by | Mar 6, 2024 | Extraordinary Guest Bloggers | 4 comments

Once Upon a Villa

By Andrew Kaplan
Once Upon a Villa

By Andrew Kaplan

I actually wrote the first draft of my about-to-be-released new book, Once Upon a Villa, after I hadn’t written anything in a very long time. Years. I wasn’t sure if I still knew how to write. So rather than try to write one of my spy thrillers, where I would have to come up with a plot that would sell and figure out chapter by chapter what comes next, I decided to write a memoir of what in retrospect was an extraordinary, almost magical time in our lives when we lived on the French Riviera. I wouldn’t have to come up with a plot. I would just write down what actually happened, but do it in a way that was fun, so it wouldn’t be boring and episodic. Because it was during that same period on the Riviera that I wrote the spy novel Dragonfire, which became a New York Times bestseller, Once Upon a Villa also became about the challenges and craft of writing a book intended to be a bestselling spy novel, but one with echoes of the Vietnam War. 

From a selling point of view, the pitch we use for Once Upon a Villa stresses the fun, young American ex-pat family living in France part of the story. Here’s how we describe it:

In this wise, warm-hearted, witty, and LOL hilariously funny true account, New York Times bestselling author Andrew Kaplan tells what it’s like when he, his wife, and two-year-old son decided to chuck it all and live the fantasy in a villa by the sea in that extraordinary corner of the world – part international café society, part billionaires’ playground, part provincial France – that is the French Riviera.

Whether it’s matching wits with French bureaucracy, searching for the perfect bouillabaisse, encounters with con men, eccentric ex-pats, and Monaco’s royal family, partying with the international set on Onassis’ yacht, playing chess with a philosophical police chief, or adventures and friendships with the rich and famous and the presumably standoffish French, Once Upon a Villa will transport you to a fascinating and shrewdly-observed world that you will savor like your first-morning bite of pain au chocolate.

So pour yourself a glass of wine, open the book, and Santé!

Note the pitch is all about the fun stuff. Not a word about writing: the highs, the lows, the craft, the challenges, the time I got stuck with a plot-point I couldn’t resolve and thought in terror I might have to abandon a book I had already contractually committed to write, the time I switched narrative voices and wrote something so real I couldn’t stop for three days and it was the best thing I’d ever written. That’s all in Once Upon a Villa too. Along with what it’s like to be a Dad and a husband in perhaps the most glamorous and sophisticated place on Earth. 

I don’t know a writer who at some point hasn’t fantasized about chucking it all and going to some exotic or romantic locale to write. And as Virginia Woolf famously said, in order to write one needed “a place of one’s own.” This book is about people who decided to do just that: live the fantasy. As one character said, “It was like Dorothy landing in Oz. Suddenly, everything was in color.” 

The best part is, it’s all true.

Once Upon a Villa releases March 6 and is available for preorder now. 

Andrew Kaplan

Andrew Kaplan is the author of two award-winning spy book series: Scorpion and Homeland, the original novels of the Homeland television series. His books have topped bestseller charts around the world and have been translated into 22 languages. He began his career as a journalist and war correspondent for the International Herald Tribune in Paris, covering news events in Europe and wars in Africa. He also served in both the US Army and the Israeli Army during the Six Day War and has also served as a technical consultant to leading corporations and U.S. government agencies. His standalone novels include the New York Times bestsellers DragonfireHour of the Assassins about the hunt for the Nazi war criminal Dr. Joseph Mengele–the ‘Angel of Death’ of Auschwitz–and War of the Raven, selected by the American Library Association as “one of the 100 Best Books ever written about World War II.” His most recent novel, Blue Madagascar, a #1 Amazon Release, won the Global eBook and Chanticleer Thriller awards. His screenwriting career includes the James Bond film, Goldeneye.

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  1. Karna Small Bodman

    What an interesting switch from writing thrillers to penning a memoir. From this description, now I can’t wait to read this new book! I wonder if the author and his family speak French?? IN any evet – thanks so much for being our guest blogger here on RWW

    • Tosca Lee

      I loved this book so much–it is definitely a laugh out loud read at points, and at others poignant and introspective. Definitely one of my favorite reads of the last year!

  2. Lisa Black

    Both the book and location sound fabulous! I’ve been to France a couple times but never the Riviera…will have to put that on the bucket list.

  3. Chris Goff

    Sounds like a great book, and inspirational. Maybe just what I’ve been needing. My other though is, hopefully the memoir will be the launching pad for more of your thrillers?!