Interview with Sylvain Reynard

Posted by Goodreads on February 9, 2015
It's no surprise that the lush, richly imagined work of early Renaissance artist Sandro Botticelli plays a pivotal role in Sylvain Reynard's new paranormal romance, The Raven. Though Reynard insists on keeping his identity veiled, he continues to make a name for himself with books that live up to their inspiration, like his bestselling debut, Gabriel's Inferno, which centered on a dark and uninhibited Dante scholar. In The Raven, we follow an art restorer named Raven Wood who works at Florence's Uffizi Gallery. After a confusing attack, she finds herself transformed, and soon becomes involved in the ancient city's dark underworld.

Read on for the Goodreads Romance interview with Sylvain, plus an exclusive deleted scene from The Raven!

You’ve said that Gabriel’s Inferno is about forgiveness and redemption. What big theme will we see in The Raven?

My new novel, The Raven, is about mercy and justice and the uneasy tension between the two. My interest in forgiveness leads naturally to the question of how to uphold justice while at the same time being open to mercy. I recognize my own need for forgiveness and mercy, which prompts me to recognize it in others, including fictional characters.

The main character in The Raven transforms physically—she goes from being overweight to slim, plain to beautiful, and her disability disappears. Does she ever return to her original form? What does her transformation symbolize?

Yes, she does. This was a plot development I placed heavy emphasis on in the novel. I wanted to make the point that Raven’s unconventional beauty exists and remains even after her transformation is reversed. I also wanted to make the point that disabilities don’t diminish beauty; if anything, they add to a person’s own unique beauty.

Some Botticelli works are a big part of The Raven. What is it about Botticelli that inspires you?

Simply put, his paintings are beautiful. I like the way Botticelli plays with light and color. I like the way he paints female figures. In the context of The Raven I wanted to focus on a piece of art that had multiple, controversial interpretations. Botticelli’s Primavera provided me with exactly that, and so I used it for my own purposes in the narrative.

What paranormal romances would you recommend to people who love your books? These novels are very well known already, but I’d recommend Deborah Harkness’s All Souls Trilogy, and I’d also recommend < a href="">Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire.

Since it’s almost Valentine’s Day…what is the most romantic thing you have ever done for someone or had someone do for you?

Usually it’s the small, thoughtful, sincere gestures that have had the most impact. In my view romance is all about paying attention to the person you love and focusing your creative efforts on celebrating that person. It’s about spending time together and enjoying one another, wherever or however that may be.

Does knowing that most of your readers are women affect the way you write your sex scenes? Which of them is your favorite?

I write for my readers, and certainly this affects how I approach those scenes. But my purpose with sex scenes is to illustrate something about the characters and how they relate to each other.

There’s a love scene in The Raven that takes place on top of a loggia, with the Duomo visible in the distance. I think that passage is particularly sensual and beautiful.

Why has beauty been so important in your life?There’s a lot of ugliness in the world: violence, abuse, wars, racism, genocide, and religious persecution. You can focus on the ugliness and despair or you can choose to look for beauty.

I don’t turn a blind eye to the world’s ugliness, but I choose to focus on beauty to remind myself that not all the ugliness in the world can eliminate the goodness and beauty that exists. This simple truth gives me hope.

How would the Snarky Narrator describe your decision to remain anonymous?

SN: Let’s just say some people are better off living as hermits, and leave it at that.

SR: (sigh)

Goodreads Romance Exclusive: An Outtake from The Raven

The city of Florence changed after sunset.

During the day, the streets teemed with people. The great architectural structures almost shone, soaring against azure skies.

After sunset, those same buildings absorbed the dark, their colors muted. Citizens and tourists alike kept to the main streets and piazzas. Quaint alleys took on a sinister appearance while monuments and statues almost seemed to draw breath before one’s eyes.

To Raven Wood, the city streets grew ominous in the evenings following her confrontation with the intruder. It was as if every shadow, every dark corner had eyes that peered out at her, marking her every movement as she walked from the Uffizi Gallery and across the Ponte Santa Trinita to her home in Santo Spirito.

