Alors, ALLEZ! Interview with Corine Gantz.
What did you think you would be when you were 4? When you were 14?
At four I did not see much of a future in story-telling because that tendency repetitively got me into BIG trouble with my parents. In my family I was known as “la langue musclée" or ‘the muscled tongue’. So a big talker from the start, also big liar. But lying and fiction writing aren’t too far off from one another as it turns out.
When I was 14, a teacher I adored wrote on my yearbook “un future écrivain ou poète de génie?” which translates to “a future genius writer or poet?” I have kept that note and often look at it with fondness. She planted a small seed of hope somewhere in my subconscious. She could see something in me I was unable to see! She believed in me! Teachers need to know that even a few words can have a deep impact in children.
When did you know that you could write?
I still need convincing I can write at all. But I do know that I’ve always needed to. Even young I was a manic journal writer. Everything that has happened to me –real or fictitious--in the last 35 years is written in one of my many journals. I think it was Elie Weisel who said “I write to understand as much as to be understood." That’s exactly how I feel. When I put a crippled, convoluted, nervous thought down to paper, it detangles itself magically.
Do you think you would have been a writer if you'd stayed in France?
Okay, I think I will have to be harsh on my compatriots here. The answer is "No Way Jose", and for several reasons:
One - I would have felt societal pressure to have a career and would not have taken the time to stay at home to raise my kids. French women do not feel complete if they stay at home, as if this would prove that society can go on without them, or that they are not worthwhile women. Being French I struggled to put my career in Advertising and Marketing on hold to raise my kids. But something great came out of it: It turns out motherhood is as lovely as it can be thankless. I started writing fiction out of absolute housewife boredom. I’m almost not kidding. My second son took 2-hour naps during which I felt trapped and house bound, so I wrote during his naps. One nap at a time and in ten months I had a first draft.
Two - The French language is intimidating and extremely complex. I found freedom in writing in a language that wasn’t mine and through the use of which there was no pretending to be literary, I just told stories in simple ways and focused on the characters. Had I tried to write in French I would have censored myself every step of the way and compared myself to Proust and Flaubert. Writing in English is a challenge in the sense that I can’t trust it to be 100 % grammatically correct (I aim for 92%.)
Three - Americans definitely have a ‘you can do anything you set your mind to’ mindset whereas I find the French much more circumspect. I’m convinced I would have been surrounded with people ready to knock some sense into me, remind me of the realities of a writer’s life and given me a 1000 reasons why I should not even try to write.
We know that you have sisters - which is harder, living in a household of women or one of men?
I love being the one female at home. It’s a very privilege condition. Unlike my experience growing up with sisters, there is practically no drama at my house. Or if there is drama it comes strictly from me.
What would you have called your daughter if you'd had one? What would you have done with her that you haven't done with your boys?
I suffered from infertility most of my adult life. Yes I had two boys (at great expense) but to give you an idea, I’ve been hoping for a girl for the last 12 years (even though I know It wouldn’t be a good idea at this point, I’m a ripe 46). I’m not sure what my daughter would have been like, but one thing is for sure, I would have had fun dressing her. Dressing boys is no fun at all.
Does being French have anything to do with your love of color?
My sisters and mother would gag at the idea of introducing turquoise or hot pink to their décor. They think that because I like colors and prints then I must like every color and every print. They are dumbfounded when I will call one flowery print gorgeous and one ugly when it’s all ugly to them.
If the budget were unlimited, would you do your house yourself or hire a decorator? Dream decorator's name?
I’m either a décor idiot or a décor savant depending on separate, independent assessments. My blog is mostly about décor but I could not give you a single decorator name if my life was on the line. Since you are so kind as to offering me an unlimited budget – You’re the Best!– I’ll rush to the Pasadena Rosebowl flea market and bring a semi, then get gallons of vibrant paint color, hire a chef to cook tons of food (I’m thinking Morrocan, my favorite) and invite blogging friends over for a cooking and decorating/painting party.
We know you're a wonderful writer, gardener and cook. Any other secret talents? I’m great at eating!
Name three female role models?
Anais Nin, for her determination to design her life just the way she wanted. Madonna, because she plays a man’s game and beats them at it. And of course Oprah: Yeah, allright, it’s cliché but look at what she’s accomplished and where she came from! Nothing was ever handed to her and she personifies the American dream. I love women who make no excuses for existing. I hope to be more like them some day.
Three male role models? Obama, Obama… and Obama
What's the subject of your next book?
I’m working on two at once and I don’t know which one will be out first. Both have strong female characters that start our weak…hmmm I see a pattern. I just hope I’m not writing the same book twice!
Milles Mercis Corine!!!!!!