The Miracle Ladies by Jean-Michel Désiré Genre: Supernatural Thriller
Apostles and a man who calls himself the Redeemer … a scenario pointing to the promised return of Jesus-Christ, except that way above all prophecies and expectations, no one anticipated a series of miracles by women worldwide. Faced with the ultimate puzzle, the Vatican recruits academics Krystelle Vignelot and Guillermo Ricci for help in understanding the perplexity of the events.
Observers, protectors, academics, a covert medical facility, a concealed endeavor, and a gun-for-hire with the self-assigned nickname of Ghost will clash in the race to demystify the unexplainable, but miracles are by definition contrary to the laws of nature and attributed to supernatural causes. And so, allegiances and non-believers alike face the ultimate test of faith.
But even the darkest facet of the human heart could not foresee the events that would climax in Rio de Janeiro, a huge light and sound shadow that the world would remember forever because of the miracle ladies.
Jean-Michel Désiré was born on the magnificent tropical island of Mauritius, where he completed his primary and secondary studies in compulsory bilingual French and English languages. An acute love of reading combined with a great interest in art (drawing and painting) pushed Jean-Michel from a young age to want to write his own comic books, but a lack of opportunity blocked his efforts. It was this same lack of opportunity of the time that triggered a need to perform further studies. At age 22, Jean-Michel left Mauritius for North London, England, where he completed a bachelor of Engineering in Electronics followed by a Master of Philosophy in Microelectronics.
While concluding his Master’s degree, Jean-Michel met the lady who became his wife a year later, year during which they also moved to Montreal Canada where Jean-Michel had been offered an engineering position in the Aerospace industry. Life had its own agenda, and within the first eighteen months, their daughter was born in the middle of a snow storm in Montreal. Six years later, their son came into the world and the obvious demands of family life became the main priorities.
During the winter of 2008, Jean-Michel slipped on the ice during a storm and fractured his ankle in multiple locations. Recovering at home after surgery, Jean-Michel decided that the time had come to revive his passion for writing. Within two years, his first book ‘The Storyteller’s Nights’ was published. The positive feedback from readers fueled Jean-Michel to exploit his bilingualism and he translated the story into French, ‘Les Nuits du Conteur’ being published in 2015. He then felt the wind in his sails and published ‘Fantasy Man’ in 2017, and recently, ‘Revanche (Revenge)’ (the follow-up to ‘Les Nuits du Conteur’) in 2019. ‘Fantasy Man’ is presently nominated for an award, top ten finalist to be announced on 22 August 2019. He has just completed his next English book, entitled ‘The Miracle Ladies’.
Engineer by day, writer by night, Jean-Michel plans to keep letting his imagination go wild while capturing it all on paper. Surrounded by a great family, he plans to write a whole lot more. When he is not writing, he spends quality time with his family and travels yearly back to Mauritius to visit his Mom and brothers.
If you're interested in getting in touch with Jean-Michel, the best place to reach him is on Goodreads.
Can you, for those who don't know you already, tell something about yourself and how you became an author?
