Interview: Oliver Gee & Lina Nordin Gee—also meet Kylie and Roger
Oliver Gee and Lina Nordin Gee are an Australian-Swedish couple who have been living in Paris for nearly seven years.
Living the dream in Paris—between the two of them they:
- run a successful podcast,
- design shoes, and handbags,
- write and illustrate books, and
- navigate life as new parents.
It may sound exhausting for some, but to them, it’s living the dream.
Let’s meet Oliver Gee @theearfultower
Oliver is a former journalist who found that career too serious for his personality, so he started the podcast The Earful Tower as a way to explore Paris, meet interesting people, and have some fun. At the time of writing, it is in the iTunes Top 10 travel podcasts for listeners in Australia and the Top 20 for those in the USA and Canada.
“I suppose a lot of people dream of a life in Paris, and I can transport them here for around 30 minutes every Monday,” Oliver said. “I’m introducing listeners to the characters that make the City of Light shine. And I do my darndest to make it an entertaining escape too.”
And now to meet Lina Nordin Gee @Parisianpostcards
As a fashion designer, living in one of the world’s fashion capitals provides Lina with endless inspiration.
“For my last collection I was literally inspired by the pattern of the classic Parisian bistro chairs,” she said. “In fact, I challenge anyone to have a coffee on rue Cler for half an hour and not get some creative ideas.”
Similarly, when it comes to her illustrations, she’s inspired by what she sees.
“My paintings are like a visual diary for me, she said. “But I also hope that others can take something from them. Perhaps they remind people of a special holiday, or a dream destination in Paris… or maybe just a Parisian dream!”
However, the couple’s recent publication of the children’s book ‘Kylie the Crocodile’ has prompted Lina to reconsider how she describes herself.
“If you asked me a year ago I’d have said designer,” she said. “But now that I’m illustrating children’s books more than anything else, I’d go by illustrator. Fun fact though: if you look close enough, you’ll find my handbags and shoes in the pages of our books.”
What about Kylie & Roger—charming Parisians both of them
‘Kylie the Crocodile in Paris‘ came about as a COVID-19 lockdown project and is about a crocodile living in a Paris canal who enjoys people watching and exploring the city.
“When we were in the first Paris lockdown, in a tiny apartment in Montmartre, we decided to get creative to pass the time,” Oliver said. “Seeming Lina is a wonderful illustrator, and seeming I love to tell stories, we figured the best thing we could make would be a picture book.
“We wrote about a crocodile in the Canal Saint-Martin, after an elderly woman told me she released one in there a few years back. We were super nervous that the people who follow us, who are used to us making podcasts and handbags, might not like children’s books… but luckily they did!”
Oliver wrote the text as a series of rhyming couplets, with Lina matching her illustrations to the words and providing suggestions for new ideas to incorporate into the story, which Oliver then adopted.
“For example, in the first draft, Kylie never explored Paris at night,” Oliver said. “But one of the sketches had Kylie trying on shoes in the Bon Marché department store and I thought it was so charming. The next thing we knew, Kylie had visited half of Paris. It added a beautiful Paris element to the book, but also a challenge for the youngsters: Can you spot Kylie on every page, especially when she’s hiding away from the Parisians?”
Oliver and Lina say the feedback they’ve received on the book, which is recommended for the 3- to 9-year-old age group, has been beyond their wildest expectations.
The most touching is when we hear that children love it, Oliver said. Some children have memorized it, some take it to bed every night. Someone used it to teach English in South Korea, someone translated it to French, someone translated the video to sign language, and it’s been a best seller in Shakespeare and Company… it’s been a wild ride.
Oliver has previously written a memoir of living in Paris and is halfway through a second one that will chronicle life in lockdown, watching the city re-open, and navigating fatherhood. However, we’re unlikely to see a memoir from Lina yet.
“What with making handbags, shoes, and children’s books,” she said. “Not to mention looking after a little one (Otis, not Oliver!) I think I’ve got too many irons in the fire.”
Who’d have thought of pregnancy as another way to learn French?
Otis is their son who was born in May 2021, meaning that on top of their work, Lina and Oliver have been navigating life as first-time parents in French.
“For us, the biggest challenge was that while we both speak decent French, we had no idea about ‘pregnancy French’ or even ‘giving birth French’,” Lina said. “We came across so many new words and phrases that we were often left confused (and sometimes laughing).”
For example, if you think you speak French, can you tell me what a ‘turbulette‘ is and why you might need one? Go on have a guess before you look it up 😉
Living the dream in Paris: thinking of joining them? Just do it!!
Oliver and Lina are acutely aware that they’re living the Paris dream and their advice to others is “just do it!”
“I have a feeling these will be the day we’ll remember most fondly when we’re old and gray,” Oliver said.
“It might seem tricky to make the dream a reality, and indeed it can be tough to find your feet, but there’s no doubt that Paris is magical and life can be wonderful here. If you can dream it, you can make it happen. And Paris is for dreamers, after all.”
Oliver and Lina recently launched their much-anticipated second children’s book, ‘Roger the Liger in Paris’, via YouTube and on Kickstarter where they’ve passed their target, and if you’re really quick you can order with YOUR NAME in the book!
‘Kylie the Crocodile’ is available via their website, The Earful Tower.