Agnès Martin-Lugand is the author of six novels, all praised by critics and audiences alike: Happy people read and drink coffee, Happiness weaves in between my hands, Don’t worry, life is easy, Sorry, I’m expected somewhere, I can’t get this tune out of my head and In the light of dawn, her latest novel. With more than two million copies sold, she has won the hearts of readers in France and abroad.
I feed on the enthusiasm with which you welcome each of my novels. I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I enjoy writing them.
Like an open book
To find out more, just click on the different numbers
How did you begin writing?
I discovered the pleasure of writing and my love for it during my last two years of psychology studies, when I had to write my thesis. I enjoyed building up my thought process and putting it into words. I told myself that one day I would write, not from a professional standpoint, but to tell stories. I have always loved stories! The years passed, I worked as a psychologist in the field of child protection, while keeping this desire to write in a corner of my head. Then in 2009 my eldest son was born, this desire became even more important, and becoming a mom gave me wings and enough self-confidence to try, to face my dream of writing. All I needed was a story, and then Happy People Read and Drink Coffee’s matured.
Where do you draw your inspiration from?
Often, from questions I ask myself in my everyday life as a woman; the reaction to grief, career change, work, family, children, love. Then, from the characters, I need to want to spend time with them in my head for many months, I have to merge with them. For example, for I can’t get this tune out of my head, it was Vera and Yanis who brought me to the story, they came to me and I thought about the experiences I wanted to put them through. Music also plays a big part in my inspiration, discovering a track, an artist, can spark desires, give birth to storylines. Music allows me to escape, to think, to let my mind wander...
What are your work habits?
Once the story outline is done, when I really start writing, I need rituals and discipline. I like to get up at dawn, around 5:30, and immediately dive into writing while I’m the only one awake in the house. I am in my bubble and I don’t need a transition period to get back to my characters. If when I wake up I go straight to my story, I can then write most of the day. I have an imperative, I need the soundtrack of my novel, I work exclusively in music. If I do not have the right track for the right scene, I don’t write or I do it very badly!
How do you build your stories?
Through my characters: I need to know them like the back of my hand, though over time I have learnt and accepted that they could surprise me and that, despite what I thought, I didn’t have that much power over them. It’s for this reason that nowadays the outlines of my books are less detailed before I begin writing. I have a sufficiently developed frame with many scenes in mind, I have a beginning, a middle, an end, but I allow myself to be carried by the desires of my characters.
Are you currently writing a new novel?
Yes! But I will not say anything!
How do you find your titles?
They all have their own story. The only constant is that I never know the title when I begin, I do not need it to start. It comes during writing or when the novel is finished. My titles are all sentences because I like that they already tell a story and that everyone can invent something from them.
Is there a bit of you in your characters?
I don’t think you can write a book without putting some of yourself in. On the other hand, none of my characters are me! Diane, Iris, Yael or Vera all have small parts of me only perceptible by my relatives. But each left a piece of themselves in me. The fact is that I need to merge with them to write: I must feel like them, want to cry, laugh, shout, love like them, in order to know them better and to live fully the story I am writing. That leaves traces in me. I love them all, I have no preference between my characters, each represents a year of my life.