As a teenager growing up in the island of Mauritius, I was fascinated by the adventures of Tintin and Asterix, as well as the Marvel or DC Comics superheroes. There were unfortunately no opportunities whatsoever at the time for me to even get interest for potential publication at the time. Years went by and the usual events of life happen (boy meets girl, courting, marriage, kids are born… etcetera) until that unforgettable day in 2008. It was one of those lousy Canadian winter days in Montreal, cold, ice-rain while there was already over a foot of snow on the ground. Some colleagues and I had agreed to meet for lunch at a restaurant outside our workplace. Being the first to get to the restaurant, I step out of the car, slip on the ice and fracture my ankle in three places. Two days later, with ten titanium screws as well as a titanium plate inside my right ankle, I was set for seven weeks of recovery at home. Stuck mostly on the sofa, but grateful for my wife’s care and patience, I realized that if there was any writing to be done, it was then or never. It still took me almost two years before I finished my first book, ‘The Storyteller’s Nights’. Feedback was great as can be seen from readers’ comments on Amazon.ca. There was even some beginning of interest from ‘Principal Entertainment’ to consider financing for the movie, but it never materialized. I am lucky enough to have been brought up in a fully bilingual environment (French and English), and decided that my next step would be to translate the book myself. I spent a lot of time enquiring about translation services but when I found out that the best deal I could get was at six cents per word, and that one hundred and twenty thousand words would cost me $7200, I figured that there was a good reason why I was bilingual. In addition, I have read quite a few books in both languages, as I wanted to evaluate for myself how well books were translated. Although professional translators do a great job, I found that sometimes some essential elements of the story would get lost in translation. So, I translated the story myself and the French version ‘Les Nuits du Conteur’ was published in 2015 (NB: An updated edition from a new editor is coming out in a few weeks. I decided on this new edition to match the format with its follow-up, ‘Revanche’ (Revenge) which contains pictures of Mauritius, giving a clearer idea to the reader of where the adventure is taking place.). From then on, I had started to build confidence and better understand the writing industry and trade. ‘Fantasy Man’ was published in 2017 and ‘Revanche’ (Revenge) in June 2019. My fourth book, ‘The Miracle Ladies’ was published in April 2020, but COVID hindered any marketing that I had in mind at the time. I have also completed the translation into French of ‘Fantasy Man (Monsieur Fantaisie)’, which will also be released in September 2020. My next goals are: (i) to complete the translation of ‘Revanche’, as well as start the translation of ‘The Miracle Ladies’ into French. Hopefully, they’ll be published in 2021. After that, I’m not sure of what will come since there are too many ideas and not enough time.
What is something unique/quirky about you? I tend to be a bit of a recluse, a hermit at times, especially when I’m at home. Yet, in my work environment, I am seen as being the go-to person for a laugh, and this has given me the reputation of ‘the Joker’ at work. So, this duality is sometimes questioned. I try to explain that at work, although it is still facets of my true-self that come out, I am also faced with a multitude of people and characters within a short space of time and whether I like it or not, in the end and for the good of all, I have to be a team player. While this reasoning is also true of me at home and surrounded by my loved ones, I find that this part of my life requires a whole lot more understanding and patience for me to properly support the needs of the family. As such, it is less of a joker’s environment and more one of great responsibility. It is understood that despite this adapted approach, we still have incredible moments of laughter at home.
Tell us something really interesting that's happened to you! Perhaps the strangest thing that happened to me was a recurring dream I had, whereby I had to face seven masked people in a glade. They wore robes similar to those worn by monks, ad had their faces hidden by theatrical masks. This recurring dream lasted for over three years and would always end up at the same point. It became an obsession for me to find out what this dream was trying to tell me and I did a lot of research. The explanation did come to me in the end, and this entire episode in my life is what inspired the main storyline for ‘The Storyteller’s Nights’.
What are some of your pet peeves? My main pet peeves are abuse of power (as often seen in the corporate, political and sometimes religious institutions). Unfair practices, especially by self-righteous people who claim loud and clear that they will save the world, really gets under my skin, to the point where I often wonder if life would not be better as a hermit in a remote location, with only my own survival would matter. This is one thought that I have struggled with, but on the other side, I have a fantastic family that I love and that has become my reason for living and loving my blessed life. So to anyone who, like me, may struggle with these existential challenges, find, understand and accept all the great things in your life and never look back.
Where were you born/grew up at? I was born in the beautiful tropical island of Mauritius and lived there until the age of twenty-two. Growing up on a tropical island has a fascinating side whereby one has no choice but to enjoy nature, gorgeous beaches and lagoons with water warming up to above thirty degrees Celsius(30oC) during the summers. In addition, tropics tend to have only two seasons, summer and winter. Winters are windy, and the coldest that I can remember is about fifteen degrees Celsius (15oC) at night time, in the high plateau where my parents’ home is. Summers can sometimes be brutally hot and the main drawback is cyclones (known as typhoons in East Asia and tropical storm in the Western world). As kids, we loved cyclones, because schools were closed and whenever electricity was not cut-off due to fallen electric poles, we would have full TV programs all day. I have great memories of growing up in Mauritius, to the point that I chose the island as the main location for the adventures of ‘Les Nuits du Conteur’ (French version of ‘The Storyteller’s Nights’) and its follow-up, ‘Revanche’. I am also blessed to be able to visit my old Mom and my brothers there once a year.
