#Blogival2016: Hadrian’s Rage by Patricia Marie Budd

Cover - Patricia M Budd 2015 v2

BLOGIVAL 2016 by Clink Street Publishing and Authoright

Book: Hadrian’s Rage

Author: Patricia Marie Budd (@PMBudd)

Synopsis:

Once an oasis in a world of destruction, the nation of Hadrian risks falling into disarray over its government’s persecution of heterosexual relationships, in this standalone  dystopian sequel by gifted Canadian writer.

The nation of Hadrian is close to breaking point. After fifty years as a relative oasis at the heart of a world polluted by disease and despair, the death of Todd Middleton — a 16-year-old who dared to disregard the laws prohibiting straight relationships and natural reproduction — has moved many of Hadrian’s citizens to question the country’s rules governing sexual equality.

Extract:

This excerpt is from the chapter A Social Experiment. The social experiment conducted two Russian men who illustrated just how homophobic the streets of Russia really are inspired it.

The following morning, Kendra and Sid bravely wrap arms around each other. The physical contact denoting affection for someone of the opposite sex is foreign to both, but their intellectual understanding of the experiment allows both to overcome the oddity of the moment. Directing her attention to the back of Prasert’s turban where he has adeptly hidden a small video recording device, Kendra giggles. “I can’t believe we’re actually using one of those archaic video devices.”

“Hey,” Sid reminds her, “some students need them. We can’t all afford expensive vocs.”

“No,” Kendra agrees, “but a good voc cam records ten times better than that old thing.”

“And how obvious would that be with Prasert walking backwards just to film us?” Kendra concedes the point and Sid shouts for Prasert to begin.

The couple walks casually through the Uni Park, taking a moment to enjoy the flowers, cross the small bridge over the babbling creek, as well as do a little bird watching, every movement calculated to reflect a young couple in love. It doesn’t take long for the experiment to unveil some of the more guarded prejudices people hold. The people they pass begin to stop and stare. Someone even calls out to his friends, “Hey, look—it’s a couple of strais!”

Laughter follows and someone else shouts, “You sick fucks don’t belong here.” “Yeah,” another voice adds. “Leave Hadrian, why don’t cha?”

And then someone purposely bumps into Sid. This happens a few more times, with men slamming into Sid’s shoulder and women slamming into Kendra’s. Suddenly, someone grabs Kendra and shoves her aside. The next thing Sid knows, a man twice his size in both height and weight has shoved his face up against his nose and started yelling, “What the fuck are you doing here, strai?” Much of the abuse blurs in Sid’s ears, but Prasert catches it all on cam. Prasert’s first instinct is to turn around and help his lover, but Kendra manages to extract Sid from a potentially volatile situation, so Prasert turns away again to continue capturing the event for posterity.

“We aren’t strai,” Kendra now pleads to the crowd. “We just lost a bet. We lost a bet. That’s all. To pay up, we had to walk around Uni Park, pretending we were strais.”

The big man looks Kendra’s way before turning his scowls back at Sid. “That true?”

Sid picks up where Kendra left off. “Yeah, man; it’s just a prank. We lost a bet. Our buddies made us do this.”

“Fuckin’ stupid bet. Your friends must hate you.”

“Yeah,” Kendra agrees, trying desperately to convince the man. “I would have been a lot happier having to down a dozen shooters or guzzle a mickey of rye.”

This confession convinces the man and he laughs. Suddenly, he and Sid are best buds. He wraps an arm around Sid’s shoulder and gives him a shake. “You two were really good. I really thought you were a knife and a stab walking that way.”

“Yeah, well,” Sid says as he breathes a sigh of relief, “that was part of the bet. We had to make it look real.”

When Kendra is finally able to extricate Sid from his “new best friend,” the three of them head back to Sid’s place to debrief.

“Man, I’m telling you,” Sid readily admits, “that man scared the shit out of me. I thought I was dead.”

