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Meet Screenwriter and Co-Author of 41 Strange Diane Doniol-Valcroze
http://www.bookpleasures.com/websitepublisher/articles/6995/1/Meet-Screenwriter-and-Co-Author-of-41-Strange-Diane-Doniol-Valcroze/Page1.html
Norm Goldman


Reviewer & Author Interviewer, Norm Goldman. Norm is the Publisher & Editor of Bookpleasures.com.

He has been reviewing books for the past fifteen years when he retired from the legal profession.

To read more about Norm Follow Here






 
By Norm Goldman
Published on June 15, 2014
 


Norm Goldman, Publisher & Editor of Bookpleasures.com Interviews Diane Doniol-Valcroze Co-Author of 41 Strange


                                                                                                                                                                                    


Today, Bookpleasures.com is excited to have as our guest Diane Doniol-Valcroze co-author of 41 Strange.

Diane was born in Paris, France. As a young girl, she developed a passion for writing from her father, Jacques Doniol-Valcroze, co-founder of the New Wave magazine Cahiers du Cinema, and from her grandfather, French filmmaker André Cayatte (original The Mirror Has Two Faces). Diane earned a B.A. in English literature from the Sorbonne University, and an M.F.A. in film from New York University while apprenticing on the Lauren Hutton show. She has co-written screenplays for such films as Lionsgate's Penny Dreadful, starring Mimi Rogers, and MGM's Hit and Run, helmed by Enda McCallion and starring Kevin Corrigan. 41 STRANGE is her debut book which she co-authored with Arthur K. Flam.

Norm:

Bonjour and good day Diane:

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer? What keeps you going?

Diane:

Bonjour Norm and thank you for having me on Bookpleasures.com!

I realized I wanted to write at the age of 12, while bedridden for 2 months with a bout of stomach flu. I read Honoré de Balzac’s short story The Unknown Masterpiece and I remember being completely blown away by the extremely vivid, visual, and detailed imaginary world. I remember feeling exhilarated and forgetting all about my bout with stomach pain. Everything in my bedroom disappeared… my bed, the prescription medicine, the stale smell of illness, the walls… I was utterly immersed in the story and the characters. It was like an adrenaline rush. I still feel the same adrenaline rush to this day while writing, that’s what keeps me going!

Norm:

I believe your mother tongue is French. What motivated you to study English Literature and how easy or difficult was it to make the transition?

Diane:

I was born and raised in Paris. From a very young age, I was bathed in American culture. My father Jacques Doniol-Valcroze, co-founder of the Cahiers du Cinema, loved American as well as British films. The Cahiers championed the works of Hollywood films and directors such as Alfred Hitchcock, Robert Aldrich, Howard Hawks, Nicholas Ray.

I spent a lot of time in Parisian non-air conditioned theaters watching those movies in their original language. If they were adapted from a novel, I would read it in its original language with a French dictionary on my lap! Later in my teen years, I discovered the short stories of Stephen King, in particular Skeleton Crew. It made a big impression on me. There was so much visceral and raw emotion in just a few pages. That was the trigger for me to go to Sorbonne University and study American/English authors. So for me, it felt somehow natural to make the transition.

Norm:

What do you think makes a good story and why do people like to read fiction?

Diane:

I think a suspenseful plot. Something that makes the readers turn the pages and they don’t want to stop. I would say “suggest” and “show less”… Keep it mysterious.

I think people like to read fiction because they are generally eager for the exhilaration of exploring a world they don’t know. There’s a sense of freedom. And I believe people deeply desire this.

Norm:

I believe 41 Strange is your debut book. Why have you been drawn to short stories? As a follow up, are there aesthetic advantages and disadvantages peculiar to the short story? Does it have a form?

Diane:

I always loved short fiction, especially the Grimm Brothers’s Hansel and Gretel and Chatrian-Erickman’s Fantastic Tales.

