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Douglas Kennedy

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Douglas Kennedy

The interview

Thunderbolts, dilemmas, regrets... it is that a novel. Douglas Kennedy once again proves it to us with a dangerous relation, its new novel which it had come to present at the fnac of Lille (France) this autumn. It is on this occasion that he very elegantly wanted to answer our questions. Meet with a man sympathetic nerve agreeably and full with humour.

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Photograph: Jerry Bauer

The idea

The idea of this book comes a little from the phenomenon of the depression which is one of the greatest evils of these last years. Everyone, either suffered from a depression, or known somebody in his entourage which lived it. The idea of the depression according to what explained me a friend who in suffered during 5 years is as a darkroom in which one is locked up. It is during a dinner in London two years ago which I met a woman who let me know that its life was a little monotonous. I answered him that each life was a novel, which is plain truth. I made include/understand with this woman whom it had certainly of the euphoric moments in her life, which it confirmed to me. It thus started to tell me an extraordinary history. Maternity was for it a dislike, two days after the birth of his/her son it refused to touch it, that for six months. It said to intend a voice regularly to say to him that it was a bad mother. Its depression increased gradually during a month and an evening, while returning to the house her husband discovered by ground of the kitchen striking the head against the ground to attenuate this voice which it intended to say to him "you are a bad mother".

As in your other novels any rocker at one time. There is the impression of a perpetual play which you make with the reader...

In all my novels one moment ago when any rocker. I believe that my novels are popular for two reasons. I think and hope that after having started to read one of my books one must finish it and secondly, one puts myself so much in the skin of the character in bad posture which one wants to leave in his place. In a dangerous relation Everyone thinks that the depression of the young woman is almost finished on her return to the house at the time when the blow of theatre occurred.

From where does this taste come you from psychological suspense?

I believe that that comes from my childhood which was not of a great stability. The speciality of my parents were the domestic fights, the house was a zone of perpetual war. I thus grew with the idea that all will rock from one moment to another, and that, all the time. At the same time I believe that everyone adores the domestic fights (it bursts of laughing). As much about writers I speak about the everyday life in all my novels. The daily newspaper is a great source of inspiration which interests everyone even if one is afraid of the great falls which hiding place this life of tous.les.jours.

You have a very thorough direction of observation, you make portraits rather representative of your characters who gives the impression to the reader to be in the presence of people of his clean entourage...

I observe the others all the time, I think that the style of clothing for example is a sign. I noticed for example your sweater that I like much, you have the same style as me, a very urban, contemporary and very simple style at the same time. Clothing is a language. The novels define our time. One must describe much but without giving too many details, there is a border between description and the detail. One must think constantly of the direction of the account. There are many descriptions in my accounts but with the beginning and the end one must especially concentrate on the account. If there is confidence with the account all the remainder will follow, details, topic etc. It should be known that in general I write four to five versions different from a novel to retain some one at the end. I wrote five drafts of a dangerous relation . The beginning was completely different. The action occurred to Boston, it pregnant, was depressed and miserable. I realized that it was machiavélique to have a beginning where it very happy. It is thus international reporter, it does not have any idea of a domestic life, it is very opened out, it plank forty, it wants to remain unmarried, not to have of child, it is not fragile and in the final analysis any exchange. The life is made like that.

It is difficult to say but I was with 11000 words of my next novel when when I very put at the dustbin. I knew the fact that a novel could not go, that made me become aware that one must be very self-criticism.

I think that each novel is a new challenge. I am thus afraid to begin a novel whereas I must absolutely take again the writing of my next book in three weeks to the maximum. One must have a certain self-confidence but the doubt will be, I think, omnipresent.

With success, one must have the idea to keep the high bar...

I like success naturally, but I refuse to be a large celebrity because I think that that is an ambition of BOF. I am not a rock'n'roll star, I am not an actor, I am an only writer. I like success for the very independent life that it enables me to have. I have many buddies novelists and I noted that they have also the doubt. I think that the doubt is of primary importance for a novelist. Success creates another situation. I remember that with the writing of my first book in 1987 I received almost 30000 £ (45 000?) of my editor, I were very delighted all while saying to me that this sum had to be deserved. Today each one of my novels is sold with nearly a million specimens in the world, I have a different pressure but it always exists.

What inspires the Littéraire price to you which you obtained in Deauville this year 2003?

I believe that this price was delivered in Deauville for 48h (laughter). I rely certain on me, at the same time I think that all the writers are nevrotic.

Do you have at the head the beginning and the end of a novel when you start to write it?

I am not an architect, I thus do not make planning. There is a French expression which I like, it east "follow your sense of smell". I know at the beginning the narrator and the characters. After this asset the account evolves/moves each day, I cut itself through a path compared to the dangerous actions. I know the end of the novel but I do not have the screen which leads to this end. I discover the course of the history during the writing. Many actions intervene during the writing. After having begun a novel I become very disciplined, I write between 500 and 1000 words per days, except the weekend that I devote entirely to my family. The novel is for me an adventure. Next Thursday I will lunch with my English editor to discuss my new idea of novel, I will begin the writing of the novel only if she of it is satisfied. I will start to write it at the time of my stay in Australia as from the first week of November.

Which were your literary influences?

I adore Graham Greene which I regard as one of the largest English novelists of the 20 2nd century. It was for me a popular novelist who wrote very serious novels. There are many topics which I use that one finds in the novels of Greene, treason, forgiveness. I think that there is a very existential point of view of my novels which I hold of Greene, the idea that the destiny depends on oneself.

The last book which marked you?

I read again Madame Bovary recently and I really regaled myself some. Flaubert is for me the father of the novel society man.

The music which you do listen to more in this moment?

I currently listen to many Miles Davis .

The last film which you saw?  Mystic River of Clint Eastwood ,a dark but brilliant film.

Which is the question which you do not support that one poses to you?

It is not a question but an assertion: "I am certain that all your novels are autobiographical. With that I answer: completely I made a postnatal depression like my narrator in a dangerous relation ".

Which is the question which you would like that one more often poses to you?

Why did you decide to be a writer?

Why did you decide to become writer?

It had been my objective for eight years which I write but I really decided that with my fourth book, The big picture which was a great success. Success not being a permanent state one must always work and it is only I attèle to be been done.

You, why do you live in London are American?

My wife who is Irish is senior official of the State Britannique. London was thus the compromise between New York and Europe. I lived today between London and Paris, which enable me to improve in the French language that I have learned for three years. I miss New York, it is true, but not really these last years with George W Bush with the capacity. The American company became more and more very preserving and I acknowledge whom take great pleasure to live between London and Paris.

Collected by N.A. (Oct. 2003)


A Special Relationship



Bibliography  Douglas Kennedy

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