Interview de Sherry Thomas - VO
Onirik -> Littérature -> Interviews, bio et bibliographies -> Dernière mise à jour : le lundi 22 juin 2009.

Jeune auteur très, très prometteuse, qui sera traduite en français dans quelques temps, Sherry Thomas a très gentiment accepté de répondre à nos questions. Découvrez sa sincérité et sa simplicité dans ses réponses et merci à elle de sa disponibilité.

questions et traduction de Callixta

Onirik : You have only recently started publishing books. Have you been writing for a long time ? What brought you to write ?

Sherry Thomas : Yes, I have been writing a long time. I started in 1998, and wrote for 8 years before Private Arrangements sold to Bantam Books, my publisher. My first foray into writing was somewhat accidental, in that I’d never had the intention of writing for publication before. But then I read this romance that displeased me in every way possible and I thought to myself, oh surely I could do better. But the truth was I couldn’t do better, at least not for many, many years !

Onirik : You aren’t well-known yet since you are only starting your career as a writer. Could you introduce yourself to us ?

Sherry Thomas : I was born in Qingdao, People’s Republic of China, and grew up with my mother and her parents. Both of my grandparents had attended English-medium schools in their youth and were fluent in English—I believe my grandfather even knew a smattering of French. Some of my grandfather’s siblings emigrated to the United States in the 1940s. And in the 1980s, when China once again allowed her citizens to study abroad, my grandfather’s sister sponsored many of her nieces and nephews to the States, including my mother. I joined my mother in Baton Rouge, Louisiana in 1988. Currently I live in Austin, Texas with my husband and our two sons.

Onirik : Why did you choose historical novels ? Could your stories be set at some other time ?

Sherry Thomas : Historical romances make for better escapes, I think, because of our distance from the past. I’d like to think that my particular stories could not be set at any time other than when they are set (around the fin-de-siecle). Take, for example, the issue of divorce in Private Arrangements, my debut book. Had I set the story much earlier, a divorce would be unthinkable. Set the story a few decades later and a divorce would barely raise an eyebrow. So it had to take place in a time when divorces were obtainable, but still scandalous.

Onirik : Your story and the way you write reminds us of great writers like Judith Ivory : same period, heroes between France and England like The Beast for instance. I have heard that you wrote reviews on this writer’s books. Is she or any other writer an inspiration to you ?

Sherry Thomas : Thank you. It is a great compliment to me as Judith Ivory is a favorite writer of mine, although I do not dare compare myself to her because she is truly luminous and exceptional. I very much enjoy her cosmopolitan and non-judgmental outlook as expressed in her books and she has such a sophisticated voice. Another writer who inspires me to write better is Laura Kinsale, who is not afraid to tackle dark and painful subjects and writes with a stunning emotional intensity.

Onirik : The theme of your book is difficult. You focus on a marriage failure and you do not hesitate to depict lying or selfish heroes (the heroine notably)… Is this meant to show a situation which is very close to human beings’real life ?

Sherry Thomas : I don’t think it was my intention to parallel life with my story—though all good stories must distill life in some way. The idea for this story—a terrible mistake and its aftermath—arose because I’d read many romances where there was a Big Misunderstanding, in which the hero believed the heroine a slut/cheat/gold-digger when she was innocent as a lamb. So I thought to myself, what if she really did do something wrong ? What then ? A story with a true wrong (actually two, since what he did to her was not nice at all either) at its core is stronger than a story with a mere misunderstanding driving the conflict. And it also gives me interesting characters to work with. How did two otherwise smart people get into such trouble ? And how do they recover from it ? Is a renewed love possible when there has been so much ill-will ?

Onirik : In your novel, the heroine is trying to get a second chance but not to be forgiven. There is no moralizing aspect. Have you tried to state that everybody deserves a second chance ?

Sherry Thomas : I certainly hope there was no moralizing, because no one enjoys being preached to. J But morality is a central theme of the book. Everybody does deserve a second chance, but second and third chances would be squandered if people do not realize where they have erred in the first place.

Onirik : You frequently refer to and make comparisons with mythology in your book. Is mythology an inspiration ? Are you keen on it ?

Sherry Thomas : I find Greek mythology fascinating in that, unlike Christianity, not only are the deities not perfect, but their faults are many and exaggerated. But the main function of the references to Greek mythology in my book is to have my characters’ internal dialogue read as appropriate for the time period. I must use references that are both well-known to my charcters living a century ago and reasonably known to us today. So that leaves me with Shakespeare, Dickens, and Greek mythology, all of which are included as a part of secondary education in most of the English-speaking places in the world.

Onirik : You hero studied in France, has a French accent, and you seem to know our country as well as the European continent. Have you ever visited France ?

Sherry Thomas : I have indeed visited France. More than visited. I studied for a year, as an exchange student, at the Universite d’Aix-Marseille III in Aix-en-Provence. It was and will always be one of the best years of my life. The rest of Europe, however, I only know from research. J I love the French language. I find its construction and syntax and vocabulary enormously appealing—though I have to admit that some of its tenses escape me, since Chinese, my mother tongue, does not bother with tenses. In fact, I used to have the habit of throwing as many French words and phrases as possible into my manuscripts. I had to unlearn that habit, because it was too self-indulgent.

Onirik : On your internet site, you announce the translation of your book into French. Can you tell us more about this ?

Sherry Thomas : Yes. Private Arrangements will be translated and published by J’ai Lu. The deal was made very recently (in March of 2008) and I have not even received the contract yet. The contract calls for publication within 18 months of the signing, so I imagine Private Arrangements will go on sale sometime in 2010. It was a huge thrill to sell the book to France, because I have such fond memories of the country, and because I will be able to read the translation. (My agent tells me that typically French publishers cut the length of a book by 10-15%, so it would be interesting to see which portions get the knife.)

Onirik : Your second book will be released next summer. I am looking forward to reading it. Is there a link with this one ? What does it talk about ?

Sherry Thomas : My second book, Delicious, is a stand-alone book. It is also a story about second chances, though unlike Private Arrangements, neither the hero nor the heroine does anything particularly wrong to each other. Their separation is caused more by the difference in their social standing : He is a rising politician, and she is a lowly cook. I call it a Cinderella story. They meet on a memorable night. She disappears. He searches for her everywhere and finds her in the most unexpected place : his kitchen. As for whether there are links between the two books, the short answer is yes. The long answer is yes but…A certain character from Private Arrangements makes an uncredited cameo appearance in Delicious and I hope to expand upon that connection in the future.

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