Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Location Inspiration by Collin Kelley

Collin Kelley is the author of novels Conquering Venus and Remain In Light, a 2012 finalist for the Townsend Prize for Fiction. His poetry collections include Better To Travel, Slow To Burn and After the Poison as well as the forthcoming Render. Kelley is also the author of the ebook short story collection, Kiss Shot. A recipient of the Georgia Author of the Year Award, Deep South Festival of Writers Award and Goodreads Poetry Award, his poetry, essays and interviews have appeared in magazines, journals and anthologies around the world. He lives in Atlanta, GA. For more information, visit, Facebook at CollinKelleyWriter or follow him on Twitter @collinkelley.
Welcome to Mysterious Writers, Collin. How does location inspiration help you create your novels? 
The Venus Trilogy, which so far includes Conquering Venus and Remain In Light, was inspired by my first trip to Paris in 1995 – specifically a tiny street on the Right Bank that exuded character, mystery and an opportunity for intrigue.
Rue Rampon, located in the 11th arrondissement near Republique Square, became the home base of my main character Irène Laureux, a Parisian widow searching for the man who killed her husband during the chaotic May ’68 riots. Along with a young American ex-pat named Martin Paige, Irène's search takes her all over France, but much of the action is centered inside Irène's apartment and at the Bel Air Hotel across the street.  

When I returned to Paris in 2010 to finish Remain In Light, Rue Rampon had changed very little from my first visit. Irène's apartment building, with its long balcony full of flowers and rooms lined with bookcases, seemed to be frozen in time. A curl of cigarette smoke wafted from an ashtray on the balcony, but the occupant of the apartment was nowhere to be seen. I really wanted to ring the bell and say hello to who lived there, but how do you explain you've co-opted their home as the prime location of your book? The Bel Air, a down-at-heel tourist hotel when I first visited, had been transformed into the swanky Le General. I peeked inside the lobby and snapped a few photos for future reference when I’m writing the third book.

While most mysteries and thrillers that take place in Paris have their suspenseful moments at the Eiffel Tower or other landmarks, I wanted to explore and recreate a real Parisian neighborhood that was off the tourist map. The narrow Rue Rampon was an unlikely choice, but in the evenings when the traffic has calmed and there are the sound of distant voices, sirens and music, the street transforms into a noir-ish dreamscape where just about anything – including murder – could happen. 

Conquering Venus and Remain In Light are available in ebook and trade paperback formats from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Powell’s, Smashwords and through your favorite local bookstore.


Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith said...

Hi, Collin, I've never been to Paris or anywhere in Europe. Enjoyed reading about your research visit and how you used it.

Collin Kelley said...

Thank you Marilyn and thank you Jean for hosting me today!

Jean Henry Mead said...

My pleasure, Collin. I can't wait to read your books.

M.M. Gornell said...

I must be a stomach driven person, Collin, because when I read about your trips to Paris, I immediately think about baguettes, croissants, chocolates...I'm salivating...

Great location, and interesting post.


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Collin Kelley said...

Madeline, maybe I should make a Conquering Venus cookbook with all French recipes. :)