What inspired you to write Madame Picasso?
I discovered Eva’s story as I began my general research into Picasso’s personal life. I had gone in looking to make my novel about Picasso and his first significant love, Fernande Oliver, a woman who still figures very prominently In Madame Picasso. However, the fact that Picasso was pulled away so powerfully from Fernande by his feelings for Eva made my original idea not one worth pursuing. I needed to write about an epic love affair, that is always what inspires me, and Eva and Pablo most certainly had that.
Why do you think people today are still so interested in Picasso?
Picasso remains an enigma to this day, the motivations for much of his work unexplained, and I believe we are all fascinated by what we cannot easily explain. He famously said, “Learn the rules like a professional so you can break them like an artist.” People are transfixed by that. I know I am because there was so much to be found beneath what he painted if one took the time to look.
What was your research process like for this book? Did you find out anything really unique, strange, or interesting in your research?
The research process has long been the same for me, and it is one to which, as a novelist, I am dedicated. I totally sink myself into a story in any way that I can. That means traveling to the place where my novels are to be set and taking in every element I can of the life the characters lived. On that journey, I walk the same streets, see the same slice of sky. No detail is unimportant. For Madame Picasso, what I found to be unique was the “essence” of Pablo Picasso that did not match the public persona he allowed for many decades to stand. While I agree that, after Eva, he did cement his own poor personal reputation through the years, when he was with her he was still open, still vulnerable with his heart. Only on the cusp of his massive fame when they were together, he needed her. That is a sentiment backed up by his biographer and friend, Pierre Daix. Over sixty years later, Daix revealed that the mere mention of Eva’s name still brought tears to Picasso’s eyes.
This is your first book! Do you have any “lessons learned” for aspiring authors?
This is actually my fourteenth novel. Anne Girard is a pen name. My thirteen previous books, eleven of which were also based on real love affairs from history, were published under my real name, Diane Haeger. Readers can find those books at my first website www.dianehaeger.com For aspiring authors, lessons learned in twenty years of being published are many. First and foremost, write what you love and what you like to read. Don’t try to anticipate the market because, by the time you get there, to a sale and then publication, it will likely have changed. I was given that advice myself years ago by my literary agent, and she has been right.
If you could choose any three historical figures, or fictional characters, to bring with you to a deserted island, who would you bring and why?First always, Diane de Poitiers, the real-life queen of hearts to France’s Henri II. She was the subject of my first novel, Courtesan. We share the same first name and it is because of her story that I was moved to try my hand at writing professionally. My home is filled with the DH crest he designed for her and stamped throughout France, even on coins. Very romantic! Second, hands down, Oscar Wilde. I adore intelligence and wit, and I just love verbal sparring. He would have made it interesting. Third, would be Eva Gouel, Pablo’s love in Madame Picasso. Picasso never shared with the world the details of their life together. He gave clues in his ar, to those who cared to look, but to have asked, one woman to the next, about their love affair, would have been divine. She might not have told me at first, but on a deserted island what else have you got to do but share?
One lucky winner will win a copy of Madame Picasso (U.S. Residents only)!
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