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Laurell K. Hamilton - Salon du Livre 2010

Par Aléthia, le mercredi 19 mai 2010 à 12:56:04

An interview with Laurell K. Hamilton - english version

You are now at the Paris Book Fair. How do you feel about meeting your French fans? Did you expect something like that?
It’s wonderful being at the Paris book fair. All the French fans have been so nice. They’ve been very gracious, very patient with my lack of French. I really appreciated that. They were very friendly.
I’ve spoken with Bragelonne members. Even if they expected a lot of people to come, they were quite surprised by the size of the crowd waiting for you.
I get large crowds in the States but you never know. When I am in a new country, I never assume that I will have a crowd waiting for me, but it is wonderful. Certain people waited in line for more than four hours! That’s incredible to me.
In 1993, you gave life to the character of Anita Blake. Is the character of Anita Blake based on yourself or someone you know?
Physically, she’s my size because I knew there would be a lot of guns and fighting so if I made her bigger than me I would have had to borrow people to see if the weapons fitted. By making her my size, I could see if they fitted in my hand and if I could do it physically I figured that she could do it.
She also has my stubbornness and her voice is close to mine because it is a first person narration. It’s easier to write if the voice is closer to yours. I gave her some of my background, the early death of her mother tragically. This is a tragedy I share with her. This is too big a part of me. At that time, when I started writing, we were closer. As time passes, I got married, started living in the suburbs, had a child and a small dog, she has gone on dating more men (probably more men than it is really possible!) and her kill count is higher than the ones of more warlords so we have diverged. But we also have grown up together too. When we started the books, I felt the world was very black and white and so did she, and we both grew older and wiser and I found out that it is really grey sometimes.
With Charlaine Harris, you are the emblematic writers of this literary genre we call ‘Bit-lit’. Many critics have their own definition of what ‘Bit-lit’ is. But what is yours?
I don’t know. I think ‘Bit-Lit’ just need a supernatural character (vampires, werewolves, one author even writes on gargoyles ….), the main character is female with guts. For me, Anita is a vampire executioner and US Marshall. She hunts the monsters but she dates the monsters which creates a conflict of interests. But the definition seems to be broad enough to be mainstream, modern day with supernatural elements and usually strong romantic themes. My books also express a strong sexual context but it is not the case for all the books. The main character is usually human, or perceived as weaker than the monsters. That seems to be all.
Some people are quite prejudiced against ‘Bit-lit’ novels, saying for example that they are too girly. What would you say to convince a skeptic of the interests of ‘Bit-lit’ novels?
Well, there is nothing really girly about mine. I can’t speak for anybody else. For the last book published in the States, I went to Las Vegas and interviewed and got to see the weaponry of the Las Vegas S.W.A.T. Not very girly! To be going out looking for big guns … I’ve never felt so short! All these guys were so tall. You have to stay fit to stay in the team, so they trained a lot and are very muscular and I felt so small. So I’ve also talked to police officers, I’ve done research on real serial killers … again, not very girly! The perception that it is a literature for women is erroneous. I can’t speak for everybody but I know that I have a lot of male fans. The men love the action, the mystery, the details about how the police work and the sex! And women like the same things as men even if some of them prefer the romance, the sexual content. But I’ve actually been told by some male readers that they thought I was a man writing under a female pseudonym because I offer a much more masculine view of things. All you have to do, is take a passage, read it out loud, and nobody will ever accuse you again of reading chick-lit!
You depicted Anita Blake as a strong-minded, determined woman. Do you feel such a character can empower women?
Yes, because I’ve lost count of the number of women that told me they learned to be strong from reading Anita. I’ve really have lost count of the number of women who told me they got rid of abusive relationships because Anita wouldn’t take it. I’m really proud of that! That was purely coincidental. I had no idea my imaginary friend would become so important to other people. Some readers told me that when they are in a bad situation they wonder what Anita would do and they know that Anita wouldn’t flinch and that she’s gonna be brave so they try to find a way to be brave too. Courage is not lack of fear, courage is doing it even though you are afraid. That’s what true courage is. And fro some people, the books help them find that. That was an unintended consequence. When I am asked why did I make Anita so strong I answer that I did not know there was another choice. I was raised to learn that if you are not strong you are a victim so it never occurred to me to be anything else.
