Updated: Feb 5, 2022
Questions by Bénédicte Chazelle, French artist-painter living in Dubai
Q: How do you get inspired to write?
I lived in various places and countries that are dear to me and will forever stay in my heart. Each place is always unique, rich with history and culture. I am someone who is open minded and always trying to understand people's experiences and reactions without any judgments. I love to learn and I love to listen. Hence, my inspiration comes from people's stories and real events. However, when it comes to my characters, they are always imaginary.
Q: What are you currently working on?
A big fan of Agatha Christie, I am currently working on a crime fiction novel, which is set in a wealthy suburb of Paris called le Vésinet. There will be murders going on, involving rich housewives, cheating husbands, a fishy gardener, a stunning young student from Eastern Europe, a lot of gossip, horridly suspicious neighbours and many misleading paths. Luckily, Inspector Maurice Vannier and his freshly graduated assistant, Bertrand, together with Monique, the bubbly secretary, will find 'le vrai coupable!' and save the entire neighbourhood from the bloody murderer.
Q: Will you be writing it in French?
No, in English.
Q: You are Czech but you've spent most of your life living in France, you speak perfectly French, and your next story is set in France. Why have you decided to write in English rather than in French?
I was born in the Czech Republic but left when I was nineteen, right after I finished high school. I have already spent some time living in Germany and spoke German fluently at that time. I wanted to become a lawyer and applied to study at a university in Prague. Unfortunately, I wasn't accepted. Like many other young women in the 90's, I decided to leave abroad and work as an au-pair girl. My first experience led me to London, this is where I learned English. There, I met many interesting people who influenced me and thanks to whom I started to study Japanese. After two years in London, I left for Tokyo. I remember, the first months were difficult as I couldn't read in Japanese. Everything was different from what I knew in Europe. Many times I have mistaken a hair shampoo with a washing liquid. I remember once, I received an electricity bill in my letterbox. Not knowing to read my name in katakana, I have just paid it only to realize some three weeks later that it belonged to my neighbors! I still have to laugh about it. Luckily, the food in restaurants is usually on display behind the window. You just need to point your finger at what you would like to eat and you are served. - Anyway, after two years in Tokyo I spoke, read and wrote in decent Japanese. I left for Lille situated in the north of France where I was accepted to enter directly into the third year of Japanese studies. Don't ask me why Lille. This is a different story for a whole new book!
Q: But you didn't answer my question. Why do you write in English?
You are right! Actually, I first started to write my book in Czech. I loved to discuss the advancement of the story with my French husband and my friends. But not everyone spoke Czech or French. So, I decided to write it in English. Believe me, it was a challenge! In the Story of Lenka book, there are characters of different nationalities. Ideally, I wanted to keep the unique voice of each character. Lenka would be speaking in Czech, Xavier in French, Stan in German and Denise in English. Only the common dialogue would be in English. But of course, the book would be difficult to read.
Q: When can we expect to read your new book?
After some reviews and rewriting (including proofreading and editing). I think, and hope, in September 2022.
Story of Lenka by Monika Fourneaux is available at your Amazon marketplace.
Bénédicte is a French painter living in Dubai. You can see her work at @Benedicte_paintings.
Her next exhibition: FÉMININ PLURIEL" EXHIBITION (PAINTINGS, PHOTOGRAPHY, SCULPTURES) at the Alliance Française de Dubai .