1 Dec 2014

Author Interview with Claude Nougat

We mortals dream of immortality. Can we ever attain it? The power of money could make the difference. A few win, the great majority loses, but mankind is saved and goes on forever. Can the power of love change the equation?
Two hundred years from now, global warming and local wars have ravaged the world, irreparably damaging the environment. Mankind is threatened with extinction. The ultra-rich, a.k.a. the One Percenters or 'forevers', live in protected areas while the rest faces pollution, diseases and early death. Only the One Percenters can afford all the advances of technology. They benefit in particular from the exclusive Age Prevention Program (APP), that lets them live their whole life looking young till the day they die, at a ripe old age, usually 130-140 years-old. Hence their nickname 'forevers'.
Three friends, Alice, Jamie and Lizzie who are not born 'forevers', struggle to survive. They have only two options to escape extinction: one, fly to the pristine 'Forever' planet, a thousand light years away, or retreat to Antarctica, the last virgin continent. But both options are only open to APP members. Can they make it? A love triangle develops among the three friends, embroiling Jamie in heart-breaking choices. Who will survive?

This is the novel of Man’s threatened existence on Earth and the search for "interstellar" alternatives. It was highly praised when first published in serialized form under the title "Forever Young". 
Excerpt from recent reviews:
- "A very plausible future. Too plausible. Scarily plausible." (Bob Rector)
- "A cast of characters that range from fascinating to despicable." (Marsha Roberts)
- "A prophetic view of our future. Compelling from start to finish" (Lit Amri)
- "A growing tension among the main characters as the fatal end approaches." (C.E. Rodriguez)
- "A thought-provoking, confronting read." (Alana Woods)


Hi Claude! Can you tell us a little about your latest book.
Gateway to Forever takes a good look at the future, it explores what is most likely to happen down the line, after global warming and local wars (including the rise of a murderous form of jihad) have worked themselves out, leaving our world in shambles. In that setting, I've tried to imagine what people like you and me would try to do to survive...

What inspired you to write it?
My love for the world as it is...and my fear that it may not be this way for much longer if we don't do something about it! Wars need to cease, peace should come back to the Middle East, heavy industry, the big oil polluters, those who spew out chemicals in the air and in the ground, chemicals that wind their way in our food, they all need to be curbed. But if you throw out statistics at people, nobody reacts. Statistics are dry, abstract. Whereas a novel laden with emotions - that's what climate fiction is all about, and that is certainly how I meant my book to be - could (hopefully) trigger a change, make people more aware of impending doom if nothing is done about it.

Is it part of a series?
Definitely. This is the first in a series that has the potential to go on through many, many books...if readers like and want more. I'm ready!

If your latest book was made into a movie, who would you like to play the main characters?
There are 5 main characters, three "good" ones and two "baddies". Sticking to the good ones, a love triangle develops between them, so you'd need actors that are "compatible": Jamie, an investigative reporter and lover of History, he's slightly intellectual - Jesse Eisenberg would be perfect for him; Lizzie Woods, a golf champion and descendant of Tiger Woods - this could be Connie Britton; and the third, Alice, is a ravishing Swiss nurse - Kristen Stewart with her warm smile and striking hair is an ideal Alice. Actually, those three actors star together in the upcoming American Ultra, an actioncomedy film directed by Nima Nourizadeh and written by Max Landis. Can't wait to see that film!

What made you want to become an author?
I've written all my life! I used to pretend to "print" a monthly magazine when I was 8 years old, I've written my first novel when I was 15 (not to mention poetry and song-writing) and I've never stopped since! My first published book was written in Italian, it came out in 1991 and won many prizes here in Italy (where I live). It was a children's story... My next published book was a romance, still in Italian, and that came out in 2007 and won a lot of praise in the local media.

Name one of your all-time favourite book covers?
Your covers are excellent, Suzy, they beautifully reflect what your books are about. That, I believe is what makes for good covers. Given that criterion, frankly, a lot of covers are good (and I guess a lot more are bad!). I especially like the covers done by that famous book cover designer, Chip Kidd (you can see his talk here on TED) and the book he did for Orhan Pamuk's My Name is Red is a masterpiece!

Name one book that made you think 'wow'? Why did it have such an effect on you?
Tolstoy's "War and Peace". I read it when I was 12, we lived in Moscow then, and it made me dream of a Russia that was (of course!) no more. At the time, we lived in the drab Moscow of the Soviet era, and a book like that could only make you dream of past splendors and, naturally, past disasters (after all, it is about war too!). It's a book that embraces the whole of life, from love to hate. Unforgettable.

Who, or what, inspires you?
Life. People around me. People I read about. And life, life, life...

Where is your favourite place to write?
Home. In an empty room, standing at my desk (I never sit down).

What is your favourite movie that was based on a book?
Dr Zhivago based on Boris Pasternak's book. He won the Nobel prize for literature in 1958, enraging the Soviet authorities. The film is a little different from the book (films always are!) but it captures beautifully the emotions in that book!

Who is your favourite author (s) and why?
Heavens, I've got a whole slew of favorite authors, from 19th century Russians like Tolstoy and Dostoievsky to the moderns like Pasternak and Bulgakov. But don't think I only like Russians! I love English and American and French and German and Italian and Swedish and Turkish and Egyptian authors too. Of course, in relation to my latest book, Gateway to Forever, let me say that my models for that book were iconic science fiction masters like Aldous Huxley, author of Brave New World, and Orwell whose 1984 is still incredibly relevant ("Big Brother is Watching YOU!")

If you could have a dinner party with any authors from any time in history, who would you choose and why?
Orwell, no question about it. I'm fascinated by his writing style or what literary agents like to call "voice" but also his unremitting interest in the world around him. He'd be a great person to chew the fat with and put the whole world situation under review!

Tell us a random fact about yourself.
I've forgotten as many languages as I speak today: my first language was not French (though I'm Belgian-born) but Swedish - we lived in Sweden till I was six. Next was Egypt, and I went to school for the first time (I was late starting school!) and learned my mother tongue at last (French) but also acquired a smattering of Arabic. Next stop: Russia where I learned English (in the American school at the American Embassy - at the time, us foreign kids were not allowed into Russian schools) and also some Russian. Next: Colombia, so it was the turn of Spanish. Next, New York, (Columbia University) and I learned some German. Finally, Italy, and I learned Italian. Add all this up and consider that I have totally forgotten Russian, Arabic, German and Swedish due to lack of practice. That has left only English, French, Italian and Spanish in my brain. Four in and four out!

Tell us something interesting about the area where you live.
I live in Rome, Italy. Anything I need to add? Come and have a cappuccino with me next time you head to Italy!


1 comment:

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