If you knew you'd die tomorrow, how would you spend your last day? If possible, I would spend it with my family, remembering (i) all the things that made us laugh, and (ii) when things appeared to be so hard that we would likely succumb, it was all small stuff. The important things in life, as far as I’m concerned, are those unforgettable moments of laughter, pure joy, in the company of our loved ones. The rest is all small stuff. We must however always be grateful to the Universe for everything. By simply looking around, we should all see that life could be a whole lot harder…
Who is your hero and why? I have many heroes, and each of them has fueled my passions at one point in time. It all started with the fictitious character ‘Tintin’. This character made a great statement of always fighting the good fight, every moment of every day. I was even more fascinated when decades later, I found out that he was the character that inspired the first Indiana Jones movie, ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’. My next hero was (and still is to this day) Jackie Chan. I was a teenager in Mauritius when his movie ‘The Big Brawl’ came to the big screen. It was one of these rare occasions where everyone in the theater applauded at the end of the movie. I was stunned when I recently read Jackie Chan’s autobiography ‘Never grow up’, that the movie was an actual flop. As my life went on, I kept watching as many Jackie Chan movies as possible. Upon reading ‘Never grow up’ recently, I realized that the main things that this actor taught me were to always see the funny side of anything, and that only hard work pays off, if one is willing to accept that everything has a price. I won’t spoil it for those who are truly interested and will read the book.
Another hero is Ritchie Blackmore, lead guitarist of the seventies hard rock band ‘Deep Purple’. He portrayed another who worked very hard at achieving perfection. You have figured out by now that I too tried my luck at becoming a good guitar player. I never got there, although I did have some wild times with a band named ‘Beware’ and the couple of gigs we did in a bar. To this day, some of ‘Deep Purple’s’ music brings a smile and excitement. Blackmore and the band were pioneers who in my view, changed music more than Led Zeppelin or Black Sabbath. If there ever is an autobiography of ‘Ritchie Blackmore’, I will certainly read it. I’ve heard bits and pieces of side stories that he was also a psychic, and that’s an aspect that has a lot of interest from me.
Finally (I could likely find more heroes but for the purpose of this blog, I believe this is enough), there is the man who made the world’s best guitarist for many years in a row, Yngwie Malmsteem. What Ritchie Blackmore had pioneered into great music, Yngwie turned into a science so precise that it will always be to me an enigma. Again, some of Yngwie’s music still gets me jumping up and down in joy and whenever I feel sad or down, his music will bring me back up in no time.
What kind of world ruler would you be? I would be a lousy ruler, because I’ve understood that no one can please everyone. As such, a ruler whose prime directive is to treat everyone fairly, is doomed to failure by the mere nature of our humanity, whereby the grass is always greener next door. Yet, our society is set-up in such a way that we do need rulers. I can only conclude that the good ones are few and far in between.
What are you passionate about these days? There are so many great things in my life: fantastic family, near and far, interesting and challenging engineering job, great fun writing books and letting my imagination go wild, wild, wild… I will thus risk saying that I am passionate about hopefully being able to inspire people the way I have been and still am inspired by the heroes that I’ve mentioned in my answer to a previous question.
What do you do to unwind and relax? During the short Canadian summers, I enjoy the pool, reading books that I feel drawn to, drinking good beer, great whisky and the absolute fantastic company of family. The rest of the time will still include the books, the good beer, the great whisky and the company of family, but this is when I also catch up on movies and TV series. The winter months also include some short periods of solitude where I try to focus and put order in my priorities for the coming months, generally aiming for the coming twelve months (one year).
How to find time to write as a parent? It definitely was not possible when my kids were growing up. Ensuring schoolwork was done and simple house chores were executed as part of life training took a lot of energy, not to mention the challenges of teenage-hood and potential bad friends in some instances. Luckily, anther blessing in my life, this time has passed. My kids are now wonderful young adults who are tackling their own life challenges and struggles, but who find the time to come back to the nest and seek encouragement from time to time.