“I know,” Kendra concurs. “The way he grabbed me and shoved me…Look.” She points to the bruise on her left bicep. “That fucker really hurt me.” Now looking her brother’s way, she adds, “I had no idea what it feels like to be so hated. It’s horrible.” Shaking her head, looking directly into the vid cam Prasert is holding, she declares, “Everyone in Hadrian needs to know what this feels like.” Now talking directly to their future audience, she says, “If you could feel what Sid and I went through today, just for walking arm-in-arm, you would never want—you could never want—no decent human being could ever justify treating another person that way ever again!”

*********

Thanks to Patricia for providing the extract and if you liked what you’ve read her books Hadrian’s Lover and Hadrian’s Rage (the second int the series) can both be purchased from online retailers including amazon.co.uk or you can follow Patricia @pmbudd .

Also to follow more author and blogger fun check out the next stops on the #Blogival2016 calendar: Linda’s Book Bag and Chocolate Pages !

Event: Exclusive theatre evening in honour of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s 155th Birthday

20140522_173417

20140522_174007

Event: To celebrate Sir Arthur Conan Doyle turning the grand age of 155 an evening was planned to celebrate his most iconic character, Sherlock Holmes.

Who: Hosted by the Park Plaza Sherlock Holmes and in order to raise awareness and money for both The National Literacy Trust and Undershaw Preservation Trust.

When: On his birthday obviously, Thursday 22nd May 2014

Where: Park Plaza Sherlock Holmes located quite aptly on Baker Street

Refreshments:

20140522_173355

I’m not 100% sure you can see from the photo of the menu but the Sherlock Holmes afternoon tea included:

Tier 1: Sandwiches: Cheddar and pickle, roast beef and horseradish, smoked salmon and lemon cream, cucumber and dill.

Tier 2: Scones (oh glorious scones!): 1 plain scone and 1 fruit scone with clotted cream.

Tier 3: Cakes comprising of: Pimms & strawberry cheesecake, lemon & poppy seed sponge, treacle tart and a Victoria sponge.

NB: I feel I should note I didn’t eat all of this by myself I got them to package it away discreetly in a doggy bag!

Then it was onto the canapés:

Mini (I say mini they were quite sizeable) fish and chips in a cone, dates wrapped in bacon, croque monsieur with a quail egg, sausage rolls, a soup, a turkey piece wrapped in bacon and a couple of others that alluded me.

Freebies: Aside from the entire evening?…

Review:

I arrived at the Park Plaza Sherlock Holmes for 5.30pm for the exclusive Sherlock Holmes themed afternoon tea. I didn’t realise it was afternoon tea for one but I was duly escorted to my comfy leather chair and enjoyed first class care and attention. The dining room was shared only by a pair of well-to-do ladies, one of whom was sporting a magnificent hat, I was later to learn she was the wife of one of the Sherlockian authors present that evening, no wonder their conversational topics spanned from the Romanov dynasty to Einstein – yes I was eavesdropping.

During my afternoon of sandwich nibbling and gin swigging, Maria, the PR Executive, Europe, Middle East & Africa for PPHE Hotel Group, came over and introduced herself explaining the layout of the evening and also talking me through my sandwiches. The afternoon tea had been designed by the Park Plaza kitchen team who were keen to bring alive the spirit of the Victorian period. She also introduced me to Steve Emcez, the lead man at MX Publishing who was responsible for much of the evening’s talent.

In Steve’s capable hands I was taken on a whirlwind tour of Sherlock Holmes and Arthur Conan Doyle. Being the UK’s leading NLP and Victorian Literature Publishers, they offered a lending library of a number of their author catalogue to the Park Plaza spanning Sherlock Holmes inspired graphic novels to the more fantastical outings of Doyle’s fans.

I was introduced to Luke Kuhns author of such Sherlock Holmes graphic novels as Sherlock Holmes and the Horror of Frankenstein , he’s currently working on his next full-blown graphic novel totalling 90 pages of Sherlock in Technicolor glory.

