Clare Rolfe is a member of Read3r’z Re-Vu and she has just published her very first novel!!! Feeling privileged to be among the first to read this awesome debut, Read3r’z Re-Vu committee members Crystal and Annie are in conversation with Clare for an exclusive blog interview!!!
-Retaining a 4.5 star Rating-
Ten Letters to Delacroix’s Tomb
Jenna flees her life of slavery to fulfil one last desire to re-unite with her beloved Gabriel in the timeless city of Paris. During her journey she is hunted by the relentless Purgers and must confront a dying world bereft of its own history. In her heart lies the fragile hope that Gabriel is still alive after 40 years since they were torn away from each other by the implacable masters, urging her on through crippling doubts and the haunting demons of her past.
Review and Thoughts by Crystal
A great debut novel by Clare whom I am honoured to call a friend. The only way to describe this book is “A heart breaking tale that reaches the soul and will have you still thinking about it long after it’s done” I absolutely love books that keep me thinking even after I’ve put them down and this was definitely one of them. I also absolutely loved how the 10 letters were given in reverse and written in such a way that I could not even guess what would happen (and normally I am really good at guessing endings). When I read this book I found myself thinking about Jenna and her journey even while doing mundane tasks like my dishes (which is normally a time I crave the distraction of YouTube). It was a nice change to just allow my mind to ponder the story and where Jenna’s journey would be taking her. I read the final chapters in great anticipation to discover what it was that she had hidden inside her clothing that was so important that she had to kept so close to her chest (an item that is not revealed until the final chapter of course).
Exclusive Interview by Annie and Crystal
- What was it like writing the scene with Jenna and her confrontation with the Ocean? Did you experience similar emotions while writing it?
This chapter and the last were the most thoughtful as I couldnt rely on plot to maintain the momentum of the story. The ocean was the stage of the journey where Jenna had to leave things to chance rather than previously she had strategised how she would make it back to Gabriel. Hence the language is prayer like and desperate ie when all else is gone there is only hope….. It required me to delve more deeply for the words …make the emotions live on the page….I felt I was with her as I do all the characters I create otherwise its like taking a photo using words.
- Can you tell us a bit more about the purgers and how you came to choose these characters?
The Purgers are genetically engineered soldiers. They are not robots as they are flesh but are formed to be the perfect soldier who arose out of previous generations of war and attempts to control limited resources. Ultimately they are used to plan the escape from the earth by the bond masters when they know the date of the death of the sun. They were chosen more as a crafting tool who represent the unforgiving world around Jenna . In a time when resources are so scarce everything has to be controlled and the way to do this was a system of policing that was incorruptible to its purpose. It also explains the rigid partitioned society where it is predetermined which class you will belong to ie master or slave…
- Did you have any particular real life inspirations that helped to shape this book or influence the world and time it was set it?
Visiting Paris and Europe old civilisation meeting modern world ….Pere La Chaise cemetary in Paris is where Eugene Delacroix ‘s tomb is located ….the sense of history , time passing as well as the magnificent gravestones cobbled paths made me think of our brief existance and the mark we leave…..in terms of climate environment…drought here at home ….. mostly it is a philiosophical novel hence the lack of explanation in terms of Purgers or the density of details that a sci fi novel may contain. I wanted to present a surreal feel ….a sense of disconnection which comes from not understanding what is happening around you yet trying to live through it.
- Was it a hard decision to present the ten letters in reverse? Can you tell us what that process was like?
Not as difficult as it may seem. The letters and book are almost two separate story lines so each was written independant of the other with some tweaking to make it flow.
- Can we expect a prequel or another book like this soon?
Probably not like this one. Ten Letters is part of a triptych which includes another novella and 3 short stories based in current times…they explore absurdist philosophy and have art and Paris in common ..I may at some point write a story about the wars of attrition briefly mentioned in Ten Letters. My next project is a trilogy fantasy which I am reviewing currently. That was completed a few years ago. I feel ready to tackle it again.
- What inspired you to write and why this particular book as your first novel?
Reading inspired me to write. I have dabbled in poetry for a long time but writing stories is what I enjoy the most. I decided to be more serious about 7-8 years ago for no other reason than its now or never. Ten letters just felt right….Dystopian themes are prevalent with concerns about climate change also where is technology headed …are we losing something as tech begins to order and compartmentalise our lives do we lose the diversity and vulnerability that the creative side of our natures ie art culture brings…also with AI on the horizon I wonder where do humans fit on the scale of things…how in control are we if ultimately the sun dies so do we…you know normal everyday questions one may ponder while enjoying some vegemite on toast ….so why not throw all that into a love story with Paris in the background!!
- Did you experience writer’s block? How did you overcome it?
Not in terms of a story line but choosing the right words. Writing requires patience & persistence so if Im stuck I step away or work on something else…Poetry is a great salve for many things…
- Which author inspires you? Why?
For story and adventure in fantastical worlds Tolkien and Herbert (Dune) For exploring philosophical themes Dostoesvky and Camus. Ten Letters dystopian setting and brevity was inspired in part by the Road by Cormac McCarthy …every word infiltrated my mind in an explosive manner ..I hadnt felt such a strong impact from a piece of fiction for a long time….
- When you’re not reading what could we find you doing?
I like coffee catch up with friends …art exhibits…occasional poetry gigs…. I work as well so that fills up the week and pays for the travelling. Writing in between.
- What was the best piece of advice you were given as an author?
Find the middle voice keep writing….and review review review!!!
Congratulations Clare on this wonderful achievement!!! Read3r’z Re-Vu are so excited and proud of your work, we hope to continue seeing you at our sessions and wish you all the very best for your next chapter!!!
-Blog/Interview Duet by Annie and Crystal