Describe yourself in 5 words or less! Idealistic fool, unmistakable dreamer!
When did you first consider yourself a writer? From a young age, possibly at around twelve years old. Consideration become reality at age 50.
Do you have a favorite movie? Wooohooo! Another difficult question since there are many movies that have inspired me, making it difficult to choose one as an absolute favorite of all times. But to answer the question, I’ll risk ‘The Ten Commandments’ (the original movie by Cecil B de Mille and starring Charlton Heston). Other unforgettable movies are ‘V’, ‘Close Encounters’, ‘Aliens’ (2nd movie in the long list) and a few others.
Which of your novels can you imagine made into a movie? Well, it seems that there are no coincidences in this world. ‘Principal Entertainment’ showed interest and a script prepared for ‘The Storyteller’s Nights’. But I did not like the way the script digressed from the book’s storyline. I understood the frustration that other authors that have their books turned into movies may experience, especially after reading and watching ‘Angels and Demons’, ‘The Da Vinci Code’ and others. I can certainly imagine ‘Fantasy Man’ as well as ‘The Miracle Ladies’ being made into movies.
What literary pilgrimages have you gone on? I set myself a challenge of reading a certain number of books during any given year. The amount of course depends on my writing/editing/translating plan. When matters go well, I have read over eighteen books in on year. The choice of books will vary between action/adventure, Thriller, Fantasy and Spiritual Books. On occasion, I will venture into a different genre.
As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal? The Gorilla, or the Black Panther.
What inspired you to write this book? ‘Fantasy Man’ generated some very interesting feedback and at the time, I had already started to develop ideas for ‘The Miracle Ladies’. So, before I could realize what was going on, the first draft of ‘The Miracle Ladies’ was completed in six months. I did my due diligence with the editing and was delighted when it was accepted by the publisher.
What can we expect from you in the future? A second edition of ‘Les Nuits du Conteur’ and a French version of ‘Fantasy Man’ (Monsieur Fantaisie) are coming out in September 2020. I will then translate “Revanche’ to English, followed by translation into French of ‘The Miracle Ladies’. With more luck, Mirador Publishing, Silver Dagger Tours, Editions Saint-Honoré and other great helpers such as Tansy Roake will help take it where it needs to go. That’s as much as I can say for the near term future. For 2021, I am still debating if my next big project will be the third and final follow-up to ‘The Storyteller’s Nights’ and ‘Revenge’, or another adventure in the veins of ‘Fantasy Man’ and ‘The Miracle Ladies’.
Do you have any “side stories” about the characters? I’ve been thinking about it but nothing and for sure, these side stories are materializing in my mind.
Can you tell us a little bit about the characters in ‘The Miracle Ladies’? Peter, Paul and ten others are nicknames based on the apostles of the Catholic Church. They are key members of a group with mission to supervise as well as ensure the safety of a group of women who will become known to the world as the miracle ladies.
Doug Maine is a famous and successful writer who is the best friend to Guillermo Ricci.
Guillermo Ricci is a teacher and associate to a professor at a Montreal University.
Father Danny Clark is a Vatican special envoy sent to recruit the services of Guillermo Ricci as help to investigate miracles happening all over the world.
Tab Ashworth is a man struggling with marital issues, trying to find himself and ending up witnessing a miracle.
Yara, Zara, Zena are three of the miracle ladies.
Ramon Garcia is a professor at a Montreal University. He is the assigned mentor to Guillermo Ricci.
Theresa Churchill is the Dean of Faculty at the Montreal University. She is the direct supervisor of Professor Ramon Garcia and associate professor Guillermo Ricci.
Krystelle Vignelot is a French professor hired by the Vatican in the same capacity as Guillermo Ricci.
The man who calls himself The Redeemer is also the Big Boss of the organization in charge of the miracle ladies.
Ghost is a self-appointed nickname to an ex-United States military general who has gone off the map and is now gun for hire. His real name is Kurt McQuade (from ‘Fantasy Man’).
Tara is a psychic lady who owns one of the few existing copies of a tarot deck said to have been devised entirely by Michelangelo. She provides a mesmerizing reading to the apostles.
