Many thanks to Leticia for putting together this interview.
An Interview with Caroline Foulk
Where do you get your ideas for your books? Who or what inspired your idea? CF: My dad Ray is an inspirational person who has worked on a wide range of amazing projects and I have worked alongside him for many years. He is a polymath, practical as well as academic. He wrote a thesis on the great collector Jacques Doucet in the eighties. Every now and again a story comes along that is so powerful it has to be told and this is one of them.The subject propelled us into working on it for more than 10 years firstly as a screenplay and then as a novel. For a time Ray was a collector of art deco furniture - reaching great heights with his acquisitions and exhibitions of items by top French designers. The quality and value of French furniture from around this period is staggering. Ray discovered that the strand of art deco commissioned by and designed for Jacques Doucet, was prized above all the rest. Doucet was also the first buyer of 'Les Demoiselles d’Avignon', known as the first cubist painting and this is the focus and most fascinating part of our story.
How did you develop the plot and your characters? Are your characters based on anyone? CF: Our characters are taken from real life. We have tried to follow true history as far as we possibly can. Certain characters, most particularly Picasso is so well documented that it is imperative to stay faithful to what is known and recorded, to a high degree of 'accuracy.' Where there are blanks in the history we have attempted to fill them in.
Do you write when you're inspired? Or do you have a schedule you keep to? CF: We bounce ideas off each other all the time. There has been times when our creative discussions last for hours and it becomes a really meditative thing, so that we barely stop for breaks even. We work regularly together during office hours and separately at home the rest of the time but inspiration is fickle beast and can come day or night or not at all.
Do you have any advice for aspiring authors? Maybe a piece of advice that stuck with you from your adventure into the world of publishing? CF: Just keep writing. Really don't worry about the quality of it if you are in practice mode. Give yourself freedom to explore. When writing for others raise your game and be as fastidious as you can bear to be.
Tell us a bit more about yourself. How did you know you wanted to be a writer? Who or what inspires you to write? CF: I have an identical twin . She and I shared everything as children - classes, hobbies, friends as well as being room mates.The only thing that distinguished us was the day that I was selected to attend 'the Rosebuds' - a group of elite writers. This changed my relationship with the world and made me wonder if I was a writer.
How much of yourself goes into your writing? Or do you keep yourself separate and base the character on someone else entirely? CF: There is for me a big part of myself in it. You wouldn't necessarily recognise me though. Sometimes I am presenting a self I explore rarely, or aspire to being, or used to be. My compatriots are there too; my children pop up, as well as friends, relatives and acquaintances.
What has helped shape and improve your writing? CF: Masses and masses of reading (in my youth particularly ) and writing practice. Careful critical consideration of anything and everything I have written previously. A fascination with poetry and song lyrics. Being a child of the sixties helped. It was a very creative period. An early inspiration for me was Bob Dylan, who led me into exploring loads of different writers and poets.
What are you reading right now? Do you recommend it or have any other recommendations? CF: 'Selling Hitler' by Robert Harris. Yes its a great read. It is fascinating to see in microcosm how much people will believe if they really want to, especially when large sums of money beckon.
Do your novels carry a message or do you feel it's subjective? CF: Most stories have some kind of moral premise, 'Picasso's Revenge' too. It wasn't especially intentional but ours developed around the notion that money and talent cannot necessarily buy you happiness. Also that you can search in all the wrong places for love and find it may be there under your nose all the time. There are others in there too but I must not give too much away.
What works best for you: Typewriters, fountain pen, dictate, computer or longhand? CF: A combination. Largely the computer these days. I fractured my hand during the writing of the novel and discovered dictation to the computer is very user-friendly these days.