trader, Remy and fashion photographer Adam adding a glamourous edge to the story, as well as a heady combination of romance and grief.
As well as being a skilled storyteller, Natasha is also an engaging teacher. I was thrilled to attend her one-day workshop at the 2019 Romance Writers Australia conference and still refer back to my notes from her presentation.
Five fast minutes with Natasha Lester
Do you have a good luck charm or a special token that sits on your desk/in your office?
I keep in pride of place a congratulations card my publisher sent me when I hit the New York Times bestseller list. I never imagined that a book I wrote would make that list so it reminds me to go after seemingly impossible dreams – and it inspires me to keep going.
Favourite exercise to counteract all the hours sitting at the keyboard?
I’m a runner, which gets the blood pumping and gives my subconscious a chance to work out any knotty plot issues. In fact I come up with a lot of ideas for scenes, dialogue and character when I’m out pounding the pavement. I always run by the water for extra inspiration.
What’s your go-to weekday dinner dish?
I am NOT a domestic goddess in the kitchen so I tend to keep things pretty simple - soup in winter, any kind of salad in summer. Also - I hate cooking! But I do like eating.
Which career would you choose if money wasn’t a factor and writing wasn’t an option?
I love vintage fashion and fashion illustration and I’ve managed to base several of my books around these passions. For The Paris Secret, I spent time with a fashion conservator examining a gorgeous vintage Dior gown and it struck me as being a wonderful job. Even better if I got to keep the Dior!
Chocolate, potato chips or cheese?
Being a Francophile, I have to say cheese. My favourite is Fromager d’Affinois Bleu – a double cream cheese with a mild ‘blue’ flavour.
Have you done anything special with any of your advances?
I bought a Tiffany watch when I hit the New York “Times” bestseller list (get it?!) – so when I check the time, I’m reminded of what a fabulous ride this writing life has been and continues to be.
Spot where you seem to get the best bursts of inspiration?
The lightning bolts usually come at the most inconvenient time when I’m nowhere near a computer – but somehow connected to water, such as running by the Swan River, washing dishes, or even in the shower!
Worst writing/book-related injury?
All those hours at the desk have left me with a sore back, but I have the best physio – Megan O’ Shea – and she has fixed it! I gave Megan a special mention in the acknowledgements for The Riviera House because I’m so grateful!
Do you have a writing ‘uniform’?
I definitely dress for comfort - Golden Goose sneakers paired with a dress in summer, and jeans in winter.
Aussie novel you’re most looking forward to in 2021?
The author of Burial Rites, Hannah Kent, has a new one coming out in October. She writes incredible historical fiction so I can’t wait for that!
Best one-line sentence from one of your book reviews?
The Daily Telegraph called me “a master storyteller” which is extremely high praise, as well as being a high bar that I aim to meet with each new book.
Share a quirky habit or something readers might be surprised to discover about you.
I eat lunch at about 11.30am each day because I’m up at 6am and always starving before midday!
Where can people find you online?
I love to hear from readers and I’m very active online, so please feel free to get in touch.
The Riviera House
Paris, 1939 While working at the Louvre, Éliane Dufort falls for talented painter Xavier. But when the Nazis occupy the city, Xavier leaves for England and Éliane must send her sisters to the country. Broken-hearted, she finds herself working with the mysterious Rose Valland on a dangerous secret mission for the French Resistance: to record all the priceless national treasures the Germans are stealing.
Present Day Desperate to escape her grief, Remy Lang arrives at a stunning private estate on the French Riviera. While working on her vintage fashion business, she discovers a catalogue of artworks stolen during World War II and is shocked to see a painting that hung on her childhood bedroom wall in Sydney. Who is her family, really? And does the Riviera house hold more secrets than Remy is ready to face?
Lush, engrossing and deeply moving, this is the story of the brave women who worked against the Nazis, told by the international bestselling author of The Paris Secret and The French Photographer. Out now with Hachette.
Meet the author
Natasha Lester is the New York Times bestselling author of The Paris Seamstress, The French Photographer and The Paris Secret, and a former marketing executive for L'Oreal. Her novels have been translated into many different languages and are published all around the world.
When she's not writing, she loves collecting vintage fashion, practising the art of fashion illustration and reading about history. Natasha is a sought-after public speaker and lives with her husband and three children in Perth, Western Australia.