Sleeping with my first love and lots of French cockroaches

Amy Bloom possesses two US passports, one dates back to her girlhood, the other is more recent. Flicking through the early passport brings back memories of her first love. "Italy, Denmark, Austria. It was 1972 - I was with my college boyfriend and we had decided we were going away for the summer. Then his parents got him a job and he agreed to take it even though we had decided to go to Europe. I said: "You may want to work in the poster shop in New York City, but I am going to Europe." In the end he decided to come for part of the trip and the couple went to Paris. Bloom remembers: "We were broke and had to stay in a room that was so awful we couldn't bear to sleep there. So we would stay in the cafes until three in the morning and then, when we were unconscious, we would go back and fall asleep until about six when the cockroaches would come thudding across our bodies." Her boyfriend then went back to the poster store and Bloom went on with her travels, had a wonderful time and forgot him. She ended up marrying an academic and had two daughters. She says: "There was a big interruption in my travels in the form of children. They came along in 1979 and 1982." Things changed in 1994 with the publication of her short story collection Come to Me. Bloom got herself a new passport and acquired stamps for London and Amsterdam where she found herself in demand. "They are both cities I feel comfortable in. The great thing about Amsterdam is that after you've been there for 24 hours you start recognising people's faces. You think: 'oh, this is the person who was going over the bridge yesterday' and I like that. Bloom has recently been back in London promoting her first novel Love Invents Us. She brought her 15- year- old daughter along for the ride. Says Bloom: "My daughter had a good time - she got her hair cut in Soho and I got to poke around antique shops and then periodically the sun would come out and all of London was lit up by this pale gold light." She sees the travelling she does to promote her books as a wonderful perk. "It would be nice to go to Brazil, Japan and Germany," she says with a smile. "We will have to wait a little while before the groundswell of interest in my books develops."

ROSANNA GREENSTREET

Love Invents Us is published by Picador, price pounds 15.99.

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