Jerome was born and grew up in France where he developed a love of literature. He has also lived in Australia and has just recently moved to Hong Kong. He is a playright and his first YA novel, The Wings of Leo Spencer, was released earlier this year.
1. Is there a specific time or place that you do your best writing in?
I write best early morning or late at night. In the middle of the day, I tend to get bogged down and lack energy. Having said that, it varies. There are times I can write for eight hours or more in a row, if I am deeply immersed in the story I am writing (or if I have a deadline!). I write mostly from my home office, as I need a familiar environment without distractions in order to be productive. I am amazed by people who can write in cafes or in public places!
2. Who were your favourite authors as a teenager? Are they different to your current favourites?
I really liked Enid Blyton as a young teen-ager! I think I wasn’t very mature in my reading because it took me a while to move on. I loved Harper Lee and the only book she’s ever written, To Kill a Mockingbird. At the time, I also read many of the classics, in particular the books from the Brontë sisters, Molière and even Tennessee Williams. I was also very fond of a French writer, Hervé Bazin.
These days, my tastes are much more eclectic. I love young adult authors such as Eoin Colfer, Philip Pullman, Melina Marchetta, Isobel Carmody, Kate Forsyth, Garth, Nix, Garry Disher and J.K. Rowling; and others such as James Bradfield, Anne Rice, Irène Némirosky, Amélie Nothomb, Nick Hornby, Douglas Kennedy, Guillaume Musso, Peter Carey, the list goes on...
3. If you were only allowed to take three books to a desert island, what would they be?
I would take To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman (although that’s three books in itself), and The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. These are my favourite books.
4. Is there a novel that you wish you’d written? Why?
I wish I had written His dark materials. This is exactly the type of story I love, fantasy with a twist, dealing with religious issues, life and death, and growing up. These are fabulous themes, and they are beautifully treated by Pullman in these books. Pullman is a great story teller; he is very inventive and creates worlds that become amazingly real to the reader.
5. Why did you choose such a traditional version of heaven for The Wings of Leo Spencer?
There are several reasons that made me choose the version of Heaven that you can find in The Wings of Leo Spencer. I wanted to work with the hierarchies of angels as they are typically described, because on one hand I wanted to write a book that didn’t stray too much from how many people see angels, but on the other hand I thought that the hierarchies offered complexity that I could use in many different ways. Angels can be good, bad or even terrifying. I wanted a version of Heaven that could work with these hierarchies of angels. I also didn’t want to imagine a Heaven that would draw too much attraction on itself, as Heaven isn’t really what the book is about; I didn’t want the reader to be drawn away from the core of the story: the grieving process, making the most of life, and more than anything, humans and their life on earth.
6. Which of the five hierarchies of angels would you like to work in?
This is a great question, and not an easy one to answer! At the end of the day, I think I would like to be a guardian angel, because they belong to the hierarchy of angels who stay closest to humans, interact with them daily, and help them to move forward in their life.
7. What inspired your changed from writing plays to writing novels? How different an experience was it?
I love books and reading, and I had always wanted to write novels. However, since I was working in theatre at the time, it felt natural to try writing plays. I started with short plays, and I was pleasantly surprised when I realized people liked them and wanted to produce them. I kept writing for the theatre until I felt I was ready to write a novel. It was an interesting experience, because writing books is a very different process from writing plays: when you write a play, you need to organize readings and workshops with actors. It is a much more inclusive process than writing novels, which is a lonely activity. I found, however, that having worked and written for theatre helped me to write lively dialogues in my books. These days, I write both plays and novels.
8. Are you working on anything at the moment? Can you tell us anything about it?
I have just finished a novel, in French this time, which has been picked by a French publisher. It should be on the shelves around February next year. It is the story of a rafting expedition in Northern Australia that turns into a nightmare, a closed environment focusing on the relationships between the rafters – and nature!
I have recently moved to Hong Kong and have been inspired by the place, because I have started writing a thriller which takes place here. It is still early stage, so I won’t say too much about it now.
Thanks so much, Jerome! You can visit Jerome at his website here and read my review of The Wings of Leo Spencer here.