Thursday, December 9, 2010

Interview with Fifi O’neill

Hi there!

I have an exciting,  fabulous interview to share with you

about a one-of-a-kind, special, woman

 FiFi O’neill editor of Romantic Country and now author of

her exciting new book Romantic Prairie Style.

I know many of you know and love Fifi as much as

I do, so I was thrilled when she agreed to doing an interview

with me about her latest book

Romantic Prairie Style.

Romantic Prairie Style

Home Inspired by Traditional Country Living!!!

She is so talented and I wanted to know what the method to her madness is, amongst

other things, 

when creating such beautiful, inspirational magazines and books!

Enjoy this fun Interview! I know you are going to love it as much as I enjoyed doing it!!!

Question: How did you come up with such a beautiful theme for this book?

Answer:  The idea for Romantic Prairie Style came to me last year when I began to think about the look I wanted to create as I was undertaking the design of my guest house. Though I was born in the city (Paris) I am a country girl at heart. It goes back to my childhood. I always loved the simpler, homespun appeal of farmhouses, as I mentioned in the book introduction: As far back as I can remember I always had a love of wide open spaces, wild flowers, and uncontrived interiors. I never felt comfortable surrounded by buildings that obscured the infinite sky, proper bouquets perfectly arranged, and studied, albeit beautiful, Parisian interiors.  Even as a child I was the happiest when the holidays came and my parents would take my sister and I away from Paris to a little stone cottage in a meadow deep in the heart of France. There life was pure, simple, and delightful. The house was old and charming with unpretentious and practical furnishings--most from local barn sales and artisans. The landscape sparkled in the unspoiled luminous clarity of wild flowers prairies where the sheep grazed among goldenrod and purple thistle. And it wasn't unusual to open the wooden shutters early in the morning and find a wayward cow or a goat munching on dewy grass. Those were the days when we were free to jump in limpid pools of rainwater, gather armfuls of field flowers or baskets of fruits from adjacent orchards. On sunny afternoons the scent of fresh baked pies wafting from the kitchen would lure us back to the house.

Question: The name is so special, what inspired you to come up with such a romantic name?

I love this answer!

Answer: My affection for the Prairies stems from such books as Willa Cather's O Pioneers, My Antonia, and The Song of the Lark (known as "the prairie trilogy") and, of course, Little House on the Prairie. But it is also from researching historical facts about the prairie homes--then called the "soddies" because they were make with sod--dating back to the early 1800s, the material used, the lifestyle and the values held dear. And of course, some lovely poetry came into the picture as well. Here is one of my favorites:

"I am standing in the summer sun,

Where the rabbits hide and the small quails run.

I listen to the prairie's song

In every breeze that comes along."

--Betty Lou Hebert, "Prairie Gentian"

These are the elements that led to the title of the book.

Question: How long was the book in your creative mind, before you actually created it?

Answer: I decided to do the proposal for the book on February 1, this year. It took 2 weeks to put it together. I sent it to my publisher and got the Ok by the end of that month. In March I began to look for locations, came up with all of them by the end of April and started shooting in early June. They were scattered all over the country so Mark (the photographer) and I met in various states and flew from one to the next. I styled. He shot. We finished shooting in July.  I had 3 weeks to write the book in August. I wrote 16 hours a day, 7 days a week for 2 1/2 weeks and I completed everything a bit ahead of schedule.

Question: What inspired you to do it?

Answer: I wanted to do a book that would be more meaningful that a straight decorating book. A number of things came into play: The global economic crisis, the emphasis on green living, and the need to escape the stressful demands of today's life. The more unsettling the news, the more we seek the refuge of our homes and look for meaningful and economical ways to beautify our surroundings with honest materials and artisanal goods that create homes, not just shelters. The lessons learned come together in the celebration of a wholesome life. Now, we look back to the  yesteryears because to understand the past is to secure the future. We embrace the present hence fostering stewardship of the land. The authenticity, poesy and healing qualities inherent to this wholesome and sustainable lifestyle define Prairie Style. To carry on traditions, preserve a way of life, and acknowledge the past are its heart . The nobility of the land and the fragility of our heritage are its soul. The spirit of the prairie drifts eternal in the romance of nurturing interiors and the abundant beauty of the nature.  Romantic Prairie Style was the perfect vehicle. It is much more than a decorating book it's a way of life.

Question: Is this your first book?

Answer: Yes, it is.

Question: Will you grace us with more amazing interior design books?

Answer: Yes, I have already done the preliminaries for book 2 and will be starting producing it early in 2011.

Question: Your writing skills are unbelievable, have you always been an avid writer?

Answer: Yes, I have always been a writer but until I came to this country I only wrote in French. I learned English by reading books

Question : What is your educational background?

Answer: I was born, raised, and schooled in Paris, France. I studied philosophy and journalism.

Question: Who or where do you look most to for inspiration? Do you have favorite designers and authors?

