The Secret Life of Writers by Guillaume Musso trs Vineet Lal @Guillaume_Musso @wnbooks @vineet_uk

Source: Review copy
Publication: W&N on 22 July 2021 from W&N
PP: 288
ISBN-13: 978-1474619127

In 1999, after publishing three cult novels, celebrated author Nathan Fawles announces the end of his writing career and withdraws to Beaumont, a wild and beautiful island off the Mediterranean coast.

Autumn 2018. As Fawles’ novels continue to captivate readers, Mathilde Monney, a young Swiss journalist, arrives on the island, determined to unlock the writer’s secrets and secure his first interview in twenty years.

That same day, a woman’s body is discovered on the beach and the island is cordoned off by the authorities.

And so, begins a dangerous face off between Mathilde and Nathan, in which the line between truth and fiction becomes increasingly blurred…

I’m thrilled to bring you an extract from the highly acclaimed novel, The Secret Life of Writers. I am desperate to read this book. I’m waiting for the special Goldsboro Books edition to be delivered, but in the meantime, I’m hearing so many great things about it and I knew I had to have it as soon as I read the blurb.

Today I am sharing an extract with you, and I hope you will find it as appetising as I do.


Tuesday, 11 September 2018


The wind was slapping at the sails in a dazzling sky.

The dinghy had left the Var coast a little after r p.m., and was  now flying along at a speed of five  knots  towards  the Isle of Beaumont. Sitting near the helm, just beside the skip­ per, I was bewitched by the spell of the breeze from the sea, completely transfixed as I gazed at the dusting of gold that glittered across the Mediterranean.

That  very  morning,   I  had  left  my  studio  near  Paris to catch the 6 a.m. high-speed train bound for Avignon. From the historic city of the Popes, I had taken a bus to Hyeres, and then a taxi to the tiny port of Saint-Julien-les­ Roses, sole departure point for ferries over to the Isle of Beaumont. Because of yet another delay –  the umpteenth –  on the French railways, I had missed the one and only lunchtime shuttle by five minutes. While I was  roaming around  the quay,  dragging  my case  behind  me, the captain of a Dutch sailing boat who was getting ready to fetch his passengers from the island had kindly offered  to  take  me with him.

So here I was, a young man who’d just turned twenty­ four, at a tricky time in my life. Two years earlier, I had graduated from a business school in Paris, but I hadn’t both­ered looking for a job to  match my skills and  experience. I’d really only done this degree  to  reassure  my  parents, and I didn’t care much for a future played out  to  the  tune of management, marketing and money. Over the last two years, I had juggled the odd job here and there to pay my rent, but I had  devoted all of my creative energy  to writ­ing a novel, Crown Shyness, which had just been turned down by a dozen publishers. I had pinned each of my rejection letters to the noticeboard above my desk, and so profound was my sense of despair – matched only by my passion  for writing –  that  every  time  I drove a pin  into the cork, it felt as though I were plunging  it straight  into my heart.

Thankfully, I never remained depressed  for  very  long. Until now, I had always managed to convince  myself that these failures were merely the precursor to success. To bolster this belief, I clung on to some illustrious examples. Stephen King often talked about how thirty publishers had  turned down  Carrie. Half the publishers in London had found the first Harry Potter book ‘far too long for children’. Before becoming the world’s bestselling science fiction novel, Frank Herbert’s Dune had been knocked back around twenty times. And as for F. Scott Fitzgerald, he had – apparently – papered the walls of his office with the one hundred and twenty-two rejection letters sent by the magazines to which he’d offered his short stories.


But the cracks were beginning to show in this  strategy  of positive   thinking.   Despite   mustering   all   of  my   willpower, I  had difficulty  getting  back  into  writing.  It  wasn’t  blank page syndrome or a  lack  of ideas  that  left  me  paralysed.  It was  the  pernicious impression  of not  making any progress in my chosen field. The feeling of not knowing exactly what direction to take.  I could  have  done  with a fresh  pair  of eyes on my work. Someone who was benevolent yet uncompro­mising. At the start of the year, I had signed up to a creative writing course organised by a prestigious  publishing  house.  I had pinned all my hopes on this workshop, but I was quickly disillusioned.  The  writer leading it –   Bernard  Dufy,  a  novel­ist who’d seen his finest hour during the 1990s – presented himself as a stylesmith, to borrow his own expression. ‘All of your work has to focus on language and not the story,’ he kept saying the entire time. ‘The narrative exists purely to serve language. A book should have no other aim but the quest for form, rhythm  and harmony.  Language  is  the  one  place  you can still be original – because, ever since Shakespeare, there’s been no more stories left to write.’

The 1,000 euros I’d forked out on this writing course – for three sessions, each of four hours – had left me furious, and penniless into the bargain. Perhaps Dufy was right, but per­sonally I thought precisely the opposite: style wasn’t an end in itself. The  essential  quality in  a writer  was knowing how to captivate  their reader  through  a good story. A narrative that was capable of wrenching them out of their own exist­ence, and  thrusting  them deep into  the intimacy  and reality of its characters. Style was simply a means of connecting a nerve supply to the narrative and bringing it to life. Deep down, I didn’t care about  the opinion of an academic writer like Dufy.  The  only  opinion  I’d  have  liked  to  have,  and the only one that would have been important, in my view, belonged to someone I had always idolised: Nathan Fawles, my favourite author.


Doesn’t that sound so intriguing? You can buy The Secret Life of Writers here:
Hive Stores

Guillaume Musso is the #1 bestselling author in France, and his novels have been translated in forty languages and have sold over 33 million copies worldwide. He was born in Antibes, South of France, and currently lives in Paris.

Do read the reviews on this blog tour, they are cracking!

Published by marypicken

Passionate book reader. Love all kind of books from 19th century novels to crime thrillers. My blog is predominantly crime, psychological thrillers and police procedurals with a good helping of literary fiction thrown in.

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