It started with a volcano.
When Oakhurst resident Evelyne Holingue's husband and daughter almost got stuck in Paris -- flying out of its airport shortly before a volcano erupted in Iceland in 2010 that shut down all air traffic due to a large ash cloud -- Holingue got inspired.
The writer did what writers tend to do: Imagine, "what if."
The idea of what could have ensued from being stuck overseas got her creative juices flowing and led to the premise of a mystery/adventure/action/love story that she recently published for young adults, titled "Trapped in Paris."
Holingue wrote the story, for ages 12 and older, with her teenage son in mind -- eager to give "reluctant boy readers" a story to get excited about.
"Trapped in Paris" is framed around 16-year-olds Cameron and Framboise, who find themselves trapped in Paris after the Iceland volcano eruption grounds all flights out of the city.
After the duo witness a murder, they are kidnapped by a mysterious dangerous man and become unlikely partners in a fast spine-chilling, four-day adventure through the Parisian suburbs.
"Confronted with exceptional events, Cameron and Framboise must rely on each other," Holingue said. "When they get separated, after a disagreement, Cameron will trust his survival instinct, brave danger, and act with unexpected courage. Ultimately Cameron and Frambroise will also overcome their personal grief and open their hearts to the possibility of change and love."
The story is Holingue's first published novel, although this is certainly not her first experience writing. Holingue has already had several of her short stories published in magazines; has had three of her stories broadcast on National Public Radio's Valley Writers Read; and has won first place for her writing in two writing contests -- including the 2007 Yosemite Writers Conference.
She is doing a big launch of "Trapped in Paris" from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 24 at Petunia's Place Bookstore in Fresno's Opus I Shopping Center, located at 6027 North Palm Ave, as part of its "Festival of Local Authors" -- including Doug Hansen, Margarita Engle, Linda Kroll, Joan Schoettler and Dorina Lazo Gilmore, along with special store promotions all-day.
"Trapped in Paris" naturally includes a returning theme for Holingue: France.
A couple days before Christmas in 1990, Holingue celebrated her 30th birthday and then left her home country of France for a new life in America with her baby girl, Calliope and husband, Jean-Olivier.
Her husband's new job in the Bay Area later led to a move out of the big city into Coarsegold's Yosemite Lakes Park, where her three children: Calliope, 21; Thalia, 18; and Ulysse, 16 spent most of their young lives.
The sequel to "Trapped in Paris" will be a reverse -- the French heroine will be going on an adventure in the United States with her American hero the next time the duo meets up.
"We like to go and visit, but I think we definitely became strangers to many people in France. We're definitely American and love to be in this country," Holingue said. "There is something unique in this country: If you can do something, try, and if you fail, you can try it again. There is no shame. The shame would be not trying. To me, that symbolizes the United States of America ...
"When we go back to France to visit, there are a lot of people doing amazing things, but I think all together they are not as willing to do new things, which I think is very characteristic of America. I don't think I've ever met an American who didn't have an idea about something."
That American boldness helped get her confidence up to venture into the brave new world of self-publishing. Holingue also isn't a stranger to the publishing business, having worked at a publishing company in France for many years before her move to the states.
Holingue said she hopes the story helps readers "discover within yourself more strength than you think you have."
Like the ash cloud of the volcano eruption, "in the book, both main characters have a small ash cloud over their own lives" that they pull out of, she said.
"I hope people find it is an easier read with fast-paced action and also a pretty large range of secondary characters," Holingue said. "And it's set in Paris, which is definitely a different setting for an American reader."
Along with Petunia's Place , The novel is available for purchase through Holingue's website, evelyneholingue.com, amazon.com, via e-book for Kindle, or through an email request at firstname.lastname@example.org.
"We will always be seeking words that take us away, make us dream, laugh, cry, cheer, and make us more human," said Holingue about the power of the written word. "Stories, either published in a physical book or electronically, found in a bookstore or online, still unite people through the universality of human feelings."