The Paris Project by Donna Gephart

Hello, Donna Gephart! Welcome back to Watch. Connect. Read.! I always love when you drop by to answer my questions and finish my sentences. What have you been up to since the last time you visited on April 2, 2018?

Donna Gephart: Holy guacamole, so much has happened since last time I visited. Let’s see . . . 

1. My husband changed jobs after 23 years.

2. We sold our home in South Florida after 17+ years.

3. And we moved to the Philadelphia area after 21 lovely years in South Florida. (Our dog, Benji, has had to figure out what snow is!)

Somehow during all those changes, I researched, wrote and revised The Paris Project, which I’m really proud of. This novel has the most charming cover and presents weighty topics, like the shame and challenges associated with having a parent behind bars. I’m proud of the LGBTQ representation in the book, too.

Cleveland Rosebud Potts came to me in a wild burst of inspiration one day and feels like a gift. I love the characters and relationships in this book, like Cleveland’s closeness with her sister, Georgia, and her steadfast friendship with Declan Maguire.

The talented book designer, Lizzy Bromley, and brilliant artist, Bijou Karman, created a cover that I fell madly in love with. (Wait till you see the adorable pooch on the back cover!) The cover captures Cleveland’s longing for the culture of Paris while showing the reality of her life, living in a trailer home in a tiny Florida town. 

Wow! You have been busy! So many changes! Thank you for sharing The Paris Project’s cover. What are three things Cleveland Rosebud Potts would want us to know about her? 

1. I’m going to call my dog Miss Genevieve , even though he’s a boy and his real name is Roscoe, thank you very much. (Miss Clavel would understand.)

2. I wish people would stop looking down on my mom, my sister and me because my dad is in jail.

3. Pinkie toes are highly overrated.

Please finish these sentence starters:

Sassafras, Florida can be summed up by this sentence from the novel: I stared out the open window, felt humid wind blow into my face, and watched the town of Sassafras whiz by, with its boarded-up businesses, tiny churches, and weathered billboards for guns and God.

I hope The Paris Project makes the invisible problem of mass incarceration more visible and highlights how when a person is incarcerated, it deeply affects the whole family and wider community.

Story is a bridge between two hearts that allows people to feel more understood, more connected and less alone in the world. 

Look for The Paris Project on October 8, 2019. 

Cleveland Rosebud Potts has a plan. If she can check off the six items on her très important Paris Project List she will make it out of the small-minded and scorching town of Sassafras, Florida, to a rich and cultured life at The American School of Paris.

Unfortunately, everything seems to conspire against Cleveland reaching her goal.

Cleveland is ashamed of her father and angry that her mother and sister are never around because they have to work extra shifts to help out the family. Her Eiffel Tower tin has zero funds. And to top it all off, Cleveland’s best friend Jenna Finch has decided she’s too fancy for her and her neighbor Declan seems to be hiding something.

As Cleveland puts her talents to the test, she must learn how to forgive family for their faults, appreciate friends for exactly who they are, and bloom where she’s planted—even if that’s in a tiny town in central Florida that doesn’t even have a French restaurant. C’èst la vie!


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