Author Sylvain Reynard: Review and Interview

And the winner of the Skyrockets in Flight Blog Hop is . . .

Darlene from Darlene’s Book Nook!

An ebook of With Good Behavior or Bad Behavior is coming your way, Darlene. Thank you to all the entrants. If you didn’t win, hop on over to Lisa Sanchez’s blog where there’s a giveaway of The Conduct Series happening until the end of July.

Now on to my featured guest today, author Sylvain Reynard! I LOVED his debut novel Gabriel’s Inferno. Here’s my review:

Beautifully Written and Executed

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. The themes of this story – redemption and healing via the grace of love – are quite important to me, and Gabriel and Julia demonstrate these themes gradually and powerfully. Both romantic leads grow stronger and softer throughout the story, with Julia leading the way. As the bonds of their relationship strengthen, so too do their internal structures, undergirding their love for each other and themselves.

Julia is a graduate student at the University of Toronto, working on her master’s degree. When the snarky narrator points out how graduate school is its own feudal class system, I had to laugh – so true. As a master’s student, Julia is the serf, and her sweet doctoral student friend Paul is only one small step up the power ladder. As the professor, Gabriel is the master, lording over all with disdain.

Gabriel is so freaking snooty. I loved when he insists on being called “Professor” instead of “Doctor”, since lowly podiatrists are called “Doctor”. I wonder how he’d feel about lowly psychologists going by “Doctor”, ha ha. It’s amazing how his snobby personality is actually charming, as seen through Julia’s eyes, just like Gabriel adores Julia’s shyness and delicateness. Mr. Reynard really nails how love makes us see the beauty in each other.

My favorite part of the novel is the early interaction between Julia and Gabriel, a true battle between good and evil, culminating in a verbal classroom duel that is magnificent. I can totally picture that classroom scene in a movie.

These are two deeply troubled individuals. As Gabriel tells her, “We both have scars, Julianne. Mine just aren’t on the skin.” (p. 414). (I beg to differ, Gabriel – look at your chest.) Both will try their best to heal those scars, however. Nowhere is Gabriel’s transformation more evident than the change in how he views Julia’s sexuality. At first he mocks her virginity, and his scathing words are so visceral that I also wanted to hide in shame. Toward the end of the novel Gabriel tells her:

“Someone as giving and as passionate as you could never be terrible at anything sexual. You just need someone who will make you feel safe enough to express yourself. Then the tiger will emerge . . I’ve seen your passion. I’ve felt it. And it’s breathtaking. You are breathtaking.” (p.403)

Gabriel tries to break free of his bitter outer shell to communicate the true reverence he feels for Julia:

“Of course I want you. Look at you! You’re beautiful and warm and intelligent. You’re forgiving and gentle. You might not realize this, but you bring out those qualities in me. You make me want to be gentle and kind.” (p.403)

It’s Julia’s forgiveness and clever suggestion for atonement that help Gabriel the most. She tells him:

“But think about the gift you gave Tom – his only daughter. Turn our debt into penance. You are not a devil, you’re an angel. My angel.” (p. 432).

Truly lovely. The novel ends a bit abruptly so I was excited to hear Mr. Reynard is writing the sequel as we speak. I’d like to hurry him along but excellent writing like this can’t be rushed. Bellissima!

Time for an interview of Mr. Reynard!

Jennifer Lane (JL): Welcome to the blog, Sylvain. I loved the tortured hero in Gabriel’s Inferno. What inspired you to write that character? How much of your own personality and experiences did you infuse into Gabriel?

Sylvain Reynard (SR): Hello Miss Jennifer. Allow me to begin by thanking you for inviting me to visit your blog today. I’m delighted to be with you and your readers.
Thank you for your kind words about Professor Emerson. “Gabriel’s Inferno” is a work of fiction, but some of the events (and more than a few sins) are based in reality. 
Quite a bit of me ended up in Gabriel, I’ll confess, especially the old-fashioned way of speaking and relating to others.  I think that he is what I could have been like were it not for the grace and forgiveness I’ve received in my own life. In that sense, he is as much a cautionary doppelgaenger as he is a fictional character.

JL: How do you like to write? (Favorite writing spot…Preferred ambience…Plotter or pantser?)

SR:  I like to plot everything out before I begin writing.  I have a leather chair of which I am extremely fond and I tend to favour writing in that space when I’m not at my desk. I tend to spend a lot of time thinking about the characters and their reactions before I write a scene, even to the point of visually laying out the action.

JL: You appear to have some graduate school experience yourself, judging by your spot-on descriptions of academic hierarchy and snootiness. What is your academic background?

SR:  I was a student many years ago when the distinction between professor and student was entrenched and formal. I was on the receiving end of the snootiness more than once, although many of my instructors and fellow students were kind.  I poke (gentle) fun at the academic caste system because (especially to non-students) the hierarchy can be ridiculous.  (Parenthetically, it should be noted that in my view there is no excuse for bad manners, not even one’s academic pedigree.)

JL: I’ve been to Toronto a few times for psychology conferences, and stayed at the UT dorms once as a poor grad student (I could identify with Julia’s hovel.) Please tell us more about Toronto as the setting for your story.

SR:  The University of Toronto is, perhaps, the best known and largest Canadian university.  It’s located downtown and the boundary between the city and the university is almost non-existent. People from all walks of life cut through campus daily.  There are many high end restaurants, condos and shops just steps from the university buildings.It’s common for both faculty and students to live within walking distance of campus. Most of the drama in “Gabriel’s Inferno” that is set in Toronto takes place within five city blocks.

JL: *eagerly bounces up and down* How’s the sequel to Gabriel’s Inferno coming along?

SR: Thanks for asking. The sequel is in progress, and I was able to put a little bit of what’s forthcoming as a kind of epilogue in “Gabriel’s Inferno.” (You can read it at the very end of the book)  I don’t have a release date for the sequel yet but I’m eager for the book to be available soon.
Let me end by thanking you once again, Miss Jennifer, for reading my story and also for inviting me to speak to you. And I’d like to thank your readers, too, for allowing me this opportunity.

Time for the Meet an Author Monday Blog Hop, hosted by Lisa Sanchez. Check out her blog for instructions.

5 thoughts on “Author Sylvain Reynard: Review and Interview”

  1. \”Someone as giving and as passionate as you could never be terrible at anything sexual. You just need someone who will make you feel safe enough to express yourself. Then the tiger will emerge . . I’ve seen your passion. I’ve felt it. And it’s breathtaking. You are breathtaking.\”*sigh* What girl doesn't want a guy to say that to her? Fictional men rock! Thanks for the interview and review! I really enjoy your perspective on the character personalities, Jen. And it's nice to meet you, Sylvain.


  2. SR knows how I feel about Gabriel's Inferno,it's truly beautiful. My daughter and myself desperately hope to see this book on the shelves of Waterstones here in the UK. That would be just make our day. Loved the review and the interview,i can just picture SR getting comfy in his chair ready to write. Truly wonderful. x


  3. Jennifer, thanks for this interview of SR. I love GI and learning more about this author. Hoping that sequel is ready soon.


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