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Cathy Hapka has written more than 100 books for children and young adults. At home on her small farm in Chester County, Pennsylvania, she enjoys reading and writing, horseback riding, animals of all kinds, gardening, and music.
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Name: Catherine Hapka
Hometown: Kennett Square, PA
Countries you have visited: England, Ireland, Scotland, France, Spain, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, Monaco, Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Mexico, Canada
Country you wrote about: France
Destination you would most like to visit: Iceland, Scandinavia, Morocco
What was your favorite place to visit in Paris? Like Nicole, I enjoyed the crazy fountain at the Georges Pompidou center, and I enjoyed getting a close-up view of the gargoyles at Notre Dame, just like Nicole and Luc do in the book. One of the most beautiful sights in Paris for me was the stained glass at the cathedral of Sainte Chapelle. I also loved the Musee D’Orsay, and just walking around the neighborhoods. And it’s always cool to see the really iconic sights in person, such as the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe.
What was your favorite food? Crepes, of course! They were delicious, easy to find, and—most important for a poor college graduate—cheap!
What was your favorite souvenir? Photos of myself and my friends at all the famous landmarks.
What was your funniest experience? My friends and I got interviewed by a French TV reporter while walking down the street in Paris. There was a national election going on at the time, and they wanted to get input from tourists. However, only one of us spoke adequate French (not me!) so he answered for all of us.
Have you traveled anywhere “off the beaten path”? If so, what brought you there? I wouldn’t call anywhere I’ve been abroad “off the beaten path,” but I do like to seek out some of the weirder tourist sites. For instance, a small pet cemetery in Edinburgh Castle in Scotland, a place called Sheep World in New Zealand, or the Pitch Lake in Trinidad (a huge lake of naturally-occurring asphalt).
Is your main character like you in any way? Are your characters based on anyone in your “real” life? Nicole is like me in that I didn’t speak French when I got to Paris, either! Unlike her, unfortunately, I didn’t manage to pick up more than a few words and phrases. Other than that, she’s pretty different from me. That’s one of the things I like about writing—trying to see the world through other people’s eyes. I don’t usually base characters entirely on people I know in real life, but they sometimes turn out to be a composite of various people.
Is there anything else you’d like to tell readers? Travel as much as you can—it’s the only way to REALLY learn about the rest of the world.
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