From expat spouse to author: the interview of Marcie Maxfield
Marcie’s experience teaches us that being expat can lead to professional opportunities!
She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, but she has also lived in Japan, Korea, China and Paris!
Can you tell us about your book, Em’s Awful Good fortune?
It is my day view novel, and the plan was to do a memoire as my experience as an expat wife. But the character voice took over and it turned into an auto fiction. It is mostly about Em she is thirsty, funny; she is a feminist and… a little bit broken.
Why did you call your book that way?
The book is about the book is so much about the struggle of being taggled as a lone wife and the loss of identity, the loss of career, community, family… But in fact, the great fortune is that I discovered that I was a writer and it brought me so much joy.
There are many ways to look at the experience and I think that the character of Em sits in resentment a large part of the book. But in reality, she is redefined and reborn by the end.
What trials did you overcome to get there?
I think, the biggest thing was to overcome resentment. Quitting jobs, losing not only my career but my career potential and my potential as a woman as I felt very marginalize, I wanted more than anything to make my marriage work.
In order to do it, as my husband was traveling, I had to keep the family together and travel with them. I think what I discovered was I had to make my life work and it would be alright.
It was really about taking the writing, that I discovered in Paris, seriously. But every time I came back to Los Angeles, I continued to have another career, I worked in the music industry, in marketing, in publishing and I had to give up the writing. I was still defining myself as a career woman.
It was in China that I really started to write. While I was there, I worked on 10 essays that became a play and that switched my perception.
After that I started to work on my book that was originally called “the taggled lone wife”.
So everytime you came home you did another job?
Because one of the things as being an expat is you have to quit your job, but you get some compensation.
From the very beginning I had worked with one woman, that knew how I was working, and she kept hiring me every time I came back. But the jobs became less and less interesting for me, because she kept hiring me at the same level.
I was not moving up. You have to rethink what’s important.
For you, what is an expat partner?
The word is adaptable. I am not sure if it is a strength or witness. If you want to be successful in this, you have to be capable of anything.
In a way they are fearless. I have been in situation where I had no clue, I did not know the language, where I was, and I was not panicking. I learned to go with it.
I had travelled in so many countries that I developed an expat intelligence, but I am not deeply in trench of any culture as somebody that is leaving in that country.
You get an awareness about different cultures and also, I learned to see my own country through other people eyes.
Do you think you work differently due to your experience?
I am not sure it helped me at work. It has helped me at being a better citizen, to be in a country that is becoming more and more multicultural. I am more sensitive at people that do not speak English.
Can you give us an incredible encounter due to your book?
This is not a person that I met. But when I wrote my book, I have been a mentor for kids in detention, teaching writing, the book that we use was “This Is How You Lose Her Book” by Junior Diaz. And the kids liked this book, but I felt in love with it. It opened everything on how I was about to write “Em’s Awful Good Fortune”.
And when I finished writing my book the first letter that I send to advertise it was to Junior Diaz. I told him how connected I was to his writing style.
Would he read my book? He did and gave me the most amazing feedback, I remembered crying. It was such acknowledgement the journey from teaching his book to reaching him out with mine. To have him read it was a huge gift.
Can you give an advice to expat partners?
Never give up your own game. Never give up your goals, desires and figure out a way to have balance between the love of your partner, your family and also yourself.
Can you tell us 3 magical places you liked in Paris?
And… Opéra Garnier because seeing a ballet there was the most beautiful and magical experience of my life.
What is your favorite quote in French?
I am going with “Je me souviens” from Ménélik because this is thanks to my first job in the music industry that I am here today.
Your favorite French word?
This time I am going with a street which is “Rue des Mauvais Garçons” because I just think that is amazing to have a street named for the bad boys.
3 words for Paris?
Love eat and walk.
This concludes the interview of Marcie. We adored to share this amazing artist’s interview with you!
And you? Do you have an expat spouse story to share? We would love to write about you!
You are an expat partner looking for a job in Paris? Get your ticket in early bird here and meet talent managers from big compagnies!
Article written by Théophile GRUET