Text: Haxie Meyers-Belkin
Rosa Rankin-Gee is a winner of Shakespeare & Company’s 2011 Paris Literary Prize, and she co-founded The Book Club at Le Carmen (think gorgeous people swapping books in sumptuous surroundings – an en masse flirtation opportunity masquerading as literary night out) as well as being general international woman of merriment. Here, she gallantly answers some questions about life as a young writer and the ever-elusive perfect Parisian coffee.
When did you first start writing?
It’s terribly soundbite-y, but I think as soon as I could write, I started writing stories. That should be “stories” – they’d normally be about foxes or my father, and would simultaneously be very short and make no sense. My mum still has one on the wall, above her desk. The spelling almost looks Norse.
Have you got any particular writing routine – lucky trolls and such like?
Yes, I have a writing balaclava. No, no funny clothes or lucky eggs. I like to have a window to look out of, people to look at, coffee and not to be hungry. Can’t do anything if I’m hungry.
Where do you draw inspiration from?
What I see, what I hear. My friends, and things that happen to us. I think I should grow up and start reading the papers.
You were recently crowned winner of the 2011 Paris Literary Prize with your novella The Last Kings of Sark – how did the story come about?
After graduating, I went to work as a private cook with a friend on Sark, a tiny tax haven in the Channel Islands. It was surreal and strange, and in bed each night I wrote down everything I’d seen. I left the island after 17 days, semi-formed a story and then started writing.
When did you decide you wanted to become a writer?
It’s not something I ‘decided’ like that. I knew I wanted to do something creative; for a while I wanted it to be songs. In a way, being a writer of fiction kind of fell out of the sky. It’s not a huge, huge surprise though – both my parents are writers.
Best coffee in Paris?
The lovely Le Bal Café, near the horrible Place de Clichy. That’s a wonderful place. Also, the milk frothing skills are pretty jazzy at Kookaburra on Rue des Martyrs and Caféotheque just next door to the Cité des Arts. I like noisettes.
Weirdest place in Paris?
The bath in my kitchen.