And so, the Miracle Ladies will change the world through an incredible light and sound show that will be remembered forever.
How did you come up with the concept and characters for the book? The possible second coming of Jesus-Christ is an extremely controversial and much-debated topic. I just happened to hear it mentioned at a birthday party and it provided the basic idea from which I developed the rest of the story.
Where did you come up with the names in the story? I mixed and matched names of old male friends, old girlfriends, family names that I found interesting from past literature or movies, and names that I felt would do justice to the characters’ personalities by being either rare enough to convey the hidden side of the human psyche, or bold enough to convey strong character and even brute force.
What did you enjoy most about writing this book? The basic storyline offered me so many options of development while writing that I had to force myself through very hard choices. In the end, the story unfolded itself with great ease, resulting in the first draft being completed in six months. I enjoyed the entire journey of writing this book. The joy was crowned by the prompt acceptance by the publisher and I’ve had even more fun since, with great and truly encouraging reviews from local readers.
Tell us about your main characters- what makes them tick? Peter believes in his nickname and his role of leading the remaining apostles in supporting the endeavor of the Miracle Ladies. He will however be forced to challenge his allegiance when matters go out of his control.
Doug Maine writes about the unexplainable and other strange occurrences. He is fascinated by the world of the supernatural.
Guillermo Ricci has a secret passion following a discovery he made studying world religions. This passion becomes his obsession with the Miracle Ladies.
Ramon Garcia is a proud professor who believes in his assessment and views of religions worldwide. He is very condescending towards Doug Maine who he categorizes as a semi-lunatic in search of thrills through the unexplainable.
Theresa Churchill is an enigmatic woman with unclear aspirations. Her true colors will show eventually.
Krystelle Vignelot is determined to fulfil her mission as required by the Pope. Her similar background to Guillermo will bring her to work with the latter and their joint investigation will prove to be a white-knuckle ride.
The man who calls himself The Redeemer is obsessed with the promising, yet unknown culmination of his work, the Miracle Ladies.
Ghost was first obsessed with finding the civilians that had disappeared following the story of Fantasy Man. His obsession is diverted to the Redeemer and the Miracle Ladies despite himself.
How did you come up with the title of your first novel? ‘The Storyteller’s Nights’ was chosen to suggest time spent alone imagining ways of inspiring the world through stories. The context of the habitat of the Storyteller is designed to show that in the end, only time matters for those who have a clear purpose such as retelling the stories of the world in ways that continually aim at inspiration for a better world. A key question remains… In the end, who tells the story of the storyteller?
Who designed your book covers? The cover for ‘The Storyteller’s Nights’ was designed and drawn by myself. If I succeed in a revised edition at some point in the future, I will resort to external help.
Mirador Publishing proposed the covers for Fantasy Man and The Miracle Ladies, following various ideas that I brought forward.
The cover for the original edition of ‘Les Nuits du Conteur’, the French version of ‘The Storyteller’s Nights’, resulted from a long search from various pictures with no proprietary notice on the internet. The cover for the revised edition came from Éditions Saint-Honoré, the French publisher.
The cover for ‘Revanche’ is one of my drawings. Éditions Saint-Honoré, the French publisher has adapted it for the cover.
If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book? Per the feedback obtained from readers so far, I would not change anything.
Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book? With ‘Revanche’, I certainly learnt a lot about Wales and Madagascar, where part of the adventure takes place.
With ‘The Miracle Ladies’, I learnt so much about miracles and subtleties of various religions that I sometimes feel I could write and entire next book with some of the things I’ve learnt but have not had a chance to use yet.
If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead? For ‘Revanche’, I would be delighted to have the leading ladies as Charlize Theron and Jessica Alba. I truly don’t know about the leading man yet.
For The Miracle Ladies, I am looking at a blank page in terms of selecting actors for the various roles. In all honesty, it would be a project in itself for me to research and identify actors for the characters.
Anything specific you want to tell your readers? Thank You sincerely, always. Enjoy the adventures by letting yourself be completely immersed…
How did you come up with name of this book? The title was clear to me prior to starting to write the book. It provided me with a great focal point to develop the story. The original idea was inspired by the success of the title of the previous book, Fantasy Man, simple and yet enough of a title to raise eyebrows.
