The first thing that comes to mind when I think of my “lab” is a big warehouse where everything is “thrown around”, texts, books, objects and other paraphernalia. They all have etiquettes and a temporary identity: childhood, guilt, pleasure, love, sadness, old age, summer, hesitation, separation. There also are parts of dialogues, old pictures, strange scenes which I have picked up from the streets, things of doubtful use, sounds and senses, old clothes, or new and unworn ones, in different sizes, some old and some others waiting to be worn by people that haven’t arrived yet. This warehouse is a parallel word which keeps being enriched, keeps being refreshed, there times that part of its content combined with something new and creates a paragraph, a page, a chapter which “finds its place” into a book, while others wait for their time, which might never come. This warehouse traces back to my childhood, even before that, as I always tend to subtract anything that seems impressive, anything that seems to have some interest, I immediately move it to my warehouse lab. Perhaps in the future a witty phrase, an image, a comment, might bring to life a plot, a character, an atmosphere.
A novel writer is above all a collector, the experienced novel writer learns how to turn to his advantage the objects of his collection.
I never write a novel knowing the plot from the start, I let my characters lead me, sometimes they can be misleading, irresolute, creeping, dark, more adventurous than I planned them to be. In my last novel “White revenge”, their past was very complicated. They came up with many unsolved enigmas, and I had to go down with them in a bottomless well (or so it seemed at the time). Complicated, full of ambiguity, especially the main character, I learned a lot from him and I went through a lot with that guy. I had to watch 50 film noir to find the lines which he would utter on the critical moments, I went twice to Marseille in order to describe the landscape, I read all the memoirs of the veterans of the French Legion. The characters I chose take me into new worlds, the same happen with my novel “All on Zero” which is being set into different kazinos – a plunge into the world of gambling and addiction. Every book is an adventure. Presently I write of a man who suffers from a rare mental disorder which make him very generous but also very dangerous.
Now, like before, I use my lab, my lab helps, there are notes, pieces of dialogues, photographs that I have taken from different parts of the world and memories that are combined and make up the story.
I am not in a position to say when a book starts and when it ends. From a time distance I can spot when an idea or a an impulse, a word with a vague meaning but a certain ambience starts being blend with my themes but one can never be certain for the result.
I suppose that when a fictional world is being constructed is like fish swimming in a river, (to use a metaphor) and I had the luck to watch them for a while, before they disappear, but at the start the river is not visible, only the fish, later you start to see the bank of the river, its direction, the nature around it and the sky.