Writer’s Block: Martine Delvaux

We sit down with Montreal-based Martine Delvaux, author of several novels including critically acclaimed Bitter Rose and most recently White Out (Linda Leith Publishing) to talk about her influences, writing as “rendez-vous,” and the toughest part of being a writer.


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All Lit Up: Which writers have influenced you or had the most impact on your own writing?Martine Delvaux: I have been influenced by French Female writers, mostly—Marguerite Duras, Valérie Mréjen, Nathalie Léger, Annie Ernaux. But also inspired by Philip Roth and Cormac McCarthy…ALU: What do you enjoy reading?MD: I almost only read women’s literature, and most often autobiographical or testimonial writing. But for the last few years, I have watched a lot more TV series than I have read books. Images and sound have replaced, in part, literature.ALU: What’s one book you always recommend?MD: Marguerite Duras: The Lover.ALU: What are your must-read literary websites/publications?MD: LitHub and The Paris Review.ALU: Do you have any rituals that you abide by when you’re writing?MD: To be constant. Writing is like a “rendez-vous” that I cannot miss. Everyday, for however long, I have to be “in contact” with the book that I am working on. It’s something like a love affair. When I get the urge to go to this rendez-vous, when what I think about most is the book that I am writing, then I know that I am on the right track!ALU: Why do you write?MD: Because I can’t do anything else! I write out of urgency. It’s like breathing. Everything is a reason to write, everything is “matter” for a possible piece of writing. I need to translate the world we live in. I deeply need to push it through the sieve of language.ALU: Have you ever experienced writer’s block? What did you do about it?MD: I have experienced difficulty finding a voice, seeing the book that I am working on. I just kept at it. I didn’t give up, through tears and the wringing of hands.ALU: What’s the toughest part about being a writer?The toughest part is to not be able to not do it, and never be sure if the writing really exists. If it will be read. If it will survive. And if I will be recognized as a writer. That fear can never be calmed down.* * *Martine Delvaux lives in an old factory turned into lofts, between the Plateau Mont-Royal and the Mile End, with her teenage daughter and her dog Cigare. If she could, she would spend most of her time in Rome or Miami or New York city. But since she can’t, she walks up to Little Italy, has coffee at Caffé Italia, gets groceries from Milano, and slowly heads back home while listening to Lana del Rey.* * *Thanks to Martine Delvaux for taking us up on this interview and to Leila Marshy at Linda Leith Publishing for connecting us. For more Writer’s Block, click here.