This morning I posted my review for James MacManus’ novel Black Venus. As part of my stop of the blog tour I also was lucky enough to be able to ask the author some questions. Unfortunately, due to real life hitting me over the head, it completely slipped my mind to send in my questions on time. Fortunately, Veronica, the publicist organising the book tour had her own list of questions and was kind enough to share the answers to the questions that were closest to my own. So I still get to present you with a Q&A with James MacManus after all. Thank you, Veronica! And thank you to James MacManus for answering these questions.
What inspired you to write a novel about Charles Baudelaire?
The enduring mystery of his relationship with his mistress and muse Jeanne Duval. From my schooldays on I have been intrigued by Baudelaire’s long attachment to a woman who ruined him yet inspired him to write great poetry.
What do you think made Baudelaire and Duval so toxic together?
He was prone to every temptation that Paris had to offer a wealthy young man in 1842 and she was only too willing to encourage him in every vice. Their life together led to bankruptcy, drug addiction, and alcoholism. But they could not do without each other.
What is the biggest challenge when writing a novel based on historical facts?
You have to get the research right – to be as accurate as possible in setting your book but equally you must always remember that rounded characters and narrative flow are all important. In other words the writer should not allow his research to trump his imagination.
If people could learn one thing from Baudelaire’s poetry what would it be?
That those who feel tormented by their own frailties and despair of life in a wicked and world can find redemption in love and a passion for artistic beauty
What are you working on next?
That’s a secret.
Bio (taken from Thomas Dunne Books): JAMES MACMANUS is the managing director of the Times Literary Supplement. He is the author of Black Venus, The Language of the Sea and Ocean Devil, which was made into a film starring Jonathan Rhys Meyers. He lives in London.