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Interview with Sam Riversag

Updated: Jun 11

About the author:

Born in Versailles, Sam Riversag discovered her passion for literature at an early age when she would lock herself away for several hours reading, like her father who was a great admirer of Proust. She began writing at the age of eight, her first compositions being about the absence of a mother and the pain of separation and at thirteen she wrote a series of short stories dealing with the theme of friendship between a small boy and a dog. During her student years she turned her hand to poetry and produced an anthology without the intention of publication, writing at that moment being for her a mere distraction, an adjunct to her other artistic pursuits of music and painting. After completing a degree in law, she launched herself into her legal career before being once more tempted by the urge to write. Having travelled widely, the experiences she has lived in various countries have further animated her to share her memories in print. Another major influence is the world of cinema where she was impacted by Hollywood with its charismatic characters, its counterbalancing between right and wrong and its stories of the impossible love. After returning from a tour of the Amazon, she completed a novel which featured as its main character a sensitive and somewhat romantic cop tasked with solving a complex mystery in order to save his son. But even before publishing, she attended a convention on the British t.v. series “Sherlock” with Benedict Cumberbatch and in next to no time a new work criticizing the addictive nature of social media is produced immediately following the first. The book was published discreetly on line and has since gained enormous success thanks to word of mouth and has forced the author to reschedule her literary projects due to the fact that readers demanded a sequel just when the crime thriller was due for publication. The empathy the public felt for the two main characters was constantly reflected in their comments. Thus the Mary and Lola series was born; original, funny and highly addictive, critics are now speaking in terms of a new style of writing.

The Interview:

- How did you hit upon the idea of placing the Prince Charming myth in the context of social media? - It came by quite by accident really. Being a fan of the Sherlock series, I attended a convention and obviously the person who everyone wanted to see was Benedict Cumberbatch, the star of the series. When I saw a girl leaping up and down and hugging her mother round the neck, her cheeks blushing with joy and crying “Thanks, mum!” while waving a selfie of herself and Benedict as though it were an immense fortune, the thought of basing a novel on that situation sprang to mind and I wanted the main character to resemble her. - And other than that episode, what else has influenced your work? -Theatre has been a great inspiration; the pace of the action, the reversal of situations, the dialogue, the flamboyance of the characters, the actors speaking directly to the audience from the stage…”Waiting for Godot” by Samuel Becket was the inspiration for Mary and Lola’s utopian quest. Godot isn’t coming. The ideal man neither. P.G. Wodehouse’s Jeeves and Wooster combo was a great influence as well: the upper-crust toff, Bertie, always getting himself into a jam and having to rely on Jeeves, the butler, to save the day. I owe a lot to movies for the sentimental angle, the more emotional passages of the story. I borrowed the idea of the impossible romance from the musical “La La Land”, which I try to convey in my own way, funny and offbeat. - Where did you get the idea for the Ouija board séance with Lola? And more particularly, why doesn’t she hit it off with Winston Churchill? - I’m not really sure how that occurred to me. But it was a real stroke of luck because it enabled me to develop the theme in a more comic way and I was rather pleased with that. As for Churchill, that was quite spontaneous, probably because I have a deep admiration for him. It’s thanks to him France is a free nation today and that the Allies won the war. Why does Lola give him grief? Well, because she’s Spanish. She’s not from the same culture and can’t understand his insistence. Times have changed. The clash between the two realities creates the comic effect. - Why Benedict Cumberbatch? There’s a touch of Sheldon Cooper/Big Bang Theory about him isn’t there? - Why Cumberbatch? Simply because he’s a very talented and charismatic performer both on stage and screen, a child of the theatre. He portrays the arrogant yet charismatic genius capable of a devastating and sexually appealing logic. There’s such a suave, haunting air about him, a disturbing intensity in his gaze and then that deep baritone voice! He’s seductive in a sort of weird but intellectual way that drives you wild. (It isn’t just me who says that.) He’s got millions of fans all over the world, myself included. Apart from the actor there is above all the man who is good and humane. - At the end of the day, Mary and Lola are quite typical of their generation… - Yes, absolutely. They’re fighters who don’t take life lying down. They want both professional and personal fulfillment. They’re looking for the love of their lives, the real article. They’re a couple of romantics dreaming about a Prince Charming and it’s for that reason their fantasies turn towards Benedict Cumberbatch, because he personifies the type of guy they’re desperately in search of. They want it all: an interesting career, a caring, attentive lover and to be able to start a family. - The ideal other-bit of a pipe dream isn’t it? - That depends on the person. The ideal is subjective. It’s a perspective which is specific to the individual. It exists in our dreams and sometimes the dream can be realized-the dream holiday, the perfect love, the great job, and the dream home…Others set their sights too high to be achieved and end up believing in fairy tales. Personally I think lack of satisfaction is just part of human nature which is necessary to motivate us to go beyond our limitations, to forge ahead, discover new horizons and in the end appreciate what level of contentment we’ve been able to attain. Love appears in many guises. The ideal form may be a fantasy but love itself isn’t. It exists. The ideal is what stimulates our dreams. That’s its purpose. It’s rather sad to think that some people don’t dream. Human beings have a need for fulfillment, to wish for things. It‘s the driving force of life. Love, sharing one’s life with someone. Perhaps it’s quite simply a question of staying together. - To what degree should you forgive? What are the limits? - The question of forgiveness is most important in our lives because we are often faced with a situation where we must decide to grant or refuse it. You find yourself in that situation with family, with friends, with lovers… - And where should you draw the line? - Again that depends on each individual and their degree of tolerance. It depends also on the circumstances. An action seen as unforgivable by one person may not be so for someone else. We all have our limits. Thankfully! It’s difficult to know what the right response should be in each and every situation. Sometimes you regret the decisions you’ve made. There are some very well-known examples of people remaining deeply in love despite their partners being unfaithful.

