Emma Mars, author of the just published Hotelles, which was a best-seller in Europe, talks about her inspiration for the novel, as well as her American debut.
Where did you get your inspiration for this novel?
I was somehow disappointed by erotica I’ve read in the past years. I wanted to achieve some kind of narrative challenge: writing a romance, an erotica and a family saga all in one. So my goal was to mix all that up in a sole story, and I hope the result is a thrilling and sensual cocktail. Readers will decide if the mix is satisfying or not. But it has been the most exciting experience of my writing career.
What was your favorite part of writing this novel?
If I tell you that what I enjoyed the most was the erotic parts, maybe you’d think that I’m bluffing, and you would blush along with me… But this is the pure truth! I really tried to feel what Elle could feel in these moments. And I succeeded, if I may confess such things!
Were your characters mirrored after anyone you know? (loosely or entirely)
Always! Characters are puzzles made up with whoever you meet or live with. But it is hard to say if one of them is the perfect copy of someone you actually know. Most of the time, you pick one characteristic of someone, you steal another from somebody else, and from one page to another you build an original character from that living material. All I can say about it is that Annabelle looks like someone I know pretty well.
Your heroine, Elle, was a character that at times the reader sympathized with and then judged. How do you create a conflicting character, which forces the readers to question themselves?
I think I just try to make my characters as ambiguous, full of contradictions and complex as we all are. If you felt this way about her while reading, maybe I did my job well!
Did you always want to be a writer? If so, what influenced you on this path?
The very first time I had this idea, I was nine. My teacher back then had just congratulated me in front of the whole class about a sentence she found nicely written. And I remember that I thought from this small event, “oh, maybe this is something I’m quite gifted at. Maybe I should work on it a little further.” I was not a sporty girl, a good dancer or musician… So I clung to this small skill all these years, till now!
Can you explain your style of writing? Why did you choose to format your novel in this way?
I like “impure” forms of novels. I mean, when novels mix different kinds of voices and forms of expression: stories of course, but also speeches, letters, etc. So the moment I first thought about this piece, I also had the desire to feed it with anonymous notes. I like when the reader has to work along with me in the narrative process, and has to imagine who is speaking.
What is next for your career? Any upcoming works to look out for?
I’m working on an historical drama, set during WWII, mostly taking place in Poland. Less fun than Hotelles, but also very thrilling, I hope. My other releases to come in the US (later this year) are the two following volumes of the Hotelles trilogy.
The concept of your novel is a subject not yet covered by other authors, how important do you think it is to be original in your work as an author, instead of following the status quo?
I guess that no subject is ever completely new. Each story is made of hundreds and thousands of stories that were written before. So I’ll never pretend to write something purely original. But the way you tell that very story can be hundred percent yours (at least, ninety percent!). That’s what I try my best to achieve.