Interview: Sarah Towle – 1
Episode 1: The Person and the Dreams.
Sarah Towle is the Founder and Creative Director of Time Traveler Tours. She is also the Producer of interactive StoryApp itineraries for youth and the young at heart.
How would you describe yourself in three adjectives?
Tenacious, stubborn and persevering. Okay, I realize these all mean sort of the same thing, depending on your point of view. But if it weren’t for these traits, my StoryApp Tours would never have been born!
What is your connection to France?
France is now my adoptive home. Prior to that, France was my fascination. I was twelve when I was first introduced to the French language. I fell in love with it then, though it would be years before I would learn it well. At University I studied French cultural history and resolved then that I would live in Paris one day. I finally made it, in 2004, two decades, three languages and several continents later.
What are your interests outside of writing and App development?
I’m a linguist by profession, so I love studying languages both for communication as well as from an anthropological point of view. I was lucky to be able to make a living from this passion for 15 years before becoming a writer full time, teaching both language learners and language teachers. In addition, I love to read, ride horses, take pictures, practice yoga and sample fine wine. I love to travel, and in particular I love traveling with my family.
How would you describe your first StoryApp Tour?
Beware Mme la Guillotine: A Revolutionary Tour of Paris combines the traditional power of narrative storytelling with the latest in mobile technology to bring the history of the French Revolution to life for teens, ‘tweens and the adults traveling with them. With it, you put the past in the palm of your hand and travel back in time to Paris in 1793 in the company of Charlotte Corday, a 24-year-old convent-school girl turned murderess. As Charlotte spins her personal yarn, guiding you through the museums and monuments of relevance along the way, she reveals the story of her age as well. In addition to compelling narration, the app also contains hunts for existing historical artifacts, game-like challenges and prompts to dig deeper for further information, much like the sidebar in a print publication. There’s even a 10 per cent lunch discount at Le Café Procope, the restaurant recommended by Charlotte, as long as you choose do the treasure hunt while you’re there!
When is it likely to be available to download and will it be available on all smart phones and tablets?
The English version of Beware Mme la Guillotine is available now for iPhone and iPod Touch. It is also iPad compatible, meaning it will display at the full size of the iPad screen, but at a slightly lesser graphic resolution. My team and I intend to set it up for Android, but first we will be releasing an updated French-English bilingual version of the app for Apple devices in November.
You can download the app here. As long as you keep it in your iTunes library, it will automatically update when the French version comes out.
In the longer term, I intend to refashion each StoryApp as a virtual tour, removing elements that require you to be on site, for use in the home or classroom.
What has been the feedback of people previewing it?
I’m thrilled to say that people are responding to it positively all over the globe. It’s resonating with travelers, teachers and writers as well as with authorities on literature for youth and children. It’s received quite a collection of eight 5-star App Store ratings and rave reviews from School Library Journal’s Touch & Go as well as Kirkus Reviews. I’ve appeared on several blogs in addition to this one and I’ve had several radio interviews, including this one by a Massachusetts-based National Public Radio affiliate. The entire blog tour can all be found on my website.
Now onto your favorites…
Who is your favorite hero and your favorite villain in the French Revolution?
Well, my favorite hero would have to be Charlotte Corday while my favorite villain would be Louis Philippe Joseph II, duc d’Orleans, cousin to King Louis XVI.
Which is your favorite monument in Paris to visit?
My goodness! I have so many. So I’m going to ask you to indulge me while I narrow the list to two: the Musée du Louvre and Musée d’Orsay. I love the latter, because I never tire of either the setting or the collection. While in the former, I never fail to find something new. The breadth of treasures hiding in the Louvre and knowledge to be gained there is truly mind-boggling.
Who is your favorite French author?
Victor Hugo, without question, though I also love Zola, Flaubert and Collette.
What is your favorite French meal?
I’m a sucker for your basic French bistro food, what some call comfort food: stews like cassoulet and blanquette de veau or a simple confit de canard with chips, accompanied, bien sûr, with a sturdy, red Bordeaux.
What are some of your favorite French-related Apps?
My current favorite is called Paris Avant. It juxtaposes photographic images from today with the same scene from yesteryear. As you can probably tell by now, I love that sort of thing.
Thank you Sarah for taking time to do this interview with My French Life™.Images credit Sarah Towle, except 3. Scenic Reflections