Tuesday, 28 March 2017
#AuthorInterview #AndreeAMichaud #Boundary @NoExitPress
I have had the absolute privilege of interviewing Andree A Michaud today about her latest novel "Boundary" - her first to be translated into English - which was published by No Exit Press on the 23rd March 2017.
Michaud is touring the UK for a fortnight promoting the publication of her book and will be appearing at the Tottenham Court Road Waterstones this evening (28th March) alongside 3 other international authors to talk further about her writing so if you can, do pop along and see her there!
(Waterstones Events: International Indies Evening)
Here's the blurb about Boundary......
Where deep woods cover the Maine border, blending together two countries and two languages, the summer of 1967 is a time of fear. Teenage beauties Sissy Morgan and Zaza Mulligan wander among the vacation cottages in the community of Boundary, attracting the attention of boys and men, before they're found gruesomely murdered — felled by long-dead woodsman's bear traps. Andrée, the little girl whose name nobody can pronounce, watches the police investigate, unaware of how profoundly these events will impact her passage into womanhood.
Reminiscent of Scandinavian thrillers by Asa Larsson, Henning Mankell, and others, Boundary was a crossover hit when first published in the French, winning both the Governor General's Award for literature and the Arthur Ellis Prize for mystery novels. By weaving a tale of unbearable suspense and meticulously evoked atmosphere, Michaud transforms endless forests, haunted people, and primal terror into an irresistibly gripping summer read.
But without further digression, let me get on and share with you my interview with the charming Andree who was so kind to meet with me despite still reeling from the summer clock change in Quebec, jet lag and then the clock change here!
Andree, welcome along to Bibliomaniac's Blog and thank you for joining me today!
First can I just ask you about the stunning front cover for Boundary. Was this something you were involved with?
It's all the clever work of the publishers No Exit Press! They produced it all and I just loved it! We went through about 16 versions but funnily enough this was the very first design we had looked at and it was the one that we felt worked best for the book. Some of the covers had been bolder colours and had images of girls on them, or a more summery scene but this cover seemed to capture the atmosphere and style of the book the best. I am thrilled with it.
And the book has been translated - was that something you were involved in at all?
No! I'm not clever enough for that! I was lucky enough that the translator the publishers chose had a very good reputation and had won prizes for their translated work. To be honest, you just have to 'let go' a bit; trust and have confidence in them, My translator was very open to changes and it was a real partnership so I was lucky.
The book is set in1967. Is there a particular reason why you chose 1967?
It's the time of my own childhood - my beautiful childhood- so it is a time I can easily recall and is very vivid to me. It didn't feel like I had to research any historical details or check too many things because even though 1967 is in the past, it's my past and my history - well, to me it's just my life, not history at all! The end of the 60s is also a time where society was beginning to change from being very traditional to more free and this echoes some of the themes about frontiers and boundaries which the novel explores.
The location of the novel is the most impressive bit of the novel - and the biggest character. Is it a real place?
Yes, it is a real place. I used to go there with my father when I was a child. In those days there were only 2 or 3 cabins so it hadn't grown into such a big holiday destination and was mainly for hunters - my father never hunted there while I was with him, but we went to stay there a lot. A while ago I was staying in a cabin somewhere else and suddenly I caught a scent of something in the air - something that took me right back to Boundary. The smell had triggered my memories of the place and I knew I wanted to write about it.
To me, it is always the location that inspires the story. I spend a long time thinking, watching, looking, listening at a place. Then gradually I begin to put characters in to the scenery and begin to shape the story but it is always the place first - location and nature are incredibly important to me and the natural world in particular is an incredible inspiration.
Once you've chosen your location, how do you then plan your novel? In Boundary the story is organised into five or six sections each named after characters, and then within those sections it is split into days. There is a real mix of long chapters and short chapters. Did you plan this from the beginning?
No, I did it all at the end! I wrote my story first; wrote, wrote and wrote. Then I took my first draft and looked at the sections and chapter length then. I often go through 2, 3, 4 or maybe 5 drafts so there is time to reshape the narrative then - the first thing is just to get the story out. Once I have my location, I write. I don't often know the shape or where the novel might take me until I am writing.
I noticed that you use both your names "Andree" and "Michaud" in the novel. This was obviously deliberate!
Yes, I do like doing that - and I am by no means the first and only author to do this! It's me playing a little; reminding the reader that the writer is behind every character. It's a little game.
How would you define the genre of Boundary?
It's a crime novel but not in the classic sense. I wanted to write a book that used some of the framework and devices of the crime genre, but adapt it to make it something more universal. I wanted to write something that was larger than a crime story. I wanted to write a book that showed us nature always wins. We can't own nature and it will always win.
There is quite a lot of brutal language in the book and some violent scenes. How did you find writing those passages?
They were difficult obviously, particularly as I was writing about young girls. But as an author, you have to distance yourself from what you are writing. You have to remind yourself it's in the book, not in your life. And I walk. Walk, walk and walk- and think about everything except for the book!
Can you tell me a bit about your writing day?
I like to write in the morning and then I can spend the rest of the day with other things - including my 'real' job. In the afternoon I like to redraft, reshape, reread or leave things for the next day. I don't have a set word limit to get through each day, I sit down and write and see how I get on.
And I have to ask, who are your literary inspirations? Which writers have influenced your writing?
Marguerite Duras - the french writer (1914-1996) (wikipedia Marguerite_Duras) and Virginia Woolf (1882-194) - Woolf is a genius. I would love to reread and reread and reread her novels but I never have enough time. (wikipedia- Virginia_Woolf)
Are you reading anything at the moment?
I have brought 10 books in my suitcase and not opened one yet! I just never seem to have the time to read!
And finally, what questions might you put to a book group who were reading Boundary?
Oh, I might need to think about that a bit! I think I would ask them to think about the relationships between the characters - or how they related to the characters. I would also want them to talk about themes like nature, the role nature in the story and location. I guess another theme to discuss could be madness.
Thank you so much Andree, it has been such a pleasure to meet with you and hear more about Boundary and your writing. It's given me more insight into the novel and I can hear your authorial voice as you answered my questions! Thank you so much and good luck with the rest of your book tour!
My enormous thanks to Ion, Maddy, Flossie and Claire at No Exit Press for offering me this opportunity to interview Andree. I have really enjoyed meeting with the author of such a unique novel!
You can read my review of Boundary here
For more reviews and recommendations follow me on Twitter @katherinesunde3