Translated by Isabel Williams

Valérie Perrin, Three

Valérie Perrin, Three

I was never a young author.

My first novel was published when I was 48 years old. At 48, we aren’t old, but nor are we young. We are experienced. At 48, I’d had two children and I’d loved. I didn’t know I would write. But I had a feeling. I don’t think I’d have been able to write a novel at 20. At 20, I moved about, ran, worked, went to the cinema, the theatre, concerts, I earnt a living, I went to nightclubs many times a week, and made love many times a day.

I absorbed everything around me. Youth is a sponge when opportunity surrounds us. Opportunity makes our decisions.

Nowadays, I still live as intensely, but in a different way.

At 20, I lived.

I probably started to make memories from then on. Memories that I would borrow and reinvent when I started to write. I didn’t know it at the time. We do so many things subconsciously.

I think foresight cuts destiny short. It’s better to have faith in our sixth sense, our instinct, better to listen to our inner voice. We shouldn’t be scared; it’s easier to write than it is to do. We all have our doubts, our fears, the things that hold us back. We all have a voice in our head, whispering, “You’re not good enough. Know your place.”

For a long time, I would go to work early so I could sit on a bench at my metro connection and read.

I believe that writing must first go through reading.

Writing has always revolved around me, and vice versa.

In 1999, I came across the idea for my first story. Then from an idea, it became an obsession. From an obsession, a necessity. A need to write Les Oubliés du Dimanche before I died.

My first attempt was unconvincing. It lacked body. That’s to say, the story remained an idea but never took shape.

I started to write the novel in the early 2000s. I stopped. I picked it up again. A thousand times over. I gave up, I believed in it. Gave up. Believed.

I didn’t know where to go with it, which paths I should take to build a solid foundation.

In 2007, the idea that this story should be embodied by a professional carer brought the words to life. All of a sudden, my senses awoke and slipped between the lines: scent, cold, heat, fear, joy, doubt, love, hate, betrayal, despair, nostalgia, hope.

To write is to feel what each character feels. Each character should be someone, not just a character.

Between 2007 and 2013, I wrote many scenes with a film director. I learnt all about structuring and building the bones of a story.

That gave me the desire to write my own story, instead of writing for others. Others may betray you, using only a small portion of your work, which can be terribly frustrating. The regret of “Why did they overlook my idea?”

In 2013, I had six months to write and do nothing else. I finished my novel.

I asked my close friends to read it. They all told me to send it to a publishing house, so I did. Two months later, I was called in by my future editor and signed my first contract.

So, what would I tell myself as a young author? It takes work. You want to write? Then work, search, read, find your passion, cross it all out, rip it up, start again, look and listen to others, don’t hold back and above all, think about what you’re writing for. Give it everything, but be sincere. Think of your “what”. Write what you would love to read. Work. Don’t give up. Be strict on yourself. Let your joy overflow, even in the darkest of chapters.

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