Saturday, September 13, 2014

In a new language, you can be a new person, says polyglot French author

Polyglot French author, Marie Houzelle, talks about the joys of writing in foreign languages, music, the voice of childhood, and the feast for senses that is Catholic ritual.

Interview by Janet Skeslien Charles, author of the award-winning Moonlight in Odessa. 

Marie Houzelle's acclaimed debut novel Tita  tells the story of a precocious seven-year-old schoolgirl struggling to find her way amid the traditions of southern France in the 1950s.
Tita will be released September 15 in paperback and December 15 in ebook.

"a strange, utterly original child" 
.Katharine Weber, author of Triangle and True Confections


When did you begin writing fiction?

Like Tita, as a child I used to write musical plays for my friends. In my teens, nothing but political songs and leaflets. My first narrative fiction was destined for my younger daughter, Mathilde, who liked comic strips (and the bedtime stories I improvised) but refused to read actual books. She was pretty critical of my efforts. So was I.
I kept scribbling, especially in public transport, about what was going on around me. Usually not in French, because people tend to glance at your notebook.
Ten years ago, I was in Alice Notley’s magnificent weekly workshop, trying to write non-fiction stories; I was so obsessed with truth I ended up with nothing but questions, for which I couldn’t find the right shape. Unwillingly, as a last resort, I defected to fiction. What a relief!

 Why do you write in English?

I’m not sure why I write in English. Or why I mostly sing in German and Latin. Last week, I felt like writing in Dutch, I had such a good time trying to pronounce it. French? I’m not fond of the word écrivain, not to mention écrivaine. While I feel quite comfortable with writer.

I teach creative writing to French university students. What advice do you have for them concerning writing in English?

Feel free. In a new language, you can be a new person. Don’t try to write either correctly or “like a native speaker”. English is a welcoming language. Many countries, no Academy. Enjoy it.

Marie Houzelle grew up in the south of France. Her work has appeared in the collection Best Paris Stories, in Narrative Magazine, Pharos, Orbis, Serre-Feuilles, Van Gogh's Ear, and in the chapbook No Sex Last Noon. "Hortense on Tuesday Night" was chosen by Narrative Magazine as one of the five top stories of 2011. Marie Houzelle was the only author to have two stories selected for inclusion in Best Paris Stories

Tita will be published on September 15, 2015 in paperback. Available in Paris at Shakespeare and Company bookstore. Available worldwide on Amazon and in your local bookstore.

For more information on Tita and Marie Houzelle.

 Extracts published courtesy of Janet Skeslien Charles.
Read full interview here:

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