A while back, Big Thrill Magazine ran a really interesting interview with Laurent Guillaume by thriller writer Steven P. Vincent. Here are some highlights. Please do visit Big Thrill to read the full interview.
- Can you tell our readers a bit more about WHITE LEOPARD?
In 2009, a Boeing 747 unloaded some mysterious cargo in northern Mali and got stuck in the sand trying to take off again. The plane had just delivered several tons of cocaine that was headed to Europe and the Middle East. Investigating this case, we uncovered an extremely well organized network of Colombian and Spanish drug traffickers that settled scores with dollars or a chainsaw, depending on how much opposition they got. I had wanted to write a novel about the drug trade in Africa for a long time...
- What struck me about WHITE LEOPARD was your vivid description of Mali. Can you tell us about writing in a place you’re familiar with, but not actually from?
... It takes time to see what lies beneath the postcard, to see the stark reality of the people who live there. I hope that I managed to do this, although I’m sure I missed things. More than a mystery, WHITE LEOPARD pays homage to the people of Bamako, a mixed crowd in overpopulated streets, who never stop smiling and feeling happy, despite the harsh conditions of their daily life.
- You’ve written about things you’re familiar with–Mali and police work. Was there anything in WHITE LEOPARD that challenged you a little more?
The hardest part for me was to project myself into the mind of a protagonist of mixed racial background. In addition, I wrote in the first person, which was something new for me. This type of writing created a kind of intimacy with Solo, to an extent that I had not imagined possible...
- Our readers are always interested in the writing process. You write full time, so what does your average day look like? How do you approach writing a novel?
...I get up at seven in the morning, eat a hearty breakfast and work out for a good hour. Back at home, I sit down in front of my computer and answer my email. Then I do some research, and when I feel ready, I open up Word and start writing. I generally write until four in the afternoon, when I read to relax and find a change of pace...
- I’m curious about the process of working with a translator. Is it a smooth process or does it require some hard work to make it work and, ultimately, ensure a better book?
... As far as my understanding of English allows, Sophie did an excellent job. I’m not surprised, because throughout the process, she showed great rigor and a real interest in the topic of the novel: West Africa. I’m very happy with the result.