I met Gilles about eight years ago, in 2009-2010. Actually, we, that was my family and I, met him, his lovely wife and their daughter, as they moved in in the house right next to ours, Avenue du Roi, in Brussels.
Over the years, we got to know each other and I discovered he was a really talented and infinitely experienced film director and story teller. Among others, he wrote and directed the famous Rue Barbare, starring Bernard Giraudeau and Bernard-Pierre Donnadieu, and more recently Diamant 13, with Gérard Depardieu, a good friend of his, Gregory Marchal and Asia Argento.
At some point, I was reading a biography of Jean-Paul Belmondo by himself Mille Vies valent Mieux qu’Une. I told Gilles about some of the fooleries Belmondo recalled in his book, with his crazy buddies. And you couldn’t imagine my surprise when Gilles would just confirm the truth of the stories and give me even more detailed versions of it, as he not only witnessed but participated to some of them himself.
It took Gilles several days to carefully read an early version of The Tenth, the first volume of my upcoming novel trilogy Mecha-Soul / L’Âme Mécanique. Then, on top of his precious notes, he made a couple of remarks which helped me tremendously making sure the readers wouldn’t end up lost somewhere underway in a totally unfamiliar and unknown universe.
Gilles focused in particular on the first couple of chapters, where it wasn’t that clear who was the main character of the story and who was to be followed trough the whole journey. In the beginning, I was lost, until I got to hook up with the heroes, however it was a little late and I’m afraid the readers won’t wait that long before they just give up, he said.
Gilles was so right! It took me even months to fine-tune the first fifty pages of the book until it got all right and passed the readers tests. As a matter of fact, as I’m rewriting those lines, in September 2018, the final reading is being carried out by Charline, a wonderful young woman who used to work for a big publisher helping writers to smooth all edges before actual shipping to publisher.
Photo credit: Gilles Béhat – Festival Les Hérault du Cinéma et de la Télé 2013 – Ville d’Agde