Thursday, June 18, 2020

Margaux DeRoux

Margaux DeRoux was born in Juneau, Alaska. Before turning to fiction she was a waitress, a teacher, and a marketer. She now lives in California with her husband and daughter.

Her new novel is The Lost Diary of Venice.

My Q&A with the author:

How much work does your title do to take readers into the story?

My title, The Lost Diary of Venice, includes several key elements of the story: the book is a dual-narrative, with one plot-line set in Renaissance Venice, the other in modern-day Connecticut, and a diary links both time-periods together. The novel was inspired by a treatise I’d discovered, written by a sixteenth-century artist who was going blind. I’d initially titled the book The Science of Shadows, after a line in his text. My agent and editor, however, both felt that this was a bit too dark, and didn’t convey the romantic qualities of the novel. I agree, and am so happy they helped me come up with a title that’s a much better fit for a historical-fiction romance!

How surprised would your teenage reader self be by your new novel?

My teenage self would not be surprised at all by the fact that I wrote a novel! I was very creative in High School, and actually got in quite a lot of trouble for skipping class to paint and write and make short films—all of which centered on themes of love, loss, and the struggle to find one’s place in the world. As an adult, though, I put my creativity aside for a long time. I thought I needed to find “a real job.” Eventually, I realized that I would never feel truly alive unless I was expressing myself creatively.

Do you find it harder to write beginnings or endings? Which do you change more?

With a dual-narrative, the ending is particularly challenging: as the book progresses, the stories intertwine and influence one another. There are two sets of loose threads, and they need to be tied up in a way that makes the novel feel like a cohesive whole. On top of this, I personally always want to create endings that are satisfying—but aren’t what a reader might anticipate. With romance in particular, I think it’s important to reflect the way that love can surprise us, how our hearts can change and soften in unexpected ways.

Do you see much of yourself in your characters? Do they have any connection to your personality, or are they a world apart?

I think aspects of self surface always surface in one’s writing, if not consciously, then subconsciously. One character in my novel is an introvert and a bookworm, another is an artist—all qualities I can claim. The love stories in each time-period are bittersweet, and reflect my own past experiences.

At the same time, writing also offers us the chance to explore perspectives other than our own. The villain in my novel is a zealot, for example—to craft him, I drew upon interactions I’ve had with religious extremists. Yet whether they’re living five hundred years ago or today, every character is subject to the constancy of human nature, and our eternal quest for love and fulfillment.

What non-literary inspirations have influenced your writing?

Music influences me greatly. I naturally find myself listening to different types of music when writing different characters; for me, music is transportive, and changing artists helps me shift perspectives. I often wonder what other authors listen to when they write—I’d love it if books included soundtracks!
Follow Margaux DeRoux on Twitter.

--Marshal Zeringue