How did you come up with the idea for your current story? Why an homage to Benedict Cumberbatch?
It came by quite by accident really. Being a fan of the Sherlock series, I attended a convention and obviously the person who everyone wanted to see was Benedict Cumberbatch, the star of the series. When I saw a girl leaping up and down and hugging her mother round the neck, her cheeks blushing with joy and crying “Thanks, mum!” while waving a selfie of herself and Benedict as though it were an immense fortune, the thought of basing a novel on that situation sprang to mind and I wanted the main character to resemble her.
Did any of your characters inherit some of your own quirks?
Like Mary, I am a fan of Benedict Cumberbatch, because he’s a very talented and charismatic performer both on stage and screen, a child of the theatre. He portrays the arrogant yet charismatic genius capable of a devastating and sexually appealing logic. There’s such a suave, haunting air about him, a disturbing intensity in his gaze and then that deep baritone voice! He’s seductive in a sort of weird but intellectual way that drives you wild. (It isn’t just me who says that.) He’s got millions of fans all over the world, myself included.
What is your favorite scene in the book? Why?
It is the Ouija board séance with Lola, and more particularly, when she doesn’t hit it off with Winston Churchill.
I’m not really sure how that occurred to me. But it was a real stroke of luck because it enabled me to develop the theme in a more comic way and I was rather pleased with that. As for Churchill, that was quite spontaneous, probably because I have a deep admiration for him. It’s thanks to him France is a free nation today and that the Allies won the war. Why does Lola give him grief? Well, because she’s Spanish. She’s not from the same culture and can’t understand his insistence. Times have changed. The clash between the two realities creates the comic effect.
Tell us about your writing process.
The characters are my priority. When I’ve got them, everything else follows. Indeed, I base them on real actors I like a lot and I imagine a story for them. Shakespeare has influenced me, the actors speaking directly to the audience from the stage, (that’s why Mary speaks directly to the readers), in addition there is a connection with the story (about the Hamlet performed by Benedict Cumberbatch). P.G.Wodehouse’s Jeeves and Wooster combo was a great influence as well, so Lola, proposes various solutions, each one as barmy as the other ! Throughout the course of their frenetic and comically zany relationship, Mary and Lola forge a wonderful closeness marked by affection, shared dreams and determination. Helen Fielding influenced me as well, at the end of the day, Mary and Lola are quite typical of their generation…
Tell us three fun facts about yourself.
I have caught myself talking alone. Maybe I was asking myself a question, looking for a solution for a problem that worried me or was just “observing” a mental note not to forget a pending task. But I surprised myself speaking alone more than once, so I wondered if I were going crazy!
Unfortunately, in the popular imagination there is still the idea that speaking alone is a sign of impending madness, but the truth is that it is not! Albert Einstein, for example, spoke often alone. It is said that he often repeated his words softly. So I don’t worry anymore!
I speak English with a strong accent, because my teacher was from Liverpool.