In the hall of the Gallimard Editions are the portraits of all the authors of the literary season. In the middle of these photos with identical framing and dark background, that of Carole Martinez catches the eye: in the green setting of a garden, sitting with her feet on a table, eyes closed, she tends her face towards the rays from the sun. The promise of a nice side step. She arrives happy with the fresh news announcing her book in the first selection of the Prix Goncourt. “Just before coming, I stopped at 36 boulevard du Montparnasse, where my grandmother, a pied-noir of Spanish origin, was a janitor, to say thank you – even though she was long dead. Without her, I wouldn’t be here. “
This grandmother brought into her dressing room, and into her granddaughter’s mind, the marvelousness of a world where you should never look in the mirror at midnight on pain of crossing the devil there; this “Extraordinary storyteller” instills in the child a taste for stories. However, it was only at 40 that Carole Martinez published her first book, The Sewn Heart. It goes unnoticed at first, before word of mouth propels it into the best-seller lists with 300,000 copies sold. He will be crowned by the Renaudot des lycéens.
“Very good at missing everything”
What happened between the lodge and this success? Carole Martinez explains with calm conviction that she was “Very good at missing everything” : “I failed to enter all the theater schools I tried and at Idhec, the ancestor of Femis, to write scripts. I wanted to be in a school to become legitimate. Later, during the Capes oral, I couldn’t speak. “ It is to pass a little quickly over two years of a life as a troupe actress, a fascinating experience as a semiologist (which she ended when her mission fell. “Disgusting” to study the worlds of children’s rooms to better sell them cereals), an activity of corporate journalist, the publication of a thriller for young people, written in three weeks to console himself for his silence in Capes, and success the following year in said competition.
Having become a teacher, she no longer writes: “The students are occupants and so are the characters. Impossible to have them all in mind. And then I didn’t feel authorized. “ The authorization will come from Laurent, her husband, who has confidence in her: Carole Martinez takes a year to sleep on paper The Sewn Heart, which she has been telling for years to her relatives or not so close, her “Ears”. “In the maid’s room where I went up to write, it was difficult at first to set up the sets, but then it was enough to push the door to enter this second world. “
This flamboyant woman had to fight her taboos to discover her rights as a demiurge, such as that of going back over written chapters in order to transform a character as she pleases. His second novel, From the Field of Whispers, won the Goncourt for high school students in 2011. Will follow The Earth that leans (2015) and, in this return, The wild roses. All draw constants, like borrowing from tales. “I love these modest, timeless and universal stories that accompany us all our lives. “ At the center of his stories are always women “Because my grandmother and my mother are essential characters and, as a child, I lacked heroines in novels. As a sculptor may like to represent the muscles of men, I prefer the bodies of women. “
Recurrence also that the figure of the imprisoned woman, with for paroxysm the recluse of the Domain of Whispers. “It is always a question of freeing oneself, of finding a way or a voice to manage to flee. Personally, I spend my time trying to get out of it, putting my energy into trying to escape. Writing allows it. I am nourished by childish terrors and everything that helps get through a night: rituals, beliefs, magical thoughts and childish prayers. “
A future novel about sleep
All different, his books respond to each other, like the sewn hearts of his latest novel which echo the title of his first. “I like to pull the threads, that everything is woven, weft. Text and textile have the same etymology. I look for identity in the sense of being identical to oneself, which remains intact between childhood and old age. This link of self to self, I also seek it through writing, it is what makes me stay whole. “
Eye to eye, Carole Martinez, who continues to tell her books before writing them, gives us the generous gift of the neighbor. A novel about sleep which, for sure, will keep its readers awake until the end of the night.