When I learned that the Canadian publication date of my novel Studio Saint-Ex would follow on the heels of April Fool's Day, the irony made me smile. There had been many times, as I worked on the story, that I had wondered if I wasn't a fool to take it on.
It had been challenging enough conjuring up 1942 Manhattan, the rise of American haute couture, and the wealthy, culturally elite French expatriates that made New York City their home during WWII. But what had made me reel from anxiety to anxiety was my choice of male protagonist. Studio Saint-Ex is a story of love, ambition and creativity revolving around author Antoine de Saint-Exupéry and the manuscript that would become one of the bestselling and most beloved books of all time.
Put words in the mouth of one of the most revered writers in the world? Try to convey his mindset as he wrote The Little Prince? Imagine I could understand and express his longing and his genius, that I could write letters in his hand? Was I crazy? Who do you think you are?
Of course, it's a cliché that a writer would ask herself that. But ask it I did; it couldn't be dismissed. Even Alice Munro, I thought, must have laboured under its weight: her 1978 collection takes its title from the question. Then my thoughts went to Carol Shield …