On this particular evening, she felt certain she was being watched. She hurried, avoiding eye contact with passersby and electing not to take the short cuts she usually used. It was only after she’d ascended the staircase to her apartment and successfully entered and locked the door that she allowed herself the luxury of a deep, relieved breath.

She dropped her knapsack to the floor and flicked on the light switch.

Nothing happened.

She tried the switch again but to no avail. The apartment was swathed in blackness.

"I know it's you." Raven stood, her back against the door.

Her ears strained for the sound of any movement, even the shallowest stirring of breath, but as during the previous home invasion, she heard nothing.

"You must be the only burglar in Florence who can see in the dark. Why do you keep shutting off my electricity?"

"Why don’t you do as you’re told and leave the city?" An angry voice, all too familiar, snapped at her from the kitchen.

She heard his shoes tap impatiently across the floor, the sound drawing nearer.

"I am waiting." His imperious tone brooked no evasion.

"You gave me two weeks. It's only been one since you asked me to leave."
"I didn’t ask you; I told you." He came nearer still and she was struck with his scent, a combination of citrus and the woods.

Unlike the intruder, himself, the scent was not unpleasant.

"You told me," she amended. "I thought you were a man of your word."

"The city is dangerous. You must leave at once."

"The only person who has threatened me is you."

She couldn’t see him but she could hear him draw closer, his voice sounding a few inches from her ear.

"If you want proof of my claim, go stand in the center of the piazza. You'll find out soon enough what dangers lurk the city streets."

"You promised you’d help me."

"I promised nothing. I foolishly decided to warn you, on a whim. If you won't do what you're told, I'll withdraw my assistance. You can fend for yourself."

His footsteps retreated, sounding as if he was headed for the bedroom and perhaps, to make his escape through the bedroom window.

"I don’t even know your name," she called.

The footsteps stopped.

"Why do you need to know my name?"

"I need to know who you are. I need to know if I should trust you."

The man laughed and it was not a happy sound.

"I am the darkness made visible. And you should never, ever trust me."

An icy finger of fear ascended Raven's spine. "Then why should I leave the city?"

"I may not be trustworthy, but I am never wrong. You are in danger and from more than one group. Leave Florence before it’s too late."

Raven exhaled in frustration.

"I came here to start a new life. I work at the Uffizi, restoring paintings so people can enjoy them for years to come. I can’t abandon my work."
"I believe they have something they call art in America. Restore that."

"I wasn’t happy there."

The footsteps drew nearer once again.

"Why not?"

Raven wasn’t about to confess her secrets to a stranger.

She changed the subject. "You say I'm in danger. You say you know who wants to harm me. Instead of telling me to leave the city, why don’t you turn them over to the carabinieri?"

"The carabinieri." He chuckled darkly, as if he found her suggestion amusing.

He touched her face, the gentle contact at odds with his harsh and commanding demeanor.

"Those green eyes of yours are dangerous. A king would give up his kingdom for a pair of eyes like that."

His fingertips traced her cheek.

"It would be a tragedy for Florence to be robbed of such beauty," he whispered, drawing nearer.

He seemed to bring his face inches from hers, examining her in the dark.

"It would be a greater tragedy for the world to be robbed of you. If you don’t leave the city, you will die."

He withdrew his hand and his voice grew as cold as an autumn stream. "This is your final warning."

Before Raven could respond, she heard loud, retreating footsteps and the sound of a window being opened.

A few moments later, the lights came on.

Comments Showing 1-18 of 18 (18 new)

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message 1: by Dawn (new)

Dawn Fleishans I just love SR! Besides a great writer he is a great human! And that these days is harder and harder to come by.

message 2: by Franca (new)

Franca Cawley I had my reservations about reading a paranormal book as I had never read one before, but because I am a huge SR fan I didn't even hesitate to buy the Prince and The Raven. I will admit it took me a few chapters to really get into it, but once I opened my mind to accepting the supernatural I could not put the book down. Beautifully written in SR's unique style, a sensitive and sensual love story as well as a lesson in art and history. I loved it. My only complaint . . . . the agonizing wait for book #2.
Enjoyed the interview and deleted scene too.

message 3: by dee ☾ (new)

dee ☾ ksjdkasljd!!!! dskldsdkdjsdk!!!!!!!! <3 <3 <3

message 4: by Miriam (new)

