After his successful Mist and The Night of Aquarius (300,000 copies sold in France), Laurent Botti has produced another hit : Fatal Light, THE thriller about the film world.
Iris is thirty years old and a woman with a high-profile life: a respected theatre actress and wife of the biggest action-film star. They live in Navity – the new world capital of film, south of Sydney. Iris makes her charisma felt throughout Navity high society. But her sister has disappeared. Has she run away from home? Been kidnapped? Manipulated?
Julia is fragile and Iris is afraid that her life may be in danger. But she is equally afraid of the scandal-sheets. She does not hesitate: she decides to investigate on her own, without calling in the police. But the investigation turns out to be more complicated than it seemed. Why was Chris, her husband, filmed in the arms of the sister who has disappeared? And what is the connection between her disappearance and those young women whose murders are displayed on the internet?
For Iris, the truth comes at a price. Lies, betrayals, family secrets… and the big screen : in the world where dreams are created, the light is often edged with the blackness of the darkest nights… And the brilliantly lit-up town of Navity could be plunged into darkness.
A brilliant intrigue, technicolour images and famous stars.
Fatal Light, your third novel, is also a thriller; after Mist and The Night of Aquarius, your previous two novels, you decided to stay in the world of suspense. As a reader, are you a fan of this genre? Who are your favourite authors, your essential books? And as an author, why did you choose this genre again?
My first literary revelation – apart from certain classics which I really fell in love with – came when I was thirteen, with Stephen King’s Carrie. My passion for this master of the genre has never really faded. Apart from that, more generally, I like American novels, from East of Eden to Blonde, by way of The Bonfire of the Vanities or Hotel New Hampshire. I much prefer film-like novels to introspective ones. Fatal Light is like a high-tech movie, a cinematic thriller.
In Fatal Light, you describe a new Hollywood in Australia, a sort of film Mecca where everything is possible; anything can happen and nothing is too outrageous. First of all, are you a movie fan? And why did you choose this theme ?
I’m definitely a movie fan… And I’m quite fascinated by the move-star phenomenon, the whole star system, and by the real monsters of the screen: Ava Gardner, Marilyn, Brando… I started to think about a novel based in Hollywood when I was in Los Angeles : I was driving down Sunset Boulevard and I saw this huge poster with Jennifer Aniston, covering a whole building, ten or twenty storeys! And I wondered what she felt when she looked at it as she passed by… And later there were other sources of inspiration : the Cruise-Kidman divorce and her career after that… The end of the reign of the great directors of the 70s – Coppola, Cimino… – because of their outrageous behaviour (though Martin Sheen describes how, during the filming of Apocalypse Now, the production team would parachute cases of cocaine into the middle of the jungle for the film crew), and the coming of the block-buster…
I happened to be on a long visit to Sydney, and suddenly it seemed natural to build Navity, the « new Hollywood » of my novel, on the outskirts of that city, which I think is the most fascinating in the Pacific region, just as Hollywood is set within Los Angeles. And I’m not all that far removed from the reality: Star Wars, Matrix, Mission impossible are all big productions that were filmed, in part or entirely, in Australia… And this tendency seems to be picking up speed.
More generally, in this novel you’ve imagined a society where the image is at the centre of everything.
Personally, I think the image already is the centre of everything today… And I constantly have the feeling of living in an extremely futuristic world, as if in the past few years, what with globalization and the internet, we had plunged into a universe very similar to the one anticipated by 70s films like Green Sun…
Each of your books straddles the line between several genres. And yet in each one there’s a very elaborate structure underpinning the story. How do you work?
The structure by develops itself, unbeknownst to me. Stephen King says that he often starts a story without knowing how it will end, because one of his pleasures as an author is also one of the pleasures of the reader: to discover how his characters will react in a certain situation… I try to work in the same way: everything starts with a murder, or just a corpse… And I throw my characters into the world I’ve created, wondering what is going to happen to them and how they will manage. I don’t know where they’re going and nor, of course, do my readers; and I think it’s fascinating to see where they end up, and how all of a sudden something that happens to them on page 42 finally makes sense on page 380!
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“Laurent Botti built his book as a brilliant script. Now, it’s up to you to make the film of it.”
“His plot — a most efficient mix of traditional thriller, imaginative science fiction and virulent lampoon against the movie pretences — is brilliantly orchestrated.”
“The author handles thriller brilliantly, and you will read Fatal Light’s seven hundred pages in one breath.”
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