Haitian novelist and poet, Makenzy Orcel feels, that a good writer is also an avid reader. Born in Port-au-Prince in 1983, the author constantly travels between Haiti, the US and France where his publisher, Zulma Publishing house, is established. He received the Prix Thyde-Monnier from the “société des Gens de lettres” for his first book ‘Les Immortelles’ (The Immortals / Under the Peepal Tree), which is a very moving work of fiction about the Haiti earthquake of 2010. Through his third and latest novel, ‘L’Ombre animale’, the author gives voice to the voiceless and the deprived, and creates a powerful chorus of love, violence and hope. Also Read – Add new books to your shelfWhat inspires you to write?Life. My travels. My readings. My anxieties. My questions. My childhood in Martissant, an area in Haiti where I grew up with my mom. Writing is an ambiance, a celebration, a melting pot of imaginary worlds. How do you develop your plots and characters?In the process of writing, the concept of a character – even though he’s a central one and impacts all situations – might be a secondary concern, it depends on the writer’s goal. As far as I am concerned, my priority is to create a new language, a space where poetry embraces the novel. The plot, the protagonists, the surroundings, everything is at the service of the language. Also Read – Over 2 hours screen time daily will make your kids impulsiveTell us about the protagonist in your latest book. Was there a real-life inspiration behind him or her?The protagonist is a mirror through which the reader can see himself. If he doesn’t, it means there is a problem. We don’t write without the reality. The “literature creator” is made to make us dive into the deep layers of the reality, give us the world to see, to sense. The narrator in my latest novel ‘L’Ombre animale’ (Animal Shadow) speaks from the other side. Death is here, it’s always been here since the world was born. But what does death have to say about life? What space to give to the memory of those who left? Can the visible and the invisible inhabitate the same body? These are a few questions my novel tries to answer, among many others. How many hours a day do you write?I write all the time in my head. I think of sentences, characters, of everything and I take notes. The book I am writing never loosens its grip on me. Which books/ authors have influenced your writing?Many of them have– Jacques Stephen Alexis, Garcia Marquez, Joyce, Baudelaire, Rimbaud, Céline… My books are like dialogs with them. A book that had an impact on you is a book that helped you write better. I humbly inherited all great pieces of literature that I have read. No God, no master. Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?Sometimes I do but I don’t have to do anything about it. Once published, the book doesn’t belong to its writer. The reading of the same book won’t be the same, depending on its reader and the time… The most important thing for me is to know that it is read and it sparked off emotions and debates. What advice would you give to aspiring writers?To read, read, read, to live with books. Doubt, dream, surpass yourselves, put all your heart into it, and write with your gut.
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