11 January, 2020

#Interview with Sam Riversag, #Author of For a Selfie with Benedict

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 traveled 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.

Interview with Sam Riversag

When did you first realize that you wanted to be a writer/ a storyteller?
I discovered my passion for literature at an early age when I would lock myself away for several hours reading, like my father who was a great admirer of Marcel Proust. When I was little and during my teens, I used to write short stories. Then I got into poetry. Now, I write humorous novels!

What inspires you to write?
For my novel “For a selfie with Benedict”, 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.

How did you come up with the idea for your current story?
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.

Are there some stories tucked away in some drawer that was written before and never saw the light of the day?
The short stories and the Poetry I wrote when I was younger.

Tell us about your writing process.
The characters are my priority. When I’ve got them, everything is following. Indeed, I use real actors I like much and I imagine a story for them.

What is your favorite scene in the book? Why?
It is the Ouija board séance with Lola, and more particularly, when she doesn’t 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.

Did any of your characters inherit some of your own quirks?
Like Mary, I am a fan of Benedict Cumberbatch, 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.

What is your most interesting writing quirk?
Keeping a notebook on the bedside table in order to jot down ideas that suddenly arrive in the middle of the night.

Do you read? Who are your favourite authors and how have they influenced your writing style? 
Shakespeare has influenced me, the actors speaking directly to the audience from the stage, (that’s why Mary speaks directly to the readers), in addition there is a connection with the story (about the Hamlet performed by Benedict Cumberbatch). P.G.Wodehouse’s Jeeves and Wooster combo was a great influence as well, so Lola, proposes various solutions, each one as barmy as the other! Throughout the course of their frenetic and comically zany relationship, Mary and Lola forge a wonderful closeness marked by affection, shared dreams and determination. Helen Fielding influenced me as well, at the end of the day, Mary and Lola are quite typical of their generation…
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.

What is the best piece of advice you have received, as a writer, till date?
Be yourself.

What is the best piece of advice you would give to someone that wants to get into writing?
Write with passion.

What would be the Dream Cast for you book if it was to be turned into a movie?
Emma Watson performing Mary, and of course Benedict Cumberbatch!

If you were to be stranded on the famous deserted island, what three things would you carry? 
My piano, photography of my family, and “In Search of Lost Time “ a novel by Marcel Proust.

How do you spend your free time? 
Travelling and playing piano, going to thetheatre, the cinema, visiting art galleries, discovering new scenery.

Can you share with us something off your bucket list?
Saint Petersbourg, Monument Valley, Norway, Sri-Lanka.

Tell us three fun facts about yourself.
1- I have caught myself talking alone. Maybe I was asking myself a question, looking for a solution for a problem that worried me or was just “observing” a mental note not to forget a pending task. But I surprised myself speaking alone more than once, so I wondered if I were going crazy!
Unfortunately, in the popular imagination there is still the idea that speaking alone is a sign of impending madness, but the truth is that it is not! Albert Einstein, for example, spoke often alone. It is said that he often repeated his words softly. So I don’t worry anymore!
2- Like my heroine Lola, I like fortelling the future, divinatory practices like horoscopes, astrology, crystal gazing, tarot cards, and the Ouija board.
3- I speak English with a strong accent, because my teacher is from Liverpool.

What do you have in store next for your readers?
A novel featuring as its main character a sensitive and somewhat romantic cop tasked with solving a complex mystery in order to save his son. Passion and Betrayal. It is going to be published.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with your readers?
I would like to speak about one theme of my novel: The ideal other-bit of a pipe dream:
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.

About the Book:
Check out the Book
I am Sam, a french author, I wrote a novel For a selfie with Benedict, which tells the friendship of two fans of Benedict Cumberbatch (the star of Sherlock), who struggle to achieve their dreams and find trust, love and happiness in London.

My heroine, Mary, is passionate, she’s juggling work and family. She has a best friend, Lola, whose strength and optimism combined is something so precious, and a boyfriend, Simon, too confident of himself…

Indeed, they are fictional characters representing real people. So the book has touched the hearts of most, because it tells the story of Mary, her hopes, her dreams, her struggles, her mistakes.
Finally she’s a representation of a lot of person in the world out there she can be hardheaded sometimes!
She has everything to be happy about: She is a writer in an English tabloid and her boyfriend is the ideal man, until she discovers that he is cheating on her. Then she takes things in hand...
I’m so thrilled that readers enjoyed a lot Mary and Lola, were kept entertained…
To have so many readers connect with the book is the best thing a writer could hope for.
Thanks to Benedict Cumberbatch, the superstar of the TV show Sherlock!
It couldn’t have happened without him, he inspired me.

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