By 6.30pm the evening proper was beginning and the room was filling up fast with fans, authors and members of the Undershaw trust mingling around each other. After my afternoon tea I wasn’t sure I could cope with canapés, that was until they came out and I realised what they were, mini fish and chips? Yes please. Croque Monsieur with a quail egg? Why the devil not? All washed down with a ‘Scandal in Bohemia’ gin martini…or three.

No birthday would have been complete without a rousing rendition of the birthday song attributed to ‘Sir Arthur,’ not Arty as I would like to believe he would have preferred, the cake, a magnificent feat of baking by the Park Plaza Sherlock Homes kitchen and pictured above, was cut and handed out before we were ushered downstairs to commence the theatrical entertainment.

20140522_201033

The evening’s entertainment was brought to the revellers by ‘Don’t go into the cellar’ who market themselves as, Victorian Theatre with Bite! The one man show entitled ‘The Singular Exploits of Sherlock Holmes,’ was acted with tremendous aplomb by the talented Jonathan Goodwin with technical and stage support in the guise of Gary Archer. Throughout the hour-long play we were treated to the well-known characters of not only Sherlock but Moriarty, Myroft and the stealer of scandal Milverton.

Cast your eyes to the left for a glance of Goodwin in full character.

The final act of the evening was a Skype link up with a mirror-image party taking place in Florida, the reason behind this was to get involved with a live Q&A with bestseller and award-winning author Diane about her latest novel ‘The Conan Doyle Notes – The Secret of Jack The Ripper’, talking from her world book launch.

Unfortunately, as all best laid plans when it comes to technology actually working there was a couple of hiccups relating to microphones and videos, however, we did get to hear a little about her latest foray into writing and although this didn’t contain Sherlock in the novel his methods and presence within the pages was very much alive and well.

As 9.30pm signalled the end of what was a not so elementary evening (sorry!) it was time to head home. A massive thank you to not only the Park Plaza Sherlock Holmes but also MX Publishing for hosting such a wonderfully entertaining event. Plus with profits going to The National Literacy Trust and The Undershaw Preservation Trust it was truly a worthwhile evening for all those in attendance.

Rating: 7 out of 10

Blog Tour: ‘The Illusionists’ by Rosie Thomas

The Illusionists

Rosie Thomas

Title: The Illusionists

Author:Rosie Thomas

Publisher: Harper Collins £14.99 (hardback)

Publication Date: 27 February 2014

Hardback: 336pages

Review:

Bestselling author of the phenomenally successful The Kashmir Shawl is back with her latest literary installment and this time she’s kept it local.

Enter the dirty and depraved streets of London in 1870 and meet Eliza, beautiful, fiercely independent and defying convention. Through her work, as an artist’s model, she meets the magnetic and unashamedly stubborn Devil, a born showman whose dream is to own his own theatre. Third in our unlikely trio is Carlo Bonomi, a hot-tempered dwarf with a ridiculous talent for contortion and illusion. Strong personalities mean emotions run high with only Eliza on hand to balance the uneasy peace. Mild-mannered artist Jasper Button and socially awkward Heinrich Bayer complete our unexpected family. Thrown together by a twist of fate, their lives are inextricably linked and as Eliza gets sucked into the seductive and dangerous world that her strange companions inhabit, she risks not only her heart, but also her life.

The novel is rooted in love, first and foremost that of the theatre, but also love of our leading lady Eliza. She has a beautiful spirit and sense of character and I could certainly identify with her conflicting emotions and her desire not to be dominated by the man she loves, she wants to be an equal. The disruptions between the motley crew of characters stem indirectly from her as the competition between her admirers rages through the pages – although one should note that it’s an unfair battle as she is fated from day one to be with one man in particular.

With that in mind, prepare to fall in love yourself. Devil Wix embodies the elusive, mysterious and artistic man who makes women flutter their eyelashes and fall at his feet – plus he’s got a dark side and a past shrouded in shadows. If I were to cast him in the cinematic adaptation (as I am sure one will follow swiftly) I would cast Ben Whishaw – sorry Mr Depp you’re a bit old for this one!