What is your favorite part of this book and why? The Miracle Ladies is a joy ride in terms of writing experience. It’s hard to pinpoint an actual favorite part but for the sake of answering the question with a specific part, the unfolding of the light and sound show towards the end of the story is a great scene. It was a gratifying culmination of events.
If you could spend time with a character from your book whom would it be? And what would you do during that day? I would want to spend time with Krystelle Vignelot because of her combined simple and straightforward personality as well as her determination. Then, there’s also Doug Maine and his fascination for the unexplained.
Are your characters based off real people or did they all come entirely from your imagination? For sure, parts of each and every character are from people I know. It’s been fun to see some readers actually tell me ‘This character reminds me a lot of ….’ and they would be absolutely correct. Of course, my imagination has hatched everything else to make a character lovable or despicable. It is also important to know that facets of my own personality appear every now and then, in some of the characters.
Do your characters seem to hijack the story or do you feel like you have the reigns of the story? I went through the same experience that I did with writing Fantasy man and my other books. There are always a few points in the story where the story seems to write itself. During those times, the characters hijack the story. The nice part is that in the end, the only way to a sensible closure is by keeping the reigns of the story.
Convince us why you feel your book is a must read. The Miracle Ladies is unique in its storyline. The delicate and gentle strength of womanhood is portrayed under a myriad of facets. In the end, the greatest achievements are always the result of a team effort, and there is no better and greater team than one woman and one man in love with one another, with a joint purpose that they themselves did not know existed.
Have you written any other books that are not published? I am blessed as they are all published at this stage.
If your book had a candle, what scent would it be? This book would carry multiple scents, Vanilla, Lavender, Jasmine, and much more…
What did you edit out of this book?
Only some reference notes that at some point showed a tendency for excessive information that would be rather irrelevant or unimportant to some readers.
Is there a writer which brain you would love to pick for advice? Who would that be and why? There are many:
Dan Brown: He is the one who inspired me out of my long procrastination and got me to write and publish.
Matthew Reilly: I don’t know of any other writer who can write a mix of action, fantasy and thriller with such creativity.
James Rollins: He provides the best mix of action with esoteric facets that are the subject of various studies around the world as we speak. His joint novels with Rebecca Cantrell, the Sanguine series, opened a new world of horror that I truly enjoyed through the three books.
Jose Rodrigues Dos Santos: He is a powerful writer, providing such string evidence to support ideas, plots, conspiracies and the storylines that I am always on the lookout for his next published book.
Clive Cussler: He is the master of adventure. I am a sucker for treasure hunts and Clive Cussler has written some of the best stories of the genre.
Andy MacDermott: British humor at its finest, mixed with great action. Having achieved my Bachelor and Masters in engineering in England, I have developed a great affinity for British humor.
Steve Berry: Great researcher who provides clear and concise supporting information that leads the reader deep into the storyline. You will feel that you are living the experience.
Simon Toyne: Gripping stuff…
A few more that escape me right now, but I would love to chat with each and every one of these writers over a drink.
Fun Facts/Behind the Scenes/Did You Know?'-type tidbits about the author, the book or the writing process of the book. It all starts with an idea… a simple event of daily life: something someone would say, a scenery in a book, a painting or a picture, a dream that triggers such a powerful thought sequence that one feels compelled to investigate and eventually write about. Sources of inspiration are quasi-endless.
Behind the scenes: There are some main facets here when it comes to my writing. I will spend as much time as required discussing ideas with my wife. If a particular research topic requires me to dig deep, I will research through all means available to me, including discussing with select key people in my entourage. In the end, all the humor in my books is based on true events.
Did you know? I have to travel a lot for my engineering work. It occurred to me that these travels would serve the additional purpose of me identifying and remembering places of interest that could be used as part of the storyline. All my books are filled with such places.
