An Interview with YM Masson, author of When Paris Went Dark
Although written as a work of historical fiction, When Paris Was Dark is, at its core, a memoir of author Y.M. Masson’s early life. Born in Paris in the mid-1930s, he lived through the events of WWII and writes from Alain’s perspective with the authenticity and emotion that can only come from someone who experienced it firsthand. He knows what war does to people, especially to children, and draws his audience into their struggles for survival.
Everyone has a ‘first novel’, even if many of them are a rough draft relegated to the bottom and back of your desk drawer (or your external harddrive!). Have you been able to reshape yours, or have you abandoned it for good?
When Paris Was Dark, A Sliver of WWII History was started eight years ago. It was rewritten/ revised several times until it earned a literary award in the Florida Writers Association RPLA (Royal Palm Literary Award) last October.
Over the years, what would you say has improved significantly in your writing?
With the help of my fourteen-time-published mentor Joyce Sweeney, my writing teacher Marjetta Geerling, and my critic group I met with every Thursday for eight years, my writing improved in all aspects of the art, from structure, to plot, to grammar, to voice, to style, etc. I continue to attend seminars and workshops. I learn all the time in whatever I do.
Some authors are able to pump out a novel a year and still be filled with inspiration. Is this the case for you, or do you like to let an idea percolate for a couple of years in order to get a beautiful novel?
In addition to When Paris Was Dark, I have written two other books that need to be more polished before they are published. It takes me more than a year to complete a book; I have other ideas in mind, but I need to finish what I started.
I have heard of writers that could only write in one place – then that cafe closed down and they could no longer write! Where do you find yourself writing most often, and on what medium (pen/paper or digital)?
I mostly write on a desk-top computer and occasionally long-hand on paper. That happens mostly in revision mode.
Before going on to hire an editor, most authors use beta-readers. How do you recruit your beta-readers, and choose an editor? Are you lucky enough to have loving family members who can read and comment on your novel?
My beta-readers are mostly friends I met on writing conferences or workshops. I also have an editor friend who helps me. When I think my book is clean, I hire a professional editor. Actually I find that two are better than one.
I walk past bookshops and am drawn in by the smell of the books – ebooks simply don’t have the same attraction for me. Does this happen to you, and do you have a favourite bookshop? Or perhaps you are an e-reader fan… where do you source most of your material from?
My favorite bookshop is Barnes and Noble in FT Lauderdale where I live. It is the last of the breed; I go there often to touch and feel the books, see what is new and always end up with a bagful of tantalizing reads. I don’t read e-books; I spend enough time in front of my screen when I write. My stories are based on events I lived through. I use the internet to verify details of specific moments in time.
I used to find myself buying books in only one genre (fantasy) before I started writing this blog. What is your favourite genre, and have your tastes changed over time?
I used to read history books; I evolved to add historical fiction. I have added stories of survival (Mountain climbs, sailing trips, desert, long trails, and nature-based odysseys). I am now reading a lot about the lives and challenges of children around the world.
Social media is a big thing, much to my disgust! I never have enough time myself to do what I feel is a good job. What do you do?
Social media is a big thing, and that is my Achilles heel. The world is telling me I should be on face book. I know they are right, but I have not done it yet. So nobody is helping me with my profile or my platforms. I talk to groups of readers, send books to my friends to talk to their friends, try to get on radio/TV interviews, I must confess not very successfully yet. I hope you will post a positive review, I know you’ll love my book.