His second in command Carlo was a poignant character. We discover him drowning in sadness (and beer) after losing his family and fighting a bitter battle against society’s reaction to his stature. Following his descent into anger and eventually an all-consuming jealousy you cannot help but become emotionally entangled, although at times his attitudes were a tad extreme.

Strangely enough, the individual that stood out for me was the eerie individual of Heinrich Bayer, a creator of automatons (a type of robot) who becomes unhealthy attached to his creation Lucy. His act is to dance with Lucy every night at the theatre something which is initially beautiful but quickly becomes disturbing especially when he gives her a ‘voice’, in fact Eliza’s voice. It’s his storyline that provides a unique and extremely dark plot-line that ensures the story has edge and continued momentum alongside the growth of the theatre.

This is a magical, atmospheric and gothic tale of a group of unique and often disturbed individuals who are brought together by the theatre and develop into an inextricably linked family.

Rating: 9 out of 10 – fans of The Night Circus will love this (as will everyone with a touch of imagination)

Competition Time

How to enter:

To be in with a chance to win a SIGNED copy of ‘The Illusionists’ by Rosie Thomas, all you have to do is leave your name and email in the reply box below along with your favourite magical ‘Illusion’. The closing date for entries will be Wednesday 23rd April 2014 at 23.59. ONE winner will then be chosen at random from the entrants and announced on the The Friendly Shelf blog on Thursday 24th April 2014. UK and Ireland only.

Visit The Book Bag for your next time on this fantastical blog tour!

Blog Tour Review: ‘Precious Thing’ by Colette McBeth

Precious Thing]

Title: Precious Thing

Author: Colette McBeth

Biographical Notes

Colette McBeth was a BBC TV News Correspondent for ten years. She lives in London with her husband and three young children. She attended the Faber Academy Novel Writing Course in 2011. PRECIOUS THING is her first novel.

Publisher: Headline

Publication date: 1st August 2013

Paberback: 352 pages

Why did I chose to read this book? I noticed their was a blog tour on Headlines’ brilliant website BookBridgr

Review:

Remember the person you sat next to on your first day at school? Still your best friend? Or disappeared from your life for good? Some friendships fizzle out. Rachel and Clara promised theirs would last for ever. They met when Rachel was the new girl in class and Clara was the friend everyone wanted. Now in their late twenties Rachel has everything while Clara’s life is spiraling further out of control. Then Clara vanishes. Imagine discovering something about your oldest friend that forces you to question everything you’ve shared together. The truth is always there. But only if you choose to see it.

This novel is full of plot twists and turns that will leave you feeling like you’re on a psychological roller coaster with the ending being a massive free fall into an unnerving abyss. Written in the first person in the style of a letter or perhaps a diary entry by our protagonist Rachel the chapters intertwine the past with the present to give a fast paced insight into the two friends shared history and relationship.

Rachel’s childhood is less than chocolate box happy. We witness her battling adolescence with an alcoholic mother and an absentee father unhappy and always slightly overweight and uncool. Her friendship with the vivacious and beautiful Cara is her lifeline and their friendship grows to an unhealthy co-dependence. Tell-tale signs are hinted at and feel just out of reach from the reader as Colette teases us with snapshots of half-told memories leaving our own imaginations to run rampant. This would usually annoy me but in this context it was brilliant and added to a feeling of unsettled eeriness.

The descent into family and past revelations gathers pace as Rachel takes it into her own hands to hunt down Cara and a stark and disturbing individual is revealed. However, a review should never reveal too much otherwise it’s ruined for everyone and the surprising nature of the story makes this difficult. Suffice to say the characters you encounter in Precious Moments are disturbing and portray beautifully a relationship that has at the heart psychological warfare and manipulation.

This is a great and shocking read about an intimate friendship and one which fans of a variety of reading genres will enjoy – read it!

