Setting the Scene by Collin Kelley
Both Conquering Venus and Remain In Light, which are books 1 and 2 of The Venus Trilogy, were inspired by a trip I took to Paris in 1995. I was technically chaperoning a group of high school students on their senior trip, but I struck off on my own and met some very interesting people, who eventually became characters in the novels.
I’ve been back to Paris three times now (I wrote the end of Remain In Light last summer sitting in the Jardin des Plantes) and I’ve immersed myself in the culture. Paris is usually portrayed as a city of love and romance, but it has a dark underbelly that most tourists never see.
I wanted to look beyond the guidebooks and explore the Paris that is just beneath the surface of the postcards. As the character Irène Laureux says, “This city is not always full of light.” That’s where the mystery/suspense element came in and gave me the opportunity to explore the intersection of Americans and Parisians thrown into extraordinary circumstances. There’s murder, stolen identities, government secrets, missing persons, a hint of the paranormal and even a little poetry.
In Paris, I stayed in an out of the way hotel in the 11th arrondissement. Rue Rampon was a narrow little street lined with small shops and apartment buildings. Across from my room was an apartment with a long wrought iron balcony full of flowers. The French doors were always open and the interior was lined with bookcases crammed with tomes. There was a big desk with an old typewriter, what appeared to be manuscript pages, and even more books. But I never saw the owner.
For a solid week, the doors were always open, but the writer was never at work at the desk. So I invented Irène Laureux in my head. A Parisian widow disabled by agoraphobia, who never leaves her apartment and works as a book editor. At night, she spies on the guests of the hotel with her binoculars.
Collin Kelley is the author of the novels Conquering Venus and Remain In Light, which was a 2012 finalist for the Townsend Prize for Fiction. His poetry collections include Better To Travel, Slow To Burn and After the Poison and the forthcoming Render. Kelley is also the author of the eBook short story collection, Kiss Shot. A recipient of the Georgia Author of the Year Award, Deep South Festival of Writers Award and Goodreads Poetry Award, Kelley’s poetry, essays and interviews have appeared in magazines, journals and anthologies around the world. He lives in Atlanta, GA. For more information, visit www.collinkelley.com, find him on Facebook at CollinKelleyWriter or follow him on Twitter @collinkelley.
Conquering Venus and Remain In Light are available in ebook and trade paperback formats from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Powell’s, Smashwords and through your favourite local bookstore.