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Another Parisian romance

BY MARISA WAY | FEBRUARY 11, 2010 7:30 AM

Laura Willis/The Daily Iowan
Author Lucy Silag sits in her Iowa City home on Wednesday. Inspired while living in Paris for a year, she based her new book, Wanderlust, on the idea of students studying abroad in France.
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Lucy Silag’s novels have given her plenty of reasons to celebrate.

The Iowa Writers’ Workshop student sold the movie rights to make her first novel, Beautiful Americans. The third novel in the series will be released in August. Silag will read from the second novel in the series, Wanderlust, at 7 p.m. today in Prairie Lights Books, 15 S. Dubuque St.

“This is the first [reading] I’ll do for Wanderlust,” she said. “It’s also the only one I’ve ever done in Iowa City, so I’m super excited about it.”

Her inspiration for the series was heavily influenced by her studying abroad in Germany and Hungary, as well as various traveling opportunities in high school. The author was captivated by the social dynamic and varying cultures she found.

Although she never studied abroad in France, Silag visited there a handful of times before she started working on her novels. She thought it would be the perfect setting for her series.

“I thought France would be a more romantic setting, and one that readers could more easily relate to,” she said. “And, of course, Paris is one of the most beautiful cities in the world.”

In order to become better acquainted with French culture, she spent a significant amount of time researching in France. When she was writing the first book in the series, she took what she called a research trip to Paris. Around the same time she was applying at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, she made the decision to submerge herself in the culture, quitting her job to live in Paris for a few months at a time.

“So I got to just live over there, and take French classes, and spend a lot of time writing,” she said. “So that was how I got to know Paris well enough to really write these books.”

Silag was admitted into the Iowa Writers’ Workshop last spring, and she said the experience has affected her writing for the better.

“Everyone there takes writing very seriously,” she said. “Hearing a lot of people’s perspectives on my writing has been really interesting for me, and I have to say it’s been really inspiring. I think my next book, because of that, will be a little bit more serious.”

Samantha Chang, Silag’s instructor in her fiction workshop, understands why Silag’s books have been met with praise thus far.

“I think her fiction has great appeal,” wrote Chang in an e-mail to The Daily Iowan. “She has a gift for knowing what is interesting and for creating vivid and compelling motivations for her characters. I’m delighted by the scope and ambition of her approach.”

Silag, who teaches a Rhetoric II course at the university, said she invited her students and other friends in the Iowa City area to the reading.

“I’m going to make a bunch of French-themed sweets to have at the reading,” she said. “So I hope it will feel like a party — and a celebration.”


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