Rating: 7 out of 10

Blog Tour Review: ‘Skeletons’ by Jane Fallon

Skeletons cover (2)

JaneFallon©LeeCarter low res (2)

Title:Skeletons

Author: Jane Fallon

Publisher: Micheal Joseph, Penguin

Publication date: 27th March, £7,99

Paperback: 448 pages

Why did I choose to read this book? I was invited on the Blog Tour by the PR team at FMcM so I jumped aboard – toot toot.

Jane Fallon’s Official Writing Tips:

1. Keep writing. It’s all too easy to keep going back over a passage to perfect it. It’ll mean you never move on. Write a first draft quickly (I say quickly, mine take 8 or 9 months!) without stopping to edit too much. I guarantee you will have found your style by the end and then you can go back and rewrite and polish from the start.

2. It’s great to chat through ideas sometimes but try to not invite too much input as you’re writing the first draft. It’ll only confuse you. Novels need a bit of tunnel vision. Essentially your book is different because it’s written by you. If you start putting in all your friends’ suggestions it will lose that uniqueness.

3. They say write about what you know for a reason. It will give your book depth and authenticity. That doesn’t mean you must have gone through the same things as your heroines or heroes but you should understand the world they move in. If you have your characters work in a field you’re familiar with or live in a town you know well you will be able to add little details and bits of colour that will help create a believable world for your book.

4. If you struggle with naturalistic dialogue then tape a conversation between you and your friends one night without telling them. When you listen back you’ll notice how no one speaks in perfectly structured sentences. We stop half way through a sentence. We change thought out of nowhere. We abbreviate. It’s unlikely that when speaking to a friend we’d say ‘I do not’. We say ‘I don’t” Say your dialogue out loud (when there’s no one else around obviously!) and listen to how it sounds.

5. On a similar note think about the use of names. It’s very rare that people use each other’s names all the time when they’re chatting. It’s generally only if we’re telling someone off or trying to make a point. If you’re worried that if the characters don’t refer to each other by name all the time then the reader won’t be able to keep up with who’s saying what there’s something more fundamentally wrong with how you’ve written the conversation.

6. Most importantly of all write. Anything and everything. Every day. It’s a skill and it needs to be practiced. The more you write the better you’ll be.


Review:

Since she was a little girl Jen always wanted a big, happy family. So when she married Jason and into the Masterson clan she got exactly what she wanted, then when two daughters followed everything was perfect and that’s how it remained for twenty-two years. Then one lunch time Jess witnesses something that she was never meant to and a crack forms on the surface of her perfect life, a secret that will slowly but surely seep its way into every corner of her world and destroy everyone and everything in it. But if she keeps this secret to herself, how long can she keep up the pretence to those closest to her? How long can she live a lie

Jen Masterson knows the truth – but is she ready for the consequences?

Jen Masterson to begin with is not my favourite female she’s quite a needy wet lettuce however, it’s stick with her because she develops into someone that you can not only identify with and I personally end up extremely peeved on her behalf.

The Masterson clan come across as one big huggable team with Amelia and Charles in the middle. However, this idealised nuclear family is quickly put under the microscope and the overbearing, exclusive nature becomes apparent. By the end of the journey they represent a freaky twilight zone family who have unhealthily closed ranks without dealing with their issues. As an ‘outsider’ Jen is the perfect witness to this entire transformation and it must be noted Jason, Jen’s husband, needs to grow a backbone and some balls.

As peripheral characters I really loved Elaine, Jen’s mother, I found her story really heartfelt and their relationship flourishes beautifully on the side lines. Further to Elaine, Jen’s colleagues at the hotel are light relief in the guise of ‘my wife says’ Neil and flirty guest Sean.

A slight disappointment within the story was the underdeveloped role of Cass, whose reason for being is the catalyst for all future events. We are offered glimmers of her as a person but I would have preferred for her to have come further onto centre stage – but perhaps this was because she was the bomb that Jen detonated and the focus was on the fallout.

Although not my usual genre, this was a really interesting read exploring the differences in families and their responses to a crisis and how to deal with secrets. The lesson I’ve learned is stop at 4 glasses of wine if you’re harbouring someone else’s secret!