Miriam Vara Loved prince and haven when is the other book coming out!? Thanks

message 5: by Yvonne (new)

Yvonne I read the Prince and the Raven this weekend, loved them both. Can't wait for the next book, love your writing!!!

message 6: by Skye (new)

Skye Etain Excellent book, but enjoyed the interview as well. It is always nice to understand the author's point of view, how the themes underpin the story. One may not recognise all of the themes mentioned above, but now looking back it makes more sense. I look forward to the continuation of the series.

message 7: by Fiker (new)

Fiker Haile Can't wait for the second book! The Raven is awesome.

message 8: by C.J. (new)

C.J. Fosdick The excerpt really evokes the scent and sense of Anne Rice works! She is one of my favorite authors, along with Diana Gabaldon. Proof that lyrical writing can be found in some fantasy and time travel.

message 9: by Audrey (new)

Audrey I like it that Sylvain Reynard remains anonymous - I like mystery. I also love his storytelling abilities. SR is definitely one of my go to authors.

message 10: by Bere (new)

Bere D'fab the ability to involve us in every story so magnificently brings. thanks for that scene and interview. SR you are amazing

message 11: by Bleuz00m (last edited Feb 12, 2015 11:36AM) (new)

Bleuz00m Ah, anonymity, S.R.? We enjoy your books and your writing. But please, most of your fans know your prior fanfic writing: "..Sylvain Reynard – Gabriel’s Inferno/Rapture = Sebastien Robichaud – University of Edward Masen (almost word for word).."

Further, this citation here on GoodReads, cross-referenced elsewhere:

message 12: by Audrey (new)

Audrey Oh well to me Sylvain Reynard is a mystery, and I like it that way. When I read SR's works I feel like I am in the scene, SR has a way of awakening the imagination (not that mine is ever dormant).

message 13: by MommaBear (new)

MommaBear I have Gabriel's Inferno on my TBR shelf, to read when I finish at least one of the 3 series I'm currently catching up on. Just wanted to say that remaining anonymous is the only way to keep your preferred lifestyle when you are a popular, talented author. Not everyone wants to be recognized wherever they go, be hounded by over-zealous fans. I am a fledgling, wannabe author myself and have every intention, no matter how minuscule my audience may ever be, to remain simply "Mom" to my son, and just me to everyone else.

Kudos to Mr. Reynard for successfully remaining anonymous during his enormous popularity. Who cares what his "real" name is so long as you enjoy his work? For me, my genre is not appropriate for my son to be aware of or involved in, and work should always be separate from family anyway. What better way for an author to ensure that separation than to have an anonymous pen name? Many well known authors use pen names to seperate genres they write in (Stephen King, J R Ward, etc) so why not choose a pen name, or two, to separate work from personal time?

Can't wait to start Gabriel's Inferno trilogy, then the newest trilogy Mr.Reynard is writing. Going by reviews, I'm in for a treat!

Victoriaemojgmail.Com this book is so interesting..i can't get enough

message 15: by sisa (new)

sisa OH. MY. GOD. I LOVE Sylvain Reynard, but for some reason I've always thought of him as a she. I enjoyed reading Gabriel's Inferno and I think The Raven is even better.

Thank you for sharing these amazing stories. I can't wait for your next book!

message 16: by Samira (new)

Samira OMG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!It was a massive head on....loved everything about it. I am eagerly, desperately and anxiously and many more lys waiting for the next book to come

message 17: by Angela (new)

Angela New to this thread as I just "found" SR's Gabriel series. I've only just finished Gabriel's Rapture, but I read in the interview that he recommends Deborah Harkness' All Souls Trilogy. I would just like to second this recommendation. Very smart writing and quite entertaining. I have sped through both series in mere days, which is an indication to me of a job well done on the part of both authors.

message 18: by Melinda (new)

Melinda I agree with you! Ditto, too. I would also recommend another excellent "vampire" book along with Deborah Harkness's works, and that is: THE HISTORIAN by ELIZABETH KOSTOVA. Beautifully written. Very mysterious, full of culture and intellectual atmosphere. Enjoy!

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