Excerpt:

And I’ve still got that bloody cat under my feet! Should’ve left him with Simon as he reminds me of him so much. The more he keeps it up, the more he gets on my wick although to be fair I forgot to buy him his food. Well, tough luck on poor pussy. Besides, he’s fat enough as it is. He’ll eat better tomorrow. No milk today, my love is gone away… He was so cute and adorable when he was a kitten…nothing like the great lump he is now… We hesitated for a while before choosing a name because we wanted to sus “her” personality. We finally opted for Kate since she seemed to have a really graceful and distinguished walk. She had lots of finesse, dead posh. Anyway, Kate grew up and we found ourselves obliged to rename her William. Well…nobody’s perfect. We can all make mistakes. Besides, he/she was our first cat. How were we to know she was a he? I was the first to notice one fine day when I picked her up to give her a cuddle and I suddenly remarked to Simon. “Hey, are you sure we were right to name her Kate?” “Yeah, why?” “Well, there’s just a slight problem.” “Now what’s up? Have you already changed your mind?” “It’s not that! Have a look!” “Oh, shit, yeah…she’s got a thingy.” “We’ll have to change her name!” “Okay, let’s call him Batman then.” “Absolutely no way!” “Mr. Bean?” “No! William, that’s it, we’ll call him William. That way he won’t get fucked up. We don’t want to give him the impression that he’s descending the social ladder.” “You what? It’s a fucking cat! “So? Just ‘cos he can’t speak doesn’t mean he can’t cop on to what’s happening. I mean, he could become depressive.” “Oh, don’t be such a snob!” “It’s got nothing to do with snobbery; it’s a question of psychology.” “Yeah well in that case, call him Harry. Suits him better. He’s a ginger tom. Harry’s a ginger top.” “God, you’re so dim sometimes! William goes better with Kate. William and Kate, ye know?” And so, thanks to me, our pussycat underwent a name change without experiencing the slightest trauma in connection with his social standing or gender identity. Five minutes later, the cat’s continuing to remind me about his food and I’m stricken with remorse. After all it’s not the poor bloody animal’s fault. I shouldn’t be taking it out on him. Come on, he won’t bloody starve to death! But he keeps on bothering me. God he pisses me off! He’s definitely a bloke all right! Okay, a final and vain attempt at resistance. After having tried to ignore him for the last time, I’m so wracked with shame and guilt that I end up sharing my dinner with the poor little bugger. But his continually complaining meows are telling me that he’s not going to settle for that muck! I finally find myself having to dash out in the rain to fetch him a few tins from the corner shop. I climb the stairs loaded down with cat food while congratulating myself for having come back out on top after the break-up. Me, a girl who previously was so behind the times at last become a modern and liberated woman. Down with submission ! Well, almost. I only give in to the opposite sex when it comes to the moggy.



Author Sam Riversag

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