Aesthetically, as a principle, I think the short story requires you to be concise in just a few pages with an economy of words, which is usually 1000 words or less for a “short-short.” It is like a sprint. So, it is a big challenge and that is why I think it is exciting. I believe it offers a lean purity in storytelling. It reduces everything down to its essentials, which can help an author get a point across in a punchy, direct manner. And most important of all to me, it should make an emotional connection to the reader. The great Edgar Allan Poe said the short story was ideal because it could create “an exultation of the soul.” That sounds good to me!

I do believe the short story has a classic form. A beginning, a middle, an end. Hopefully it has a satisfying resolution. Before the 19th Century, it was not generally considered a distinct literary form. But short stories have come a “long” way, so to speak!

Norm:

How was writing short stories different from your typical format of screenwriting?

Diane:

In writing 41 Strange, my co-author Arthur K. Flam and I felt liberated from the usual constraints of screenwriting. Generally when we write a screenplay, we have to factor in the input of the producers, directors, and so forth. There are many voices. The final result on the screen sometimes varies from what we originally intended. This collection of short-short stories was something that we wanted to create for a long time. It was a real labor of love. Untouched by any outside influences, which is why I love to write fiction.

Norm:

How did you collaborate with your co-author Arthur K. Flam in writing these short stories? What served as the primary inspiration for the book and where did you get your material for the stories?

Diane:

I’m very grateful to have Arthur K. Flam as a collaborator. He’s a fantastic guy to work with, full of ideas, and he’s constantly pushing the limits.

Arthur and I spoke in great length about the concept of the book at first, then it took a span of 2 years to put it together, penning the 41 stories.

We would work in the lonely hours of the wolf, between 3:00 AM and 5:00 AM, in the pre-dawn darkness, when you experience that eerie silence, when everything makes you jump, even the sound of the ice machine! Although there’s no golden rule we follow, one of us usually writes the first draft, then the other writes the second draft and so forth… Who begins that cycle really depends on the story. The main thing is, we have fun.

The material for the stories come mostly from the combination of our imaginations and nightmares. And I’m also very influenced by horror movies, and the Twilight Zone series is very dear to my heart.

The primary inspiration for the book was meeting Ray Bradbury, at the writer’s strike in Los Angeles in 2008. Arthur and I had the honor to shake his hand and talk, and somehow this “chance meeting” triggered 41 Strange. We felt immensely motivated after this encounter.

Norm:

What helped you and your co-author focus when creating these tales?

Diane:

I think our focus came from the passion to create stories we ourselves would love to read. Also, a lot of coffee helped to stay focused!

Norm:

Did you write any of the stories to express something you believe or was it just for entertainment?

Diane:

I believe I express my fears and try to lock them in the prison of the page, so to speak. If they are entertaining, the better!

Norm:

Do you ever suffer from writer's block? If so, what do you do about it?

Diane:

Oui, souvent! I splash my face with water, look in the mirror and try to remember Hemingway’s famous words of consolation, “Do not worry. You have always written before and you will write now.”

Norm:

Do you feel that writers, regardless of genre owe something to readers, if not, why not, if so, why and what would that be?

Diane:

Yes, I feel the writers owe honesty to readers. I think it is a handshake between the writer and the reader.

Norm:

What would you like to say to writers who are reading this interview and wondering if they can keep creating, if they are good enough, if their voices and visions matter enough to share?

Diane:

When writing, don’t think about the “marketing" or if it is going to be “commercial” or not. Just listen to your inner voice and go for it if you have a passion that burns inside you. This is your chance to be truthful.

Norm:

How can readers find out more about 41 Strange and your endeavors?

Diane:

They can find out more on our website, 41Strange.com

We do have a blog there and links to social media, Twitter and Facebook. We also have a Virtual Book Tour starting soon in early July.

Norm:

What is next for Diane Doniol-Valcroze?

Diane:

Arthur K. Flam and I are currently working on Volume 2 of 41 Strange.

Norm:

As this interview draws to a close what one question would you have liked me to ask you? Please share your answer.


Diane:

Have I ever visited Montreal? And I would say, yes, I adore it!

Merci Norm pour cette interview, ce fut un plaisir de parler avec vous.

Norm: Bonne chance and merci


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