Where were you born, and where did you grow up?
I was born in the outskirts of Paris, and I grew up in Boston, Massachusetts, and in Paris, France.
What sorts of books were in your family home?
My father who is French read scientific books, but he loved Jules Verne, and my mother who is British initiated me to Daphné du Maurier.
Who were early formative influences as a writer?
Anne Frank, Edgar Poe, Enid Blyton, C.S Lewis.
Do you write every day, and do you write many drafts?
I write every day, even on holiday, and I revise my work constantly, so I’m not sure how many drafts that would be?
As an author, what are you most proud (or embarrassed) of writing?
I always tend to think that my next book is going to be better than the rest. But I have a soft spot for Manderley Forever.
Books that changed your life?
I’m a bookworm and have been so since I was 10 years old, so I would say that reading in general has changed my life, and has made me want to be a writer. But I guess Rebecca by Daphné du Maurier was crucial.
Your views on book publishing?
It’s a tough world.
How important were, and are, editors? Have you had much encouragement from your editor(s)?
The relationship between a writer and an editor is a bit like a love story, it can be beautiful, and then it can turn bitter. But the most important thing is finding an editor who believes in you. And your voice. And that isn’t always easy.
Which is more important, style or voice?
I think both are equally important. I recently read the most beautiful novel about geology, which certainly wasn’t a subject that fascinated me, but it was such an extraordinary read that I loved it.
Your views on the explosion of creative writing courses? How helpful are they?
I live in France, and I guess they’re not as popular yet here as they are in the UK or in the USA. But I know several people who have attended and who ended up publishing great books.
What are your favorite literary journals?
The New Yorker and The Paris Review.
How well are your books received abroad in translation?
I write my books in English and in French, and I have recently decided to translate myself from one to the other, so that’s quite a adventure. My books are well received in Scandinavia, Holland, France, where I live, and in the USA.
Your views on how new technology has (or has not) changed your writing life? What about social media?
One of my books, The Other Story, explores how a young writer spends far too much time on social media, and therefore can’t write his new book. I think most writers need to work in a quiet space, away from social media , at least that’s my case. But Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook can be useful for promoting your work afterwards, as well as promoting the work of other authors.
If you could go anywhere in time for one day, where would you go and why?
If I had to choose, I would pick the roaring twenties in Paris, in Montparnasse. I recently wrote Tamara de Lempicka’s life, and it sounded so wild and so amazing, I would have loved to have been a little fly on her wall!
Your favourite prose authors?
Virginia Woolf, the Brontës, Oscar Wilde, Zola, Maupassant, Modiano, Fitzgerald, Ian McEwan, Margaret Atwood, Katherine Mansfield . . . and many more.
Your favourite Noir series?
True Detective* and Sharp Objects.**
Favourite feature films?
Barry Lyndon, Some Like it Hot, Call me by your name, Psycho.
Five favourite bands?
The Cure, Depeche Mode, America, London Grammar, ABBA.
Your chief characteristic?
Your bedside reading?
Modiano’s Nobel Prize speech.
When in doubt, throw out.
*The American anthology crime drama television series created and written by Nic Pizzolatto.
**The American psychological thriller television miniseries based on Gillian Flynn’s debut novel Sharp Objects that premiered on HBO in July 2018.
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