Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Author Inteview: Antoine Rouaud - 'The Path of Anger'

As part of the on-going series of posts covering the David Gemmell Legend Awards, I invited Morningstar nominee Antoine Rouaud to talk about his debut 'The Path of Anger', published by Gollancz in the UK. 'The Path of Anger' isn't just one of the hottest releases in the UK, it's everywhere, with simultaneous releases in France, Germany, Holland and Spain!

Please note: English is not Antoine's first language, and my French is limited to 'Where are the pants? Oh, the pants are in the church' (a story for another time), so between us we have managed to conduct the interview to best fit. Whilst some of the wording may have been edited for clarity, the answers remain the same. I took the explicit decision not to change the wording so as to preserve Antoine's character and charm.

Hi Antoine, welcome to WWaS (Written With a Sword). Congratulations for being nominated to the shortlist in the David Gemmell Morningstar Award. For those readers who have yet to ‘meet you’, tell us a little about yourself.

Thank you very much, it's really a great thing for me to be nominated in such a prize as the David Gemmell Morningstar Award. It's really incredible and i'm really honored. So, who am I ? Just a little guy from Nantes, in the west of France, a nice place to live - and the birth place of Jules Vernes! I grew up with his universe, and with the story of my city, too. Its history is hard and dark with slavery during the 18th Century, but also bright and clever with a lot of artists, and a good part of "surréalisme". 

I have always written – and since I’ve been able to I’ve created stories. I worked in radio for a while, and realized audiostories which are still available on internet. Now, I'm still living in Nantes, and working hard on the second book of ‘The Book and the Sword’. 

So, how did you go from being in the world of radio to writing? Have you always wanted to be a writer?

Yes, indeed. It was my dream... as I dreamed about being an actor, writing stories for cinema, composer... As I said above, I have always written – different things, different stories. I took my chance when I met Stéphane Marsan from Bragelonne. I spoke to him and proposed to him my book. What happened next was just unbelievable. 

What does it feel like to have your debut novel simultaneously released on an international level, in multiple languages?

Nothing Special... maybe a strange sensation of explode myself. Seriously, the good word to explain what it feel like is unbelievable... again.  

Tell us about ‘The Path of Anger’ – what’s your ‘elevator pitch’?

It's a strong relation between a man who wanted to be a dad, and a boy who want to be the greatest knight in the world. It's a story of both, with their different ways of thinking, one from an ancient world, the other ready to build a new one. It talks about what we can learn from each other, and what we need for grow up. 

And, not forgetting, there’s a dragon, and it’s set during a dark period when a revolution tries to bring hope to the common people. 

How long did it take to plan and write ‘Path of Anger’? Do you have a writing routine?

No writing routine really. I just wanted to make the best I could. It takes me... let me think... six month for writing all ? Maybe a little more but not so much. 

What inspired you to write ‘Path of Anger’?
Especially tragedies. From Shakespeare to Corneille... And Greek tragedies. I wanted an epic story. And tragic too but not for free. I tried to write it with a meaning, some way to think about our lives. It's why the base of the Trilogy is built on a book which is contain the destiny of all mankind. 

Now that ‘Path of Anger’ has been released into the wild, are you happy with it? Anything you’d change? Have you changed from the process?

 More coffee. More stress sometimes... but more confident too. I'm really happy. Now, I have to work more and more for write the sequel! 

What was the hardest part of writing ‘Path of Anger’?

Corrections. The corrections with my publisher. Because you have to doubt about your script. You have to put your ego aside. You have to understand all the critic are made for the better of your story. Then, you have to write again, correct what it seems wrong. That was the hardest part. Finally, the biggest part. 

The story follows two major characters, that of Dun-Cadal the knight, and Frog the boy from the saltmarsh. Which is your favourite?

 I love both ! No one is black or white. They both have their weaknesses and  strengths of mind.  Which is important for a story I think. Having characters who want to love and hate. 

Are you the mentor, like Dun-Cadal, or the apprentice, like Frog?

I think I am more closer to Frog. With more anger. I was like him when I was a teenager. Without a sword, special power and the desire to kill everybody of course. 

What would you like readers to take away from ‘The Path of Anger’?

I want the readers turn the last page of my book and think about what they just read... what happened to the characters, why they choose what they choose... And think they had a really great time. 

What does it mean to you being nominated for the David Gemmell Morningstar award?

It means a lot. It's really an honour. My first book ? Released in all those countries and nominated ? ... amazing. I'm proud of it, I try to live that. But I have to think about the next step, the most important step. Make a good, very good, second book. For those who trust me, those who loved the first one. I have to try my best. 

David Gemmell is regarded as the ‘big daddy’ of modern British heroic-fantasy. Who is your hero?

I don't think I have one. I like so many authors, I learn about them. No-one especially is my hero. Or, all of them are. 

What can we expect next from you?

To finish the Trilogy and make it a great one? The Path of Anger is my first novel. I can do more. I want to make the sequels good enough, even better.  

Do you read other books in your own genre? Who is your favourite author?

I had to read some books recently. I was curious and didn't know so much about this genre in fact. So, I read Pierre Pevel, Scott Lynch, Mark Lawrence and enjoyed it. Especially ‘The Lies of Locke Lamora’ which is a great moment of adventure. 

Do you have any pearls of wisdom that you’d like to share with would-be writers?

Just write. Write, write, continue to write. What you want, when you want. Try to be your own critic first and then, when you will seems ready, go. Even you don't succeed with a story, the next one maybe will be the good one. Writing is not a question of skill. It's a question of will. 

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