I am impatient : I cannot wait to bring this story to my readers, and to share this experience with them again. I am lucky to enjoy a close relationship with many of my those who read my work. I receive quite a considerable amount of correspondence, and for the past few months, I can feel the mounting anticipation that surrounds this latest novel, which I would qualfy as different from anything I’ve done before.
I wrote first and foremost for my readers, and I know that word of mouth is at the heart of my success. That’s why before every new novel’s publication, I suffer from a real case of “stage fright,” the way actors do just before the curtain comes up.
I wanted this book to be full of optimism, a feel-good story if you will. Just like that feeling you get sometimes, when you just need to sit in front of a good movie, that you know is going to make you feel good, make us laugh, bring you a taste of adventure and comfort you at the same time..
I wanted it to be a sweeping work of fiction, a cross section of various genres: part thriller, part comedy, part family drama, a coming-of-age tale and a love story all in one. I mostly wanted to create characters that echoed what my feelings are at the moment: men and women resolutely looking ahead, who are making an effort to build a life for themselves rather than trying to escape their destinies or misfortunes.
It’s also the first time you have chosen a woman as your main protagonist…
Yes, the central character at the heart of the story is a 30 year old woman named Gabriella, who lives in San Francisco. She is a woman who learned from her own mistakes, and whose weaknesses and faults I find more endearing than her qualities. She is wounded from being left by the two men in her life, who suddenly reappear after she thought them gone for good.
The book also describes a confrontation between a cop and a famous thief who deals in works of art.
Yes, it was a pleasure writing about the world of art. I have had, for a long time, a true love of “modern” paintings and sculpture. From the impressionists to the monochromatic works of Ryman and Soulages, not to mention of course Van Gogh, Brancusi and Picasso, some of these works have had as much meaning to me as the work of famous novelists.
This passion of mine dates back to the early days of my adolescence, and my discovery of Parisian museums.
The opening scenes of this new book take place in Paris in fact…
It’s true, it’s the first time that France is so present throughout my story!
For a long time, the imaginary world I created worked better within the United States. For complicated reasons, it was more colourful in an American setting. This time, however, the novel starts in my beloved Paris: along the Seine, among the Bouquinistes, at the Musée d’Orsay, through winding cobbled streets near the Montsouris Park. Passing by the quays along the river at two in the morning, you truly realize you are in the most beautiful city in the world!
The story continues in San Francisco, which is, with New York, my favourite city in the States, with its balmy climate, the openness of its inhabitants, and of course, the dream of freedom long associated with California.
The story ends in a mysterious location. Without giving too much away, are we seeing you return to the supernatural register?
The last fifty pages indeed take place in a particular setting, and I can’t wait to see how the readers will interpret it.
For now, I want to reveal as little as possible! I always aim to preserve the pleasure of reading….
Are you happy being labelled as a « popular writer », as you are now known?
More than happy, I’m proud. I feel very privileged to be able to speak to not only those who read one book a year, but to those who read several a week! I always wanted to write novels that can be read by large numbers of readers, without compromising on my aims to address challenging issues in my books. I keep in mind Francois Truffaut’s quote, who wanted to make films that both ‘entertain and elevate’.
With that in mind, I feel a kinship with certain authors and screenwriters of American dramas, who, for the past fifteen years, use the media of television to tackle difficult and painful themes in a ludic manner, such as: Alan Ball, creator of Six Feet Under, Aaron Sorkin of The West Wing fame, J.J. Abrams with Lost, and Michael Crichton with ER.
You publish one book a year. Do you still have time to read?
Fortunately, yes! Reading, and fiction in general, have always played, and will always play, an important part in my life. My favourites of the moment are The English Major by Jim Harrison, and the fascinating Journal of Joyce Carol Oates, which shows how much the roads of creation and writing can be a internal journey full of twists and turns, and mystery.
You talk a lot about your readers. How do you explain the privileged relationship you mentioned earlier ?
I read so much nonsense in articles that tried to explain or rationalise the success of my novels! The most important element is of course this very special relationship, a chemistry that I prefer to experience rather than analyse!