I LOVE FRANCE
And maybe you do too!
If you have recently read a good book in connection with France,
or watched a movie, read an article on France, etc,
please mention it in the comment section
and add a link to your blog post if you have one.
I will regularly post a recap of all the links mentioned.
If it’s a book review, why not enter it in the 2015 French Bingo?
Velvet Morning Press just released
a short story collection featuring award-winning and best-selling authors
such as Kristopher Jansma and Regina Calcaterra just to name two!
To celebrate the launch, they organized a month-long tour.
I’m honored to be one of the book blogs on this tour.
Long after we’ve left this world, our legacy remains. Or doesn’t. Or remains only in the minds of those who knew us, those whose lives we’ve touched. Those we’ve written to, or about.
If you had a choice, what mark would you leave? How should people remember you? Should they remember you?
Fourteen authors sat down during the month of January 2015, shut out distractions of the outside world and wrote about the subject. The resulting fiction and nonfiction stories fill the pages of “Legacy: An Anthology.” The book includes stories from Kristopher Jansma, winner of the 2014 Sherwood Anderson Award for Fiction, New York Times best-selling author Regina Calcaterra and Canadian best-selling author Marissa Stapley among others.
Buy the book on Amazon
Yesterday, I posted an Excerpt from French author Didier Quémener whose writing I enjoyed a lot in the anthology That’s Paris, also published by Velvet Morning Press.
Executive chef, private chef,
food and wine consultant…
Lived in the U.S., based in Paris: does not wear a beret but eats freshly baked bread every day. Cooked his first meal at age seven, graduated from the Sorbonne, worked as a photographer and finally came back to the kitchen where it all started.
Didier is French and American, therefore obnoxious, a wine snob and speaks loudly!
When Didier is not cooking, he’s writing. When he’s not writing, he’s playing golf. When he is not playing golf, he’s dreaming of being an orchestra conductor, or a guitar player, or…
Back to reality: A husband, a father and a foodie!
Didier contributed to anthologies “Mystery in Mind” and “That’s Paris,” and “Legacy” and is working on a full-length food and wine memoir. You can find him at ChefQParis and FoodMe
Today, I’m thrilled to post this interview with this author:
Tell us a bit about your writing background…
When did you know you wanted to become a writer?
My first piece was published in 2003 in Mystery in Mind – a collection of stories of the paranormal. When I think about it, it’s kind of funny that I was first published in English since I studied Literature and Linguistics in Paris at the Sorbonne, but since I was living in the U.S. at that time, the opportunity presented itself and that’s how it started.
It was also an easy escape for me. Writing in English allowed me to hide behind a foreign language. Almost like an actor on stage playing a role, I was being “someone else” in front of the computer and therefore freed from any shyness or anxiety when it came to creating a story.
Studying in France often requires lots of writing. Starting in high school, our philosophy classes were intense and we had to write 10-page essays about our thoughts and ideas. When you’re under 18, it looks like a mountain that’s way too high to climb! Then I went to college, and those 10-page essays became 15 to 20-page essays… Multiply that by 8 courses, at least 3 times per semester, and quickly you get used to writing a lot!
But becoming a writer is another ballgame. It’s a privilege for me to be included in this anthology, “Legacy,” among such well-known authors! For me, having started with short stories makes sense. It helped me to focus on the structure of the writing process itself, the constraint of the word count, the theme imposed, etc. So I could use my own creativity but still have guidelines to follow. Being a writer allows me to continue my literary life beyond college. I’m going to sound very cliché, but I truly believe that we don’t become writers. Anyone who writes has this instinct and desire within him/herself. We just need to let it flow.
For the “Legacy” anthology, you wrote an epistolary love story. What inspired you to write this sort of story?
When “Legacy” was presented to me, I immediately thought of letters. It’s been a project I wanted to write for a while so I was thrilled to get the opportunity to add the love story element to it!
The inspiration also came from the British band Muse in “Exogenesis: Symphony Part 3 (Redemption)” from the album ‘The Resistance.” To quickly summarize, the concept behind the band’s music and lyrics is to realize that we live in one big cycle in which civilization could come to an end if humanity doesn’t change. And if we don’t recognize our mistakes, they will repeat themselves.
Let’s start over again
Why can’t we start it over again?
Just let us start it over again
And we’ll be good
This time we’ll get it, get it right
It’s our last chance to forgive ourselves
Following this inspiration, Adeline and Augustin, the protagonists of “Letters of the Night” represent this last chance when leaving behind a legacy to humanity in their letters.
What is the significance of legacy for a writer?
My view on legacy leans more toward what we are leaving behind rather than what we are supposed to transmit. In the past, the word “legacy” had a connotation of mission, which to me includes the sense of responsibility. As a writer, what are we supposed to leave in our words? What message are we supposed to write? Those are the primary questions I asked myself when I started “Letters of the Night.”
Then came the idea of the Latin root. Legacy comes from “legare,” meaning to connect, to link, to tie. So I could not help but thinking of a storyline where only two characters would define, one after the other, their idea of attachment to each other.
In general, we tend to forget how lucky we are to read something that was written more than 2,000 years ago! Even in our more than wasteful society, I’d like to think that somehow a part of today’s writing will still be remembered in a couple of centuries.
You also are a personal chef… Do your two careers ever connect in any way?
It’s an everyday connection! And there is only one word for that: creativity. Of course traditional recipes are meant to remain that way, but we, as Chefs, tend to come up with new ideas in order to reach another level of perfection. So we think, invent, create new associations just like when I develop a character.
Before coming up with a new dish, I have a preconceived idea of what I want to taste once it’s complete. It’s like an alchemy process where I know the combination I should use to transform an ordinary recipe into a special one. The same goes for my writing: I know exactly where I want to go, and in the end, I compose the narrative message with the same approach. A simple story could be told in such a magical way that it would become a masterpiece… Poe, Camus, P. Auster are just a few examples of that.
What in general inspires you as a writer?
Music and instruments. They are my first source of inspiration. It could be anything: classical, rock, blues, folk… But in general, outside of classical music, I tend to listen to the lyrics as much as I listen to the music. By listening to the words, I imagine my own personal views of what a song might mean to me. That is the reason why I never watch music videos, the reason why also I stay away from movies that are based upon a book I read. I’d rather read a couple of music sheets and put my mind to work in terms of visualizing what it would represent in my head rather than having to swallow something already made and given to me. For instance, I listen to operas but never watch any performances.
My second source of inspiration is art work. By admiring paintings, I can place quiet images on the noisy sounds that words could make in my head! When I feel the urge to write because inspiration is at 200 percent, I need to take a step back so that this noisy organized chaos in my mind can take place properly. And that’s what time spent looking at paintings is for: It gives me the opportunity to focus accurately on the different themes that I want to write about.
Tell us where else we can find your work… Do you have any other writing projects on the horizon?
You can read my words in the short story anthology “That’s Paris,” both in English and French.
I’m currently working on a food & wine memoir that should be published before the end of this year. And to celebrate the holiday season, I am contributing to another Velvet Morning Press anthology with a Christmas theme!
Thanks Didier for this wonderful interview, looking forward to read more of your writings!
ABOUT VELVET MORNING PRESS
Velvet Morning Press is a boutique publishing house with the goal of discovering new authors and launching their careers. VMP publishes fiction in a variety of categories, short story anthologies and special projects involving new and established authors. Please visit Velvet Morning Press for more information and sign up to find out about new releases at http://eepurl.com/7ht1z.