Our Author of the month for August 2020 is the beautiful Charline Malaval.
I recently read Charline’s novel, ‘The Sailor From Casablanca’ and was immediately curious about her writing and everything in-between. You can read my review of her book HERE.
Charline Malaval was born in Limoges in 1984, and grew up in Correze, south-western France. Having worked in Brazil, Mauritius, Bulgaria and Vanuatu, she now teaches at the French Lycee in Riga. The Sailor from Casablanca is her first novel.
Charline has given us an insight into her life as a published author by answering 10 questions.
Here we go……
1. When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
Charline: Very early. Maybe when I started to read. As a child, I read a lot. My first writing was a sort of anti-fairy tale which began like this : once upon a time, there was a man-eating bird… I was 6 or 7. Honestly, I’m convinced you realize you want to become a writer when you can’t prevent yourself from writing even if you’re not getting published, no matter how much refusal letters you receive.
2. What were the early influences that geared you towards writing?
Charline: First of all, the strongest influence is probably my father who is also a writer. Seeing him lost in his stories and surrounded by shelves filled with books fascinated me as far as I remember. On the other hand, when I really think, there were three times where I was moved in literature for the first time : The end of Steinbeck’s Of mice and Men, the depiction of the colour of the sea in Moravia’s Contempt and the main character in Romain Gary’s Life before us.
And in the end, travel literature. I wrote my comparative literature thesis (PhD) on travel during the interwar period as I was absolutely fascinated by great travelers and reporters : Joseph Conrad, Ella Maillart, Hemingway and Martha Gellhorn, Stevenson, Cendrars, Jack London, Alexandra David-Neel. I discovered a kind of literature made to escape and live other lives than yours. And that’s the power that I early and hardly wanted to get.
3. What kind of research did you carry out when writing your novel ‘The Sailor from Casablanca’?
Charline: Books, internet, documentaries, movies, travels. But at first, I was inspired by my great uncle’s story who actually died in the explosion of La Railleuse. We never knew what really happened, just that he never returned. That idea of the loss of a loved one has haunted me since I was a little girl and all the questions it brings : the failed destiny, all he could have been, and what if he hadn’t died etc… And of course, I did a lot of historical researches, and technical details. I absolutely don’t know anything about navy ships for example ! So for months, I lived watching documentaries about the war and movies. I used an old navy slang dictionary to use the proper language for Felix for example. And I went twice to Casablanca to continue my research.
4. What are the most difficult parts of your artistic process?
Charline: Definitely, the beginning. You have this idea, you know there is something to say, to write about it, but you need to decide how your characters will talk, you need to think of the structure of the book and so on… You can’t tell everything. You need to make a decision for absolutely everything, to choose and that means leaving behind many different things. Starting is always the moment when you realize that even if you wrote several books before, you feel the same way : you feel like if you have never written a book.
And the end as well is difficult ! Letting go an atmosphere you created and you love is a wrench.
5. How did you get your debut published?
Charline: My first novel published was Etrangères, that means : Foreigners. At first, it was rejected by a lot of publishing houses, except one, (Ed Lucien Souny). And in the same week, my current publisher ask if I had other projects. And I mentioned The Sailor from Casablanca.
6. What advice would you give to aspiring yet to be published writers?
Charline: Never give up and keep writing if that’s really, deeply, what you want to do. And never stop reading.
7. What would you give up to be a better writer?
Charline: My full-time job to get more time… But obviously I can’t. Otherwise, I was lately listening to a podcast about Gogol who flirted with craziness all his life, and one of the guests underlined that the lack of madness in nowadays literature… Maybe it’s right, and reason is probably creation’s worst enemy!
8. Who are your favorite authors and why?
Charline: There are so many… But the basics for me could be Stefan Zweig for the subtility of feelings depiction, each time breath-taking. Patricia Highsmith, Joseph Conrad, Hemingway, Steinbeck, Faulkner. I recently discovered Charles Williams and decided to read everything of him, and I lately really enjoyed Claire Fuller’s Swimming lessons that I just finished a few hours ago!
9. What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
Charline: Maybe my travels. I’ve been living overseas for the last 6 years and have been living in 5 different countries : Brazil, Bulgaria, Mauritius, Vanuatu and Latvia. I need to see colors, smells, ligns I will describe. As I said for The Sailor from Casablanca, I was there. I went looking for every old cinema in town to know how they were nowadays. The building Loubna wants to make a cinema with exists for real, and my first thought when I saw it was : “it’s a shame, this wonderful building is empty, with trees around, and herbs growing everywhere… It would be nice to make an open-air cinema with it… And what about if my character had this in mind?” That’s how I write.
10. Do you have another book cooking in the oven?
Charline: My next book will be published next January in France: Le Chant du Perroquet / The Parrot’s song. It takes place in Brazil, São Paulo. It’s a story involving love and Bossa Nova during the dictatorship in the early 50’s and 60’s. I am currently writing the next one, which will take place in Russia during WWII but I can’t say anything more…
Special thanks to Charline for granting this interview. I loved reading her responses and I hope you did too.
Do you have any more questions for the author?
Please ask away in the comment section and she will respond accordingly.
Have a great weekend!