Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Argyle Empire's Interview with SR –January 2014

Welcome Everyone! We are happy to present this interview with SR as The Gabriel Trilogy ends and The Florentine Series begins. The interview questions were submitted by moderators of Argyle Empire and the SRFans Twitter accounts from around the world. We forwarded the questions to SR, who graciously responded.


Argyle Empire: Has the Dante Society of America or any other academic institution approached you or commented on the content of the lectures given in the Gabriel Series? If so, what did they think of them?

SR: Hello Argyle Empire. I want to thank each of you for your continued support. It’s much appreciated.

No, I haven’t heard from the Dante Society. But I think the local government of Florence is happy with the increased travel because of my books.

Argyle Empire: If Julia could tell your readers anything once they've finished all the books, what would she say?

SR: I think she would say that her journey began with compassion and care. She had compassion on Gabriel the first time she met him, and then later, she chose to forgive him when she could have written him off or held a grudge. I think her life is a testament to what can happen when you forgive others.

Argyle Empire: Was there anything you had to leave out – a scene or character musings – in the Gabriel series that would’ve been fun to write, but just wouldn’t fit?

SR: I enjoy writing Katherine Picton. Anything involving her would have been great. But I also enjoy writing Gabriel when he’s fighting with someone. I think an extended exchange between he and Pacciani at a Dante conference would have been most entertaining.

Argyle Empire: You've created a strong character in Gabriel. He's a hard act to follow up (even though he'll be guesting in The Raven). Do you have concerns that subsequent main male characters may not have the same “wow” factor?

SR: I’m hopeful that if current and new readers give “The Raven” a chance, they’ll like the characters. Certainly, The Prince of Florence has much to recommend him …

Argyle Empire: Prior to the release of Gabriel’s Redemption, it was noted by some that Julia never seems to drive herself anywhere. We know Paul brought this very thing up to Julia in the third book and that they discussed the matter, but we’re curious if this was a character trait deliberately chosen for Julia (and, if so, why)? Or is it that it just never really worked out for Julia to drive herself anywhere?

SR: Julia’s poverty was such that she couldn’t afford a car. She lived without one in Selinsgrove and Philadelphia. And in downtown Toronto she didn’t need one as she could walk to the university. The first time we see her having a car of her own is in “Gabriel’s Redemption,” and she explains what happened next …

Argyle Empire: Would there be a spin-off/novella/special outtake for the other characters such as Rachel, in the future?

SR: A lot of readers have been asking about this, which both surprised and pleased me. I like Rachel and Aaron and would be interested in exploring their story. I’m glad that readers would like to see more of them.

Argyle Empire: We know that the Gabriel Series literary centerpiece was Dante's work. What can you tell us about The Raven? Are you building it around a different masterpiece?

SR: There are a couple of sources in the background for “The Raven,” including the work of Edgar Allan Poe and Shakespeare’s “Othello.” Botticelli’s “Primavera” will also play an important role.

Argyle Empire: Why did you pick "Raven" for the title of your next novel?

SR: I’m afraid I can’t answer that at the moment, but the title has more than one meaning, which will become clear later.

Argyle Empire: What made you tap into the paranormal world?

SR: The Gabriel Series Trilogy pursues themes of forgiveness, hope, and redemption. In “The Raven,” the primary themes are justice and mercy. Of course, like all my writing, hope and redemption will also be present, but I wanted to pursue darker themes and it was necessary to do that in an underworld.

Argyle Empire: Your novels so far, (as well as The Raven) have a great deal of action occurring in Florence. Do you have any other locations in mind for future novels?

SR: France and Spain come readily to mind. I’ve always been fond of Paris and Barcelona.

Argyle Empire: When you start writing a book, do you already know how the story ends?

SR: Yes. I think this is essential – you need to have a goal in mind.

Argyle Empire: Your novels have large doses of sensuality and eroticism, but also a strong moral and religious component. Have you been criticized for using both aspects?

