Joanne Harris Talks Gentlemen & Players

Posted on October 8, 2005

Joanne Harris, author of Chocolat and Coastliners, chats with The Independent (UK) about her new novel, Gentlemen & Players, which is set in a British public school (what we would call a private school in America). A former schoolteacher, Harris is quite familiar with the school setting. She discusses her life as a teacher and growing up bilingual, with one French parent and one English parent.

It takes Harris between 18 months and seven years to produce a novel. "My publishers have very cleverly maintained this illusion that I write a book a year", she says. "The truth is that they bring out a book a year, which is slightly different." Harris juggles several manuscripts at a time, writing and revising in parallel.


"Some people have been terribly offended that I have dared to write about certain aspects of France while missing others out, as if I had a responsibility somehow to show a clear and unbiased vista. I don't do unbiased," says Harris crisply. She knows about the France of nuclear plants and McDonald's franchises but, as she says, "That's the great thing about being a writer - you can choose and pick what you want."

She also talked about an attitude she comes across often in America where the reader wants to be told what to think. She says a man once asked her at a lecture what he was supposed to came away with after reading one of her novels. She said she told him, "I said, 'Sir, I'm not here to tell you what you're supposed to come way with. You don't go into a restaurant, order a steak and then go into the kitchen and ask the chef what it was supposed to taste like!'"

Harris has sold more than four million books -- and that's just in Great Britain. She really does have a unique way of looking at the world. She describes Gentlemen & Players as a sort of dark, yet light-hearted comedy. The book will be released in the U.S. in January, 2006 by William Morrow. We're looking forward to reading it.

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