Sunday, June 27, 2021

Gilles Legardinier

Gilles Legardinier writes genre-hopping best sellers in French with more than 2 million copies sold and translations in 20 languages. A novelist, screenwriter, producer, and director, his film industry experience in Los Angeles, London, and Paris ranges from scale model maker and pyrotechnician to marketing/distribution for Warner and Twentieth Century Fox.

Legardinier's new novel is The Paris Labyrinth.

My Q&A with the author:

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

The title The Paris Labyrinth propels you right into the story; it evokes a city and an atmosphere of mystery. The setting and the context of this intrigue are fundamental: it’s the 1889 World’s Fair, the birth of the City of Light, the opening of the Eiffel Tower, in a time when there are a lot of new technologies. People back then feel at a loss, a bit like today, they’re scared by all these changes. Vincent, the protagonist of this story, especially feels it as he is a secret passage maker and is threatened by an invisible power. In this thousands-of-years-old and labyrinthine city, he must unveil the secrets of a mysterious hunt made of riddles, lost knowledge, and hidden places so he can survive. The title is the first step of the journey and already plunges the reader into a universe of adventure and mysteries.

What's in a name?

The name is the first glimpse you get of a character, it’s their calling card. In literature, you only have the words to picture the character in the reader’s mind, no image, and this is why the name becomes so important. A name must strike a chord; it must resonate with what you, personally, profoundly feel about it and what it evokes in the collective imagination. The choice of character names is essential and it’s a step of the work of being an author that I truly enjoy. For The Paris Labyrinth, Vincent, the main character, has a timeless first name indicating a strong and complex personality. Gabrielle, the woman who will change his brother Pierre’s life, has an internationally well-known first name associated with charm.

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

Well, each book is a journey. At the beginning, you present the protagonists and lay the foundations for the action. The ending reveals, explains, and brings everything to a close. These are two really different parts of the story to write, but I don’t really have any preference. It’s just like when you go for a long stroll. At the beginning, you just want to start, even though you know it’s going to end at some point. At the end, you’re sad to leave the adventure, but the memory of it is now a treasure to you. The hardest part, in my opinion, is the one just between those two—when you have to go the distance, not get lost, make sure the people you have invited into your story are comfortable and don’t need anything. I love to take care of the readers!

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

I’m the one who writes, imagines, and feels, but my aim is not to talk about me through the creation of my characters. Of course, since I create them, they’re bound to have my values and be the fruit of my life course, but the part of me in each of them is still very subtle. To me, the most important thing is to tell a sincere story, with coherent and deep characters. I am touched by what my characters live and go through, but they’re each an entity in themselves, they’re not my clones.

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

The teenager I was isn’t dead; he still lives in me in perfect harmony with the adult I became. He helps me to write, he inspires me! He hates to be bored! I love to play, to laugh, and to discover new things. I’m still young in my mind even though my life experience is getting substantial now! I think I would have liked my stories, the sincerity they carry. I remember that, when I was a kid, I already hated people who would take themselves too seriously. I loved those who would talk to me for real, honestly. Whatever we do, we must act and do it with all our hearts but without pretension. Lots of teenagers and young adults read my books and have played a major role in building my success, and this truly makes me happy.

What non-literary inspirations have influenced your writing?

Life! Life inspires me, people, chance meetings, everything I see around me, every day. Art works inspire me as well when they’re sincere and created by authentic personalities: feelings and humor can hardly bear to be industrially manufactured. My stories are the continuation of who I am; I shape my personality a bit more every day with the world around me. I absorb so much from what’s around me, all the time!
Visit Gilles Legardinier's website.

My Book, The Movie: The Paris Labyrinth.

--Marshal Zeringue