SR: Yes. I’m chuckling as I write this because writers receive criticism for a whole host of things, some of which is completely unrelated to writing. 

If there were a line in the sand I would draw, it would be this one. Our culture wants to chop human beings up into two parts – body and soul - and treat those parts as if they have nothing to do with one another. Consequently, people want eroticism without spirituality or spiritually without eroticism.

I reject these alternatives in favour of a holistic view of a human being, such that body and soul are integrated and inseparable. So sexuality and spiritually go together in my writing because I think they go together in human beings. The sacrament of marriage is one example of this. The transcendent ecstasy of an orgasm is another.

I’ve written about this here:

And here:

I should mention that if you listen to the music of Mumford and Sons, you’ll encounter songs that embrace both eroticism and spirituality. Certainly, if you read the novels of Graham Greene he includes both. And Dante’s love of Beatrice is inextricably linked to his love of God. Recall that she’s the one who worries about the state of his soul when he approaches middle age, and she begs Virgil to guide Dante through Hell.

So in summary, this is what I write and I’m not likely to change.

Mumford & Sons - Below My Feet

Argyle Empire: Do the literary and art references incorporated fit in after you imagine the scene/dialogue or do you write a scene or dialogue to talk about them?

SR: Both, but it depends on the scene. Sometimes a scene lends itself to an artistic reference from the outside and on other occasions, the reference comes to me after the first draft.

Argyle Empire: What subject would you *not* choose to write about for a novel?

SR: Actuarial science and taxation are subjects I’d avoid.

Argyle Empire: As music is an integral element of the Gabriel novels, we’re wondering whether you're a musician yourself? If so, which instruments do you play?

SR: I’ve been known to play an instrument on occasion, but I’d rather not toot my own horn.

Argyle Empire: If you could entertain one author that has influenced you or your writing for dinner, and pick his/her brain - who would that be, and why?

SR: Dante and Virgil would be excellent dining companions, but no dinner would be complete without Beatrice.


All our thanks to Sylvain Reynard for agreeing to the interview and, as always, for giving such thoughtful responses. Thanks also to the other moderators who submitted questions. We hope you enjoyed it!

~Cranberry, Mango, Iris and Coco
Argyle Empire

SR like's Christopher Walken's Cow Bell, so how about his Poe? ;-)

Edgar Allan Poe: The Raven (Narrated by Christopher Walken)

Link to The Florentine Series by Sylvain Reynard Pinterest Board

Link to Songs in or inspired by The Florentine Series by Sylvain Reynard Youtube Playlist

Translations of Interview:




Portuguese Brazil:





Sheila said...

This is a great interview and I really enjoyed SR's thoughts about how different aspects of the human emotional and physical experiences (especially with regards to sex) are compartmentalised by our society as though any co-dependence is unlikely. Thanks for this, SR. Fortunately, most of us know differently. I am also looking forward to reading The Raven, which is right up my street.

Thanks ladies for enabling this, and thanks to SR for taking part

Sheila x

Schedar said...

His interviews are always very interesting to me, I enjoy his opinions and how he sticks to them! I can imagine an outtake between Pacciani and the Professor would be something, but if it were up to me I would love to see more of Katherine Picton.

I couldn't agree more with his view on Hope and Redemption, I'm sure his explorations on The Raven of justice and mercy will be just as enthralling. Personally I can't wait!

Thank you so much Argyle Empire for this great interview, infinitely grateful to SR for answering all your questions.

Great job!

Schedar G.- The Breakfast Blog

linda d said...

I am so excited for The Raven. The Gabriel series continues to be my favorite of all time!! You guys are the best spot for a Sylvain Reynard groupie to hang out in :)

Elena said...

Great interview, ladies! I love it!

I particularly love the point where SR talks about the holistic view of humans beings, because this is exactly one of the many reasons why I love SR's writing -- he writes about the body and the soul as a whole and to me that's truly beautiful and meaningful.

Thanks for a great interview! Looking forward to The Raven.


Unknown said...

this is such a interview. thank you so much

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