In the Anita Blake series, you created a constructed and solid background. You were among the first to introduce vampires and shape shifters within a visible and legal structure. You also created the powerful Church of Eternal Life. Where did you get your inspiration from?
What has always interested me is taking the fantastic, bring it to real life and see what happens. Most writers say they take the mundane and make it fantastic. I take the fantastic and make it mundane. I say: what if werewolves were absolutely real? What then? I don’t know why anybody hadn’t done it., it just seems so obvious to me and so much fun.
About the Church of Eternal life. If vampires were for real. Most people no longer believe in the mortality of soul. People are less religious and I thought, if a church of vampires could guarantee you would never die, you would stay eternally youthful and you just lose daylight and have to adopt a liquid diet… people would do it. It would work, as a church, because people are spending thousands of thousands of dollars just to stay young. I think we would be frighten of what people could do.
About the solid background. I believe you have to make sure the world you’re creating is concrete solid because out somewhere, there is an expert on what you’re writing. There is always an expert and if you write something wrong, you will hear from these people. So that’s why I try to interact with all the weapons Anita uses and I talk a lot with police officers or people from the military to be grounded in reality.
The 11th novel in the Anita Blake series, Cerulean Sins has just come out in France. What can readers expect from this installment and from the ones to come? What can you tell us of the future of the series?
I’m always bad at this! I will try not to give things away! You can expect more mystery, more violence and more body counts and more men. Hard as it is to believe, we are not done collecting men! I really think we’ve almost reach the point where it is hard just to store the men. They are nice guys for most of them and they deserve time and attention but there is only one Anita! As the story continues, I am hoping either the men will share even better or some of them will pick a girlfriend. I don’t know how that will go though. I don’t know if a girlfriend would like to share like that. The world will also continue to grow and expand. I continue to find new things for the books, I continue my research so the world just keep growing. There will be more shapeshifters, more vampire politics, more society and Anita will continue to grow as a character and she is beginning to get happier. This is the beginning of her finding the way to accept her life, accept the things she cannot change and embrace what she has and learn to value it.
One of your other series, Meredith Gentry, will be published in France in about a month. Could you introduce this new series to your French readers?
Mary Gentry is a private detective is Los Angeles. She is also an American fairy princess. The only one ever born in the New World. She is fifth in line for one part of the crown and third in line for the other and it does her no good at all. I’ve done research and in the real royalty, you usually have a title and not much else. I wanted to show that being a fairy princess is not easy. You also have the modern world and I can’t help it … the men, the romance! It’s also a political thriller with mystery. After writing Anita for so long, I wanted someone would wouldn’t argue with me as much and Mary is much more easy going.
What are the similarities and the differences that can be drawn between Anita and Meredith?
Meredith is actually three inches shorter than Anita! They both don’t see themselves as attractive. They think other people are prettier. They are both very strong women. Mary is less likely to grab a gun, start shooting and save herself. She will save herself but she is quite happy to let bodyguards and men help. Her job is to stay alive long enough to have an heir and reach the throne. Anita is more conflicted about what happens in life, she is struggling against it while Mary accepts life more like it is.
Do you write in music? And could you give us some artists or titles you listen to while writing?
I’m listening to music while I work, always. For each book, I will pick an album or a type of music and play that. Sometimes when I’m having trouble writing I pick up a musical to listen to and when it is a really bad writing day, I listen to Christmas Carroll! Most days, I will listen things like Disturbed, Godsmack …
  1. Un entretien avec Laurell K. Hamilton - version française
  2. An interview with Laurell K. Hamilton - english version

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