Once, I was told that one must never write about a country while living there. The reason is because only once one has left a country can one be objective about it. Objectivity was once very important: do not express your opinion, just tell the story, rookie journalists used to be told by their editors. These days, though, with technology having become what it is, the rule is not to leave out any details about a story as someone else may steal your scoop with a tweet.
I’ve been living in Paris now for … well, I’ve stopped counting the years … but I began writing about France and the French kind of from my first months here when I lived in an attic near to the Pompidou Center and which was six floors up and there was no elevator in the very old building. Not that that bothered me because climbing stairs gave me no problem. Today, it does – a little. But there is an elevator in the building where I live now though it does break down ever so often when I do have to climb the nine floors to my apartment.
At first I only wrote articles about my life here in Paris, but eight years ago I became interested in Dr Marcel Petiot. Why I did I will not go into now, but I began to do research about him and his crimes, and the end result was a book. My ‘Die in Paris’ was published at the beginning of 2013. Dr Petiot was guillotined in 1946 for the murder – slaughter – of twenty-six people during the German occupation of France. The police chief thought that, judging by the amount of human remains which were found in his Paris townhouse, that he had murdered about two hundred people. He remains France’s most prolific serial killer. He lies buried in a mass grave in a cemetery my apartment building overlooks!
Wondering what to write after ‘Die in Paris’, I again settled on writing about France. I wrote a novel – ‘Bella … A French Life’ – which was published in December last year (2013). The novel is set in Paris and the Mont Saint-Michel (Mount Saint Michael) region of Normandy.
Am I finished now with writing about France? No, I’m not, although for the moment I will focus on writing about France for my website and expat sites. But who knows, and seeing that I adore Napoléon and former Prime Minister Lionel Jospin has just published a book, ‘Le Mal Napoléonien’ in which he describes Napoléon as a dictator who had done little good for France, I may just … may just … start writing the thriller I’ve had in mind now for a few years about Napoléon. To be exact about how Napoléon’s English jailers had murdered him.
Read more about Bella – A French Life in the book corner www.fusac.fr/livres