This post was originally published at Novelicious.com and is now at WritingTipsOasis.com. WritingTipsOasis.com acquired Novelicious.com in June 2022.
If ever a book could grab our attention with its title alone, it would quite possibly be The Library of Unrequited Love. Here, the debut book’s author, Sophie Divry, talks inspiration and her own daily library habits.
I was writing short stories, this was the last one and it took on a dimension of its own and grew. I’ve spent a lot of time in libraries and it seemed like a very interesting setting for a book because so many people from different walks of life meet in a library. I decided to give the library a voice, to let it come alive in the words of a crazy and eccentric woman.
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Can you tell us a little about your average writing day?
I get up at 8.30 in the morning and work from 10 am to 1pm, more often than not in a university library. I bicycle there. I stop for an hour at lunchtime. I eat a sandwich looking at the birds (I really do observe the birds. I know the difference between a male blue tit and a female blue tit). I get back to work around 3pm. Sometimes I read for an hour or two, then I often manage to write again between 5pm and 6pm. Then I bicycle home. I’ve been keeping up that rhythm, 4 or 5 days a week, for more than three years now and, you know what, you end up with a book.When you are writing, do you use any famous people or people you know as inspiration?
I never use famous people as inspiration. People I know sometimes. It depends on the books.
What was your journey to being a published author?
I met my editor because of the short stories I just mentioned. I had sent them by post to twenty or so publishers, and after twenty refusals, and without really believing in it, I sent them to a handful of other publishers who were less known. Brigitte Bouchard called me up. She was very enthusiastic. Time had passed and I showed her The Library of Unrequited Love. I’ve been working with Brigitte since them. Basically, I was very lucky.
What is your favourite Women’s Fiction book of all time and why?
Oh, that’s hard. No doubt a poem by Louise Labé and A Sketch of the Past by Virginia Woolf. It’s not fiction, but it’s a shattering piece by a writer in full control of her art. Now that I’m thinking about it though, I would say To the Lighthouse, that’s really wonderful writing; free, beautiful and powerful at the same time.
What female writer has inspired you?
I was inspired for a long time by Simone de Beauvoir, Annie Ernaux, Nathalie Sarraute and Albertine Sarrazin. One thing is to be inspired by the lives of female writers. Another is to be influenced by the style of an author, and then it’s irrelevant if the author is male or female.
What is your writing process? Do you plan first or dive in? How many drafts do you do?
The important thing for me is to have a general idea of the book before starting, or rather a general idea of what it might provoke in a reader, what kind of reading experience will it be: something funny, or something heavy, or something immoral, or something tangential. Afterwards, through the writing, the various elements fall into place on their own. Even if sometimes you have to spend time over construction issues, they shouldn’t be the primary concern.
What do you think is the biggest myth about being a novelist?
Alcohol, travelling or drugs are a myth. You can’t write anything good without a well-ordered life. The moment one starts to write life sort of stops. You have to have lived beforehand.
What advice can you give to our readers who want to write a novel of their own?
Read a lot. Write a lot. Work a lot.
What are you working on at the moment?
The novel I wrote between 2010 and 2013 will be published in the autumn of 2014. It’s the story of a French woman, the story of a simple destiny, a comfortable life, a life that was both perfectly successful and perfectly absurd. Since the start of this year, I’ve been writing something new, with a subtler narrative landscape, with masses of crazy tangents. It’s going to be very different from the other books, I’m incapable of writing the same thing twice.