Next stop on the Skeletons blog tour is Novel Kicks – all aboard!

Skeletons by Jane Fallon is published by Michael Joseph /Penguin £7.99

Book Review: ‘High Rise’ by J G Ballard

High Rise

Title: High Rise

Author: J G Ballard

Publisher: (my copy) Fourth Estate; New Ed edition (imprint of Harper Collins)

Publication date: Originally 1975 but my edition is 2014 and very shiny

Paperback: 176 pages

Why did I chose to read this book? Tom Hiddleston was tooted as the lead character in the film adaptation anything that he would sign up to had to be good so I bought a copy from the stunning Daunt Books Bookshop

Where to read this book? If you’ve got the pennies and you’re in London then The Aqua Shard bar would be ideal boasting 31 floors high and offering spectacular views (on a good day) over London enabling you to feel somewhat like one of the character’s that you’re about to meet.

Refreshments: If you managed to get up the Shard and it happens to be a morning it’s time to sample one of their delicious Shard Mimosa or if you’re at home try to mix yourself a fancy pants gin cocktail – what I’m trying to say is alcohol just a strong drink will suffice.

Review

Within the concealing walls of an elegant forty-storey tower block, the affluent tenants are hell-bent on an orgy of destruction. Cocktail parties degenerate into marauding attacks on ‘enemy’ floors and the once-luxurious amenities become an arena for riots and technological mayhem. In this visionary tale of urban disillusionment society slips into a violent reverse as the isolated inhabitants of the high-rise, driven by primal urges, create a dystopian world ruled by the laws of the jungle.

The surprising opening paragraph sets the tone for the entire novella as it trips of the page with a rakish style and casual openness of one who knows there about to enlighten you on society’s basest instinct, “As he sat on his balcony eating the dog, Dr Robert Laing reflected on the unusual events that had taken place within this huge apartment building during the previous three months.” And there you have it in a nutshell.

Within this high-rise prison we have various specific inmates ranging from successful and unsuccessful professional and media types, their pecking order reflected on how high up the apartment block they live.

The primary observer and the novel’s only surviving male, Dr Laing is at first appealing in his aloof nature, treading water by being clever, detached and rather lazy. His relationship with his sister has nuances of a sinister level as the descent of the building gathers pace. Laing choose his survival technique in a clever way with the creation of a new, isolated world which he can control and dominate and one in which he can separate himself from everyone else… he was satisfied by his self-reliance…

We then have Anthony Royal, “king” and architect of the High-Rise, he actually tries to leave the high-rise but doesn’t get further than the bedroom doorway. Ballard’s most ethereal character in the novel, a successful, self-made man who “always wanted his own zoo” he was ready but maybe not completely prepared for the experiment he was to unleash and is in the end the architect of his own demise.

At the bottom of the social ladder on the 2nd floor we have Wilder, the TV producer, who decides to film a documentary on the trials of life in a singular structure. As the social strata breaks in to gangs Wilder begins to feel the weight of the building upon him and as the escalating violence emerges, Wilder decides his fate is to ascend the building and dominate. The further he rises up the building the less he remembers the restraints of civilisation, including his wife and two young sons. Wilder’s actions are the most visceral, assaulting women and taking a delicious glee in doing so.

The most disturbing sector of the high-rise is the women. In the beginning they are either living as ignored wives or casual sex partners descending into a series of polygamy, incest and submissive accepting victims of violation. However, conversely by the time we reach the end of this vile journey a group of the women have occupied the top floors and have started refurbishing it for their own uses and are for want of a better term a family of cannibalistic women girl power indeed

Overall this is Darwin having a party with William Golding and Alex Garland to create an addictive and shocking novel – one of Ballard’s best and one which I can already picture Hiddleston as Dr Laing.

Rating: 9 out of 10

Author Q&A: Hélène Gestern author of ‘The People in the Photo’

HélèneGestern

HélèneGestern author of ‘The People in the Photo,’ which is published today by Gallic Books, talks to me about her debut novel, her inspirations and hints at what’s to come next in French literature.

