Last fall, I traveled to France to meet the subject of a new book, Girl on a Motorcycle (Abrams, Fall 2020). Unlike the subjects of all my other books, this one—author, adventurer, bad ass, Anne-France Dautheville—is alive and well. And so I jumped on an SFO-CDG bound jet plane to meet her.
I found Anne-France in a New York Times Magazine piece. A rosy vintage photograph of a gorgeous girl in a flower-print dress, driving a motorbike. In the 1970s, the decade I was born, Anne-France Dautheville left her life in Paris, hopped on a motorcycle, rode across the world, mostly solo, and never looked back. J'ai envie que le monde soit beau, et il est beau. J'ai envie que les gens soient bons, et ils sont bons. I want the world to be beautiful, and it is beautiful. I want people to be good, and they are good. AFD was rediscovered recently by English fashion designer, Claire Waight-Keller, who created an entire collection inspired be her new muse, for Parisian couture house, Chloé.
C'est tout. I contacted Anne-France, wrote the story, Abrams bought it, and I flew alone to Paris. A rare perk of my work, for sure: a room—little more than bed, writing desk and French windows—overlooking Rue du Bac, in the 7th arrondissement. . . .And then, off to Saint-Cyr sur Morin, a small village an hour outside of Paris, where I spent two nights, meeting a real-life heroine. The world is beautiful, good.