Interview For Maclehose Press

The English edition of your book has a very different cover and a different title to the French version – how do you feel about them? And do they make you think differently about the book?

I am very fond of the title, actually. Farid, the Black Angel, is not the sleuth who drives the story but, from my point of view, a very important character anyway. I remember a visit I did in a French penitentiary. I was supposed to talk about my books in front of a group of inmates. It was a first for me and I was a little bit tense. It was very early in the morning and I did not know if those men had the slightest interest in my stories. After my talk, a young guy asked me a lot of questions about Farid and the character’s genesis. I could sense that the character sincerely moved him and that he found Farid quite realistic. Coming from a young man who did not have a long experience with books, I was impressed.

Regarding the cover, I like the style and the energy it conveys. I guess that the readers will get an immediate sense of the differences between Ingrid and Lola. Also, I must admit that I am a bit worried. I hope that readers will not file me into the “chick lit’” category. For example, I like the work of Mo Hayder or Natsuo Kirino very much and hope that potential readers will not miss that, since the Ingrid and Lola series has been from the beginning an attempt to mix drama and comedy. Nowadays, especially with the last two novels, the stories have taken a darker turn.

Have you read any of the translations of your novels? What is it like to read them?

Although I’ve had some texts translated before, The Dark Angel is the first of my novels to be entirely translated into English. I read Nick Caistor’s translation thoroughly and was really impressed and satisfied with it. I think that Nick worked very hard to convey my personal writing style and the peculiar ambiance portrayed in my novels. For me, the story is of course important, but the actual writing is essential as well. I don’t want to be just a storyteller. Literature is an adventure, which implies a degree of risk taking. I’ve read several authors directly in English, such as Zadie Smith, Jo Nesbø (very well translated from Norwegian to English) or the late Iain Banks. Too many to count.

Where did you get the ideas for your characters, especially Ingrid and Lola?

Lola was inspired by my mother-in-law, who is generous but somewhat stubborn, and her cousin Violette, who is a plump, courageous and impressive woman. For Ingrid, I had Claire Danes in mind, due to her being both beautiful and having a friendly temper. This was years before her recent work in Homeland, although my opinion hasn’t changed.

Can you imagine a film or a TV adaptation of this book (and this series)? Which would you prefer, a film or a TV show?

Passage du Désir (The Dark Angel) was adapted for French TV with Muriel Robin in the lead role. That said, I sometimes envision my two girls on the silver screen, or perhaps in an American or British TV show. I am an avid fan of TV shows like Breaking Bad, Luther, Dexter and so on. But I know it’s still only a dream at this point.

You lived for some time in Japan. What was that like? And do you think it has any impact on Passage du Désir?

I lived ten years in Tokyo. It was fantastic for many reasons. I appreciate the Japanese sense of beauty, their humility and stubbornness. Life can be difficult but it seems to me that Japanese people have an interesting way of coping. They don’t wait for the holidays to forget everything like Westerners often do, but savour the little moments of friendship and relaxation as they come. People who can be Shinto and Buddhist at the same time show a remarkable mental agility, don’t they?

It rains a lot in my novels (and beautifully so, like in Asia) and there are references here and there about Asian cultures. Tokyo is the place where I started to write, so yes, its impact on my writing will remain significant for the foreseeable future.

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