Wednesday, November 4, 2015

What's Worth Sharing with Readers: Guest post by Laurent Guillaume

Laurent Guillaume is a multiple-award-winning French writer and former police officer. In law enforcement, he worked anti-gang, narcotics, financial crimes, and served in Mali as advisor to the local police. His first novel to be translated into English is a hard-boiled PI story set in West Africa: White Leopard, published by Le French Book (translated by Sophie Weiner)

Laurent Guillaume:
What’s worth sharing with readers? 

The power of a novel lies in its ability to create emotion in readers. Whether those emotions are positive or negative isn’t really the issue. I don’t take kid gloves with readers in White Leopard when depicting Solo’s fierce feelings and the violence he uses and is subjected to. The main character’s raw sexuality says much about how far he has drifted. I didn’t want to sweeten things up. This violence is part of the novel, it’s something I experienced for years, and now that it has calmed a little in me, I wanted to recount it. Solo is perfect for that. He is both a factor of chaos—wreaking havoc wherever he goes—and someone who is very sensitive and emotional. He’s a bit my Madame Bovary.

One day, a great writer (Jean-Noël Pancrazi) gave me a wonderful piece of advice. I had asked him if he thought my writing was too wordy and if I should refine my style. He said he didn’t think in those terms. He felt I was holding out, that I wasn’t entirely letting go. “Whether your style is wordy or sparse isn’t really important. It has to be what you really are. So let yourself go. If there are too many adverbs and too many adjectives, it doesn’t matter. If it is too violent and raw, it doesn’t matter.” So I let myself go in White Leopard. It’s violent and harsh, but it captures the emotions and reality of Mali. Jean-Noël was right. There is no room for self-censorship.

Emotion is what kept me going all those years in the police force. Cops face life’s seedier sides all the time, but sometimes you experience moments of rare intensity, with laughter or tears. That is what is worth sharing with readers in novels: humanity.


About the book: WHITE LEOPARD By Laurent Guillaume
Hard-boiled African Noir. Everything is possible and nothing is certain. A man torn between two continents finds himself in a dangerous confrontation between tradition and corruption. Solo is a former cop who ran away from a dark past in France to start his life over again in Bamako, Mali, as a PI. An ordinary case turns out to be not so ordinary. The drug mule gets her throat slit. The French lawyer is too beautiful and too well-informed. The cocaine is too plentiful.

WHITE LEOPARD (Le French Book, November 2015; $16.95) was first published in French. The story was inspired by a real case that occurred while the author was stationed in Mali as advisor to the local police.

For more information about White Leopard visit: date: November 19, 2015

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