With the success of Andrzj Sapkowski in the David Gemmell Legend Award, it's gone to show that Fantasy Fan's are more than willing to give foreign authors a swing of the broadsword.
Backed up by Gollancz's mission statement to increase the options of foreign authors from 1% to 5% this year has brought us recently Pierre Pevel, one of the premiere Fantasy Authors in France today. In his first offering we have a touch of Dumas blended with the mystical elements of Dragons and Magic which is sure to be a hit with fans the world over so we thought it was high time that we crossed swords with him to find out a few things from how he gets his idea's to his must own books...
Falcata Times: Writing is said to be something that people are afflicted with rather than gifted and that it's something you have to do rather than want. What is your opinion of this statement and how true is it to you?
Pierre Pevel: Good question. Frankly, writing is more or less the only thing I know how to do. So from that point of view, writing was an inevitable choice for me. On the other hand, I don’t really feel a need to write. More a need to invent stories and tell them. I could be quite happy writing scripts for cinema or bande dessinée. But regardless of that, I do try to take pains with matters of style.
FT: When did you realise that you wanted to be a writer?
PP: The first time I was actually paid for a text I wrote. It seemed like a very good deal to me.
FT: It is often said that if you can write a short story you can write anything. How true do you think this is and what have you written that either proves or disproves this POV?
PP: I’m not very confortable writing short texts. I’ve only written two short stories in my whole life. That’s all. In my opinion, writing a short story only proves that you can write a short story.
FT: If someone were to enter a bookshop, how would you persuade them to try your novel over someone else's and how would you define it?
PP: I write historical novels in which fantasy intervenes. The Cardinal’s Blades is a cloak-and-dagger novel… with dragons. I wrote it with the idea that the reader would start on page 1, read the whole way through, and in the end have the feeling that it was too short.
FT: How would you "sell" your book in 20 words or less?
PP: Uhh… That’s pretty much what I just did, isn’t it?
FT: Who is a must have on your bookshelf and whose latest release will find you on the bookshops doorstep waiting for it to open?
PP: Everyone’s personal library should include The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas. That’s a must. Other than that, I never miss a new novel by James Lee Burke.
FT: When you sit down and write do you know how the story will end or do you just let the pen take you? ie Do you develop character profiles and outlines for your novels before writing them or do you let your idea's develop as you write?
PP: I don’t start writing until I know the story and the characters down to the smallest detail. In order to do that, I write an extremely elaborate script. That takes me several months. In fact, I consider that I carry out two jobs. First, that of a scriptwriter, when I imagine the story. Then that of the novelist, when I recount it.
FT: What do you do to relax and what have you read recently?
PP: To relax, I play with one of my game consoles, I watch TV series, I read, or I play with my cats.
FT: What is your guiltiest pleasure that few know about?
PP: My soul is pure and without blemish. All of my pleasures in life are virtuous and laudable.
FT: Lots of writers tend to have pets. What do you have and what are their key traits (and do they appear in your novel in certain character attributes?)
PP: I have cats. Three of them. And they’re just like any cats. A human character who had a cat’s personality would be unbearable, but that might be an idea that’s worth pursuing…
FT: Which character within your latest book was the most fun to write and why?
PP: Marciac. He’s wily, courageous, a gambler, a drinker, a womaniizer and… in love.
FT: How similar to your principal protagonist are you?
PP: I don’t think I resemble my characters in the slightest. They are much, much braver than me. And I don’t possess any of their talents.
FT: What hobbies do you have and how do they influence your work?
PP: My passion for TV series has certainly influenced me. The narrative techniques employed in modern series are highly effective, and I try to find literary equivalents in my writing.
FT: Where do you get your idea's from?
PP: I shut myself up in my office… and I search for them.
FT: Do you ever encounter writer’s block and if so how do you overcome it?
PP: I sometimes have trouble imagining a given turn of events in the plot of a novel. The only way to overcome the obstacle is to keep on looking and looking until I find THE right idea that unblocks everything. But once I’ve finished the scenario, the actual writing of the novel usually advances at a steady pace. For me, sheer laziness is a much bigger danger than blank page syndrome.
FT: Certain authors are renowned for writing at what many would call uncivilised times. When do you write and how do the others in your household feel about it?
PP: My days are all more or less alike. I wake up at noon. I work in the afternoons until evening. And I return to work after midnight. I get to bed around 3 am and I read until I fall asleep.
FT: Sometimes pieces of music seem to influence certain scenes within novels, do you have a soundtrack for your tale or is it a case of writing in silence with perhaps the odd musical break in-between scenes?
PP: I don’t generally listen to music much, and certainly not when I’m writing, or even thinking. I need complete silence.
FT: What misconceptions, if any, did you have about the writing and publishing field when you were first getting started?
PP: I believed that a book’s success depended solely on its quality. And I also believed that the work was basically done when you finished writing the book.
FT: If music be the food of love, what do you think writing is and please explain your answer?
PP: Writing is a painless way to earn a living. And you can even derive satisfactions from it other than financial gain.
FT: What can you tell us about the next novel?
PP: The sequel to The Cardinal’s Blades has already been published in France. I think the title in English will be The Alchemist in the Shadows. I can tell you that the Blades take up service again to counter a threat to the French throne and that an old enemy resurfaces.
FT: What are the last five internet sites that you've visited?
PP: Wikipedia, Playboystore.com, Amazon.co.uk, Gamespot.com, Menstyle.fr.
FT: Did you ever take any writing classes or specific instructions to learn the craft? If so please let us know which ones.
PP: I learned my craft all on my own, by practicing it. There’s no secret involved. In order to write well, you need to keep on writing.
FT: How did you get past the initial barriers of criticism and rejection?
PP: From the moment you’ve been published, you know your work will be judged. If you find this intolerable, you should seek another line of employment. The most annoying sort of bad reviews, in my view, are the ones that seem to lack sincerity. Other than that, I recognise that everyone has the right not to like what I do. I’d rather receive good reviews than bad ones, but they don’t stop me from sleeping at night.
FT: In your opinion, what are the best and worst aspects of writing for a living?
PP: It’s a lonely job, and it’s a lonely job.