Saturday, September 5, 2020

Q&A with Antoine Laurain

Antoine Laurain is the author of the new novel The Readers' Room. His other books include Vintage 1954 and The President's Hat. He lives in Paris.

Q: How did you come up with the idea for The Readers' Room?

A: The idea first came from the title – I wondered what a novel with that title would be like. And I wanted to write about the power of books and to play with the idea of what would happen if what was written in a novel came to pass? Could there be an explanation for that? The final page of The Readers’ Room does not exactly explain, but it provides an intriguing possibility.

Q: The Publishers Weekly review of the book begins, "A profound love of books and authors underpins this sprightly mystery from Laurain..." Would you agree with that assessment?

A: The review is approving so from that point of view I agree! The book is indeed underpinned by a profound love of books. It is also the portrait of an exceptional and mysterious woman, Violaine Lepage. The manuscript of Sugar Flowers turns up to avenge her, and to liberate her from her past. It is also a crime novel, especially in the second half.

Q: In our previous interview, you said that “often the characters decide for the writer” what will happen in the story. Was that true with this book?

A: It is always true in my books, so yes, it was true with this book. It is a strange phenomenon to witness. I think it comes from the intimacy created between author and characters during the writing process.

Q: What are some of your favorite mystery novels?

A: I like an eclectic selection of mystery novels. The works of Edgar Allan Poe, Perez-Reverte, Stephen King, Ruth Rendell; and also the movies of David Lynch, Paul Schrader and of course, Hitchcock.

Q: What are you working on now?

A: I’m working on another novel! And when I’m not doing that, I’m working in my garden.

Q: Anything else we should know?

A: During lockdown, Her Royal Highness, The Duchess of Cornwall, Camilla, published a list of her 10 favorite novels. She included my novel The Red Notebook. I was the only French author. It is a great honor for me to have such a loyal English-language readership throughout the world.

--Interview with Deborah Kalb. Here's a previous Q&A with Antoine Laurain.

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