The writing process can only properly start with a main idea, a strong skeleton that will hold the story all the way. Then, once the writing process has started, it is amazing in my personal experience how there is a connection that happens between the writer and the Universal consciousness. Ideas that were not thought of suddenly creep in, a phrase on a newspaper, a comment on the news, hearing a few words of a conversation between people, everything becomes a source of inspiration. But then, as a writer, it becomes essential to listen to the silent messages of the Universe. When the writing feels difficult, when it becomes clear that the inspiration is not quite there and the energy is not flowing freely, leave the writing and go and do something completely different for a while. Do not get frustrated. Just let it go until you feel compelled to return to the writing. You’ll be surprised as to how well it will all come together then.
What are your top 10 favorite books/authors? I have mentioned my favorite authors above. I would like to say that as time goes on, it is my intention to read more and more from authors that I have not yet explored. My ten favorite books are, in order of precedence:
Angels and Demons, by Dan Brown. The Einstein Enigma, by Jose Rodrigues Dos Santos. Signe de Vie (French), by Jose Rodrigues Dos Santos. Atlantis Found, by Clive Cussler. The shack, by Paul William Young The Sanctus Trilogy, by Simon Toyne Secrets of the Lost Mode of Prayer, by Gregg Braden The Great Zoo of China, by Matthew Reilly La danse du Mal (French), by Michel Benoit Furie Divine (French), by Jose Rodrigues Dos Santos
What book do you think everyone should read? My top remains ‘The Einstein Enigma’.
How long have you been writing? It’s been ten years, although the first five years were very slow. I was not only learning the process of writing novels, without a guide or course, but also learning about some of the traps of the publishing industry.
Do the characters all come to you at the same time or do some of them come to you as you write? Some definitely come through the writing itself. In general, I have a very good idea of the main characters prior to starting the writing process.
What kind of research do you do before you begin writing a book? Once an idea has materialized as a possible storyline, I will ask myself how much I know about the topic itself, or the topic in relation to the type of story I want to write. Once I have answered these questions, I will take a look at my shelf of reference books and see what base information I can find. Then, it is a full blown internet search as well as various discussions with my entourage, mainly my wife to start with.
Do you see writing as a career? I would like to say that I see it more as a main activity once I’ve retired. Writing as a career would have been an ideal situation if I had started thirty years ago and had hit the bestseller’s list way back.
What do you think about the current publishing market? It has certainly changed a lot even in the ten years I’ve been writing. I find that it can be convoluted and that it is easy, especially for new or aspiring authors, to get lured into multiple initiatives that aim only at getting the author’s own money with no real prospect of return on investment. If an author gets lucky, like I have with Mirador Publishing and Éditions Saint-Honoré, stick to these institutions and your contacts. Do not get easily caught in ‘The grass is always greener next door’. Matters are even more complex now with Amazon publishing. I read extreme contradictory information on this facet of the industry. It is also fair for me to say that in my view, the market seems saturated. As such, I wish all the best to aspiring writers and urge them not to give up.
Do you read yourself and if so what is your favorite genre? Yes, I read a lot. I enjoy edge-of-the-seat adventures as much as some good analysis of a spiritual belief or esoteric topic through pure academic approach or even better, through an adventure where the study is combined with action, laughter, sadness and other human emotions.
Do you prefer to write in silence or with noise? Why? In my daily engineering job, I’ve had no choice but to develop an ability to write amidst noise, sometimes excessive noise of various people on the phone, others holding loud discussion in the next cubicle etcetera. One might argue that it’s Ok since it does not require the same concentration as writing a book, but technical writing can be just as, if not sometimes more demanding. Thus, for my books, I like the peace and quiet of the sanctuary I call home. Once we have done the house chores, had a good exchange about our daily lives, had a great supper, I find my backyard to be an awe-inspiring space in summer. Of course the Canadian autumns and winters force indoor activities, but the same approach applies in a quiet corner of the house. Calming music in the background is fine with me, but not essential.
Do you write one book at a time or do you have several going at a time? I write one book at a time, although I can be conflicted with ideas for other books that sometimes pop out of nowhere.
If you could have been the author of any book ever written, which book would you choose? ‘Angels and Demons’ and ‘The Einstein Enigma’.
Pen or type writer or computer? Definitely computer.