Answer: Most of my inspiration comes from beautiful photos of interiors and nature. As far as designers go, my affection goes to the signature styles of Atlanta Bartlett, Caroline Quartermaine, Christina Strutt, and Rachel Ashwell. When it comes to authors, I prefer French, English and Russian classics.

Question: What are your future plans with your career? How many magazines are you and editor for?

Answer: As editor goes, I am the editor for only one magazine, Romantic Country. As far as writing, styling and photography, I produce features for many American magazines (too numerous to count) as well as for half a dozen of European publications.

I had to ask one more Question:

What is your favorite style, or do you have one?

Answer: At the risk of sounding self serving, I have to say Romantic Prairie Style because it embodies all that truly matters: family, home, and the earth. But, I would like to add that what makes a style a style is when you create your own. It's not always easy to give it a name but what makes a style work is personality and individuality whatever the influences.

Again, I loved doing this interview and I know how busy Fifi can be.

She took the time to do this interview with me

and I am so grateful for that. I knew you guys and gals

would enjoy it too.

Fifi is truly a genuine soul.

Thank you Fifi!!

I already reserved a copy of this book! If you

haven’t already reserved your copy!!! I highly recommend

it, and be sure and visit Fifi’s blog.

Be back soon,




  1. ~*~*Wonderful interview Lulu!!~*~THanks for sharing the amazing Fifi with us!!LOVE her style and cant wait to get the book! Hugs, Rachel~*~*~*

    *French Farmhouse 425*

  2. Great interview and I can't wait for this book to come out!!!!

  3. I loved learning more about Fifi, Lulu! I can hardly wait to see her book in my mailbox! And how exciting that she's already working on book 2! :)

    xoxo laurie

  4. I really enjoyed this interview with you and Fifi. Thank you lovely ladies, whom I both consider dear friends.


  5. Wonderful interview! I feel that I know Fifi! I have her book on my Christmas wish list!


  6. She truly is the sweetest lady!
    I've had the pleasure of discussing some things with her of late, and she is every bit as lovely and kind as I had heard.

    Great interview, Lu!


  7. How eloquently spoken! She is such a true artist in all aspects. I just love the written word, especially when she puts her thoughts down. I can't wait to get this book. This was a wonderful interview, thanks for sharing her with us :)
    Becky C
    Buckets of Burlap

  8. She's just the best, sweet Fifi. Don't know of another soul that gives to us all so freely. I'll say it as long as I breathe, she changed my life.

    Thanks for the interview, Lu!

  9. Thank you again Fifi for all you GIVE us! You are amazing and I really appreciate your interview!! Can't wait for your book!! xooxkathee

  10. Great !!!!........... interview and I can't wait for this book to come out !!...Fifi is the best !!...i like her style......love love love Ria....

  11. Love Fifi! Your interview with her was just perfect. I learned so much. Great questions and answers. Can't wait until her book is out. I have already preordered mine:)Thanks for sharing:)
    ~Debra xxx
    Capers of the vintage vixens

  12. Lovely interview with a very talented and interesting Fifi. I look forward to the book and know it will not disappoint! :)

  13. I am so glad you did this! How interesting that she studied philosophy...and researched the true "prairie homes"...
    willa cather is one of my favorite authors too, and understand why she's one of hers as well

    great interview Lulu!! can't wait to see the next book with Fifi.....how exciting she's doing another!
    Anne Marie

  14. What a great interview with Fifi, she is truly a treasure and a great friend! I can't wait to see the book, it will be a wonderful "go to" reference for everything beautiful!

    Kat :)

  15. Fifi is so special I call her the French Angel.. we are all blessed to have her in our world. Great interview! xoxo Laura

  16. She is too adorable ..and very talented too!

  17. Thanks for sharing...can't wait to get my copy!

  18. What a great interview I am following Fifi for a few years now so it was great to read some more about here work and live ;) thanks Lu
    all the best


  19. Lovely interview Lu! I love Fifi, she's so inspirational and talented and yet so generous and humble. She's one of the best out there!


  20. What a fab interview. I can't wait to get this book, thank you for the introduction.

    Lisa @ Lesapea

  21. Very nice and enjoyable interview. I'm looking forward to reading her book.

  22. Hello there~
    So nice to meet you. I found you through Romantic Country and just posted about the feature. Come on over.

  23. This is a great interview~! I love Fifi.She seems like such a sweet soul!

  24. which remind me.. I picked up my copy of Romantic Country the other day..... :)

  25. Wishing you a very happy christmas time together with the ones you love.
    muchos cariños

  26. ..omgosh- I ADORE her response to the first question about her stone cottage in the meadow..
    Hugs Lara

  27. Hi Lulu,
    A wonderful post and interview with Fifi. Also very inspiring.
    Have a very Merry Christmas and blessings for your family.
    Hugs, Elizabeth

  28. Thank you for this interview, it's always a pleasure to hear about Fifi ! I really love her style and I can't wait for her book !
    Best wishes for the holiday season !

  29. I Love Fifi
    Thanks for capturing her true spirit
    Wonderful Interview