Your debut novel ‘Eux sur la photo’ has already won 15 literary awards in France, did you expect it to be so successful?</P

Actually, it has won 25 awards to this day. I never expected such a success. I had just written a text and didn’t even think about publication. A friend of mine, who had read the story, convinced me to send it to a publisher. I sent the manuscript by post, the most ordinary way, and I got a positive answer.

Do you feel pressure now to produce an equally successful second novel?

No. When I’m writing, I am totally involved in the project, and I do not think about anything else, neither publication nor success. In truth I refuse to take these dimensions in account. I’ve already published another novel, La Part du feu and I’m completing a third one. Obviously, I’ll be happy if they get as many readers as my debut novel, but that’s not my purpose.

The focus is on family history – are the experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

This story is not mine. It is based on some themes (like silence around past) that sound actually very familiar to me, but they appear in the novel after major transpositions. I do not feel authorized to evoke my relative’s private life.

The leading lady shares your first name is this important/ meaningful in some way?

I suppose it is, even if I didn’t have a long reflection about it. As I said, this text was not aimed to be published and when I wrote it, it was obvious that its narrator should be called Hélène. I’m aware that this creates a strange autobiographical effect, but it was not an intentional one. At the end, I tried to replace this first name by another, but it sounds so unnatural that I preferred to give Hélène her name back.

How and why did you decide to structure the novel as being a series of letters?

The project was entirely based on an epistolary system : the challenge was to tell the story through two voices, two sensibilities, these of a man and a women who have a different look on their parents’ past. I would describe what happens in their memory, their lives and maybe their souls when they discover the truth. Their reactions (to refuse ? to accept ?) were as important for me as the events they discover. In fact, I introduced a third narrator, more neutral : the unknown voice that describes each photograph.

Are photography and the way it documents history something close to your heart?

I’m completely fascinated by photography, and I’ve observed and commented on it for years. I can spend hours in a museum or in a bookshop to look at pictures, observe peoples’ faces and try to guess which message these fragile tracks try to deliver us through years. Paradoxically (and maybe is it the main reason of my interest), I do not own family pictures.

Was the 1970’s a conscious choice for the setting of the original photo?

It was absolutely a conscious choice that the first plot, Pierre and Natalia’s meeting, takes place in the decade preceding May 68. At this time, women were torn between a compelling aspiration to independence, and social rules that prevented them from living on their own. This contradiction was awful and reached a point of no return in France; it was one of the reasons (even if rarely noticed) for social French revolt in May 68. Natalia’s destiny is a sad illustration of it. The People on the Photo is, among other thing, a tribute to this generation of women, and especially to those who sacrificed their dreams under social and family pressure.

What authors/books do you feel have influenced your writing?

As epistolary genre is concerned, certainly Madame de Sévigné, a French Marquess of XVIIth century who wrote thousands of letters to her daughter, Madame de Grignan, and, in another style, Choderlos de Laclos (The Dangerous Liaisons). I also read much poetry when I was younger, and it created a close relationship with language. I read now few novels (I prefer diaries and autobiographies), but admire very much Perec, Sebald or Munoz Molina, because of their art of construction. I am in love with Anne-Marie Garat’s books, a French author whose whole literary work is dedicated to photography; Annie Ernaux, who created a genre between autobiography and sociology, had also and still has a deep influence on me.

What book are you reading now?

Jean-Luc Bénoziglio’s La Pyramide Ronde. The story of a Pharaoh so convinced of his omnipotence that he orders his architect to build a spherical pyramid.

Can you give us an idea of what your next book will be about?

The project I am working on is based on a picture, taken during a tragic event and published in newspapers and on the internet. It destroys the life of the two persons appearing on it. The point is : is any counterattack is possible in the age of the internet ?

What’s your must-have writing snack?

I have none.

I reviewed The People in the Photo and rated it an impressive 9 out of 10. Make sure you buy your copy from Gallic Books from the 17th February.