Q&A with James Macmanus

1. Please describe Black Venus in three words.
Passion Paris Poetry

2. What inspired you to write a novel about Charles Baudelaire?
The enduring mystery of his relationship with his mistress and muse Jeanne Duval. From my schooldays on I have been intrigued by Baudelaire’s long attachment to a woman who ruined him yet inspired him to write great poetry.

3. What is the biggest challenge when writing a novel based on historical facts?
You have to get the research right – to be as accurate as possible in setting your book but equally you must always remember that rounded characters and narrative flow are all important. In other words the writer should not allow his research to trump his imagination.

4. In your opinion, how did Baudelaire change the world of literature?
He broke with the Romantic movement and introduced France and a wider European readership to poetry that had its roots in his own sense of alienation and failure. He drew his inspiration from the mean streets of Paris but equally gave flight to the most sensuous poetry in the French language, poetry that expressed both his despair at the world around him and his love of the beauty he found in women, in art and especially paintings and music.

5. What are you working on next?
That’s a secret.