Tell us about a favorite character from a book. Professor Robert Langdon in Angels and Demons… He is the icon of a true professor with the uncanny ability to see past the veil of deceit.
What made you want to become an author and do you feel it was the right decision? From a young age, I enjoyed reading so much that I thought to myself that writing must be an enjoyable experience. In general, authors have something to say or something they truly want to share. I certainly feel the same way whenever the urge to write surfaces. Writing eliminates the potential for endless discussions and even if readers do not agree with what is on paper, it is up to them to decide what they do with the information provided. Personally, I make no claims whatsoever that what I write has real value on human life. I simply wish to share ideas and thoughts for hopefully a better world for our children and all our loved ones who will be left behind when we depart from this world.
A day in the life of the author? Not much to say here other than a pretty simple and ordinary life... About writing, consistency combined with determination is a ritual that I try to practice on a daily basis. I also draw and this helps me clear my mind and generate new ideas for the next adventure.
Advice they would give new authors? You might get lucky with your first novel and make it big. In the meantime, it is worth remembering some golden rules: Hard work pays off and it is worth doing your homework properly before sending your manuscript to publishers; however tedious it may appear, edit your manuscript a minimum of three times before sending to the publisher. In addition, most important of all, ask yourself the same question repeatedly. Is writing something you really want to do, or is it something that is appealing impulsively? If your honest answer is that this is something that you wish to do, then, ensure the following three words are forever engraved in your mind, heart and soul: Never give up!
Describe your writing style. I try to keep baiting the reader just enough for him to want to continue to read. From reading many books from various authors, I have adapted my style to ensure the reader has as much information as he needs from footnotes or references to have a good view of what is going on. I have unfortunately been frustrated at times from a few other authors who assume that the reader is completely fluent in jargon or acronyms or even locations and cultures.
What makes a good story? A clear idea first, a clear and good message as the outcome, and plenty of mystery, challenge, action, puzzles and fun in between. In addition, lovable characters must be clearly lovable while despicable characters must be truly despicable. Of course, there have to be twists and turns so that the personalities push the reader to keep digging.
What are you currently reading? I’m not reading right now as I am busy working on promotion material for the Miracle Ladies as well as the release of the French version of Fantasy Man. Once this is done, I will likely tackle ‘The Wisdom Codes’ by Gregg Braden.
What is your writing process? For instance do you do an outline first? Do you do the chapters first? What are common traps for aspiring writers? I try to write half a page as an outline but find that it does not work very well for me. I would have to write at least two pages to have a meaningful outline. As a result, once I have the main idea for the storyline, I start with the first two chapters and pretty much follow the flow of inspiration from there. Aspiring writers need to ensure self-discipline if they wish to progress and succeed. But because we are all different in character, endurance and life experiences, it is important for aspiring writers to first evaluate and establish their own weaknesses and determine how they will tackle these weaknesses. In my personal view, this is one good way to put as many aces up your sleeve as you can.
What is your writing Kryptonite? Time is my number one Kryptonite. Others are my own interest in reading, documentaries and movies, which push me to self-impose a strict calendar for myself. And there, there are always the curved balls that life throws at us…
Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want? I definitely try to be more original.
If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be? Do your homework and do not be impatient. There is a natural order to writing and you need to listen to the voice from the silence within.
What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex? This is a great question. It is the hardest thing about writing, i.e. to understand enough of the opposite sex to remain credible in one’s writing. Again, I consider myself blessed and lucky to have my wife as first critic. Many other readers are also of the opposite sex and they always provide great feedback that helps me in the next venture.
How long on average does it take you to write a book? ‘The Storyteller’s Nights’ took two years. ‘Fantasy Man’ took nine months. ‘Revanche’ took seven months. ‘The Miracle Ladies’ took seven months.
Do you believe in writer’s block? I have experienced it with ‘The Storyteller’s Nights’. Since, I have not and I believe it is because I have learnt to listen and read the signs. As I mentioned answering a previous question, as soon as the writing is not flowing, I step away and do something else. Inspiration comes back quickly enough. So, to give a clear answer, yes I believe in writer’s block, but I also believe that it’s a matter of how an author manages his approach.
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