Yesterday I reviewed Shadow Ritual by Éric Giacometti and Jacques Ravenne. Today, I have an interview with the authors:
How are you both? Thank you, gentlemen, for coming to my blog today.
1) Mr. Giacometti: I understand that you are a former journalist for Le Parisien newspaper. What kind of writing did you pursue while here? Also, Le Parisien found its roots in the French Underground during the German Occupation. Did your interest in this era, as evidenced by Shadow Ritual, get sparked in any way from this, or was that interest already there?
I was an investigative reporter and covered many topics, including corruption involving the Freemasons on the French Riviera. I discovered the dark side of the brotherhood. It resulted in a lot of heated discussions with Jacques. However, this unsavory side of freemasonry is confined to a limited number of brothers.
Well before I started working for Le Parisien, I also worked on Nazi spoliation under the Occupation in France, a dark page in the history of France. In the weekly Le Point, I reported on the French Ministry of Finance’s archives on the subject.
As for Le Parisien, you are well informed! For a long time, thenewspaper was called the Parisien Libéré (litt: the liberated Parisian). It was born at the time of the liberation of France in 1944, from the rubble of a popular daily newspaper called Le Petit Parisien. Emilien Amaury, the owner and creator of the Parisien Libéré, was very close to General de Gaulle and shared his ideas. I have always been fascinated by that period.
2) In Shadow Ritual, there is a lot of influence by Freemasons. Is this group still a major influence in the world?
Well, it all depends what influence and what freemasonry you are talking about. To clarify, there is no global freemasonry united under a great master who would draw the strings. There are various independent jurisdictions (Grand Lodges). Some even forbid their members from having any connection with members of other lodges. For example, the French Masonic Grand Lodge (GNLF), recognized by the United Grand Lodge of England, does not allow their members to receive brothers from the Grand Orient of France (the largest organization in the country) in their temples nor to attend their ceremonies. There is a kind of undeclared war between many groups, both nationally and globally. There are reasons for these tensions. For instance, American and British Freemasons accept a belief in God, whereas in the Grand Orient it is not compulsory, and secularism remains a fundamental principle.
As for the supposed influence on politics and economics, there is no denying that in France some lodges welcome influential people. Networks do exist, but no more nor less than other networks that are sometimes much more powerful. There was a time when some jurisdictions exclusively recruited senior officials and business and financial leaders to inflate theirmembership and increase their power. But because of scandals disclosed by the press, especially about the French Riviera, some clean up took place.
However, you can’t prevent many laymen from believing that Freemasons are pulling the strings of a major global conspiracy with the Illuminati—who until proven otherwise no longer exist.
In our thrillers, we try not to fall into the trap of conspiracy theory. And for good reason: Antoine Marcas is a Freemason policemanproud of his ideal!
3) Your gift for seamlessly weaving history and thriller together to create a better novel is commendable. When did both of your interests in history begin, and what eras are you each most interested in?
Thank you. We have always been fascinated by history, be itofficial history from the textbooks or more obscure history woven into the texture of big events. Jacques has a passion forthe Middle Ages and the eighteenth century. It is not by chance that he wrote a novel on the life of the Marquis de Sade.
4) Your protagonist, Antoine Marcas, has been found unique in many ways, setting him apart from the average lead character. How did you develop this character, and does he embody any of your personal qualities?
As a Freemason, he believes in the values of freemasonry, butremains realistic on the organization and its by-products. He does not fantasize about having access to higher knowledge through his initiation. He is a cop, he’s divorced and has problems with his ex–wife. He lives in a realistic world. But a world in which suddenly the veil is torn and another reality appears, one that is more esoteric and strange. He goes through what poet Gérard de Nerval used to call the doors of “horn and ivory.”
Marcas is a product of our differences. Eric had a not-so-positive view of Freemasonry, resulting from his investigations. And Jacques was tired of reading simplistic articles on thebrotherhood. Antoine Marcas is the ideal honest Freemason. In Shadow Ritual, he teams with Jade, a secret service agent. She hates the brothers. Over the years, since this first book, Eric has become “Mason friendly,“ but he is still critical of certain practices.
5) On this blog, I have written articles on the rise of extremism in Europe, specifically in France. Shadow Ritual features this extremism, and I understand that you have both studied it throughout your career. How does this startling new trend connect back to the Nazi era, and why is this ideology resurfacing now?
The political situation in Europe is concerning. There’s a rise of parties qualified as extremist or populist, from the extreme right, like the National Front in France, or on the opposite from the extreme left, like the anti-capitalist party Syriza in Greece.
Reasons can be identified: increasing unemployment rate, latent economic crisis, rejection of political and media elite, growing rejection of uncontrolled globalization and of immigration, loss of national identity, and also distrust of European political structures. Add to this Islamic attacks, like on Charlie Hebdo in January 2015, and the latest discovery of an anti-Semitism rooted in some social groups of immigrants, and the result is a concerning mix.
However, we need to be careful in our comparisons with Nazi and pre-Nazi eras. In France, before World War II, anti-Semitism and anti-Freemasonry were widespread within the population and the elite. This is no longer the case. Also, even if neo–Nazi groups do exist, as with the Golden Dawn in Greece, they remain very marginal and no right-wing populist party consider themselves to be part of them. Unlike in the United States, Nazi apology and the display of Nazi symbols are severely punished by law in France.
6) Shadow Ritual has a lot of historical influence in it, including the Nazi era in Europe and after. What kind of historical research did you pursue for the novel?
We read history books on this dark period. From this, we developed, for instance, the character of Le Guermand, a French SS officer. There were a few thousand like him in our country. Some defended Hitler’s bunker to the very end, in Spring 1945.For a long time, in France it was taboo to discuss the soldiers who fought in German uniform.
On the esoteric dimension of Nazism and the role of the Thule society, there are a few reference works. It is still a rather unknown part of history, open to all kinds of fantasies.
7) What other writings have you published? Are there any more titles featuring Detective Marcas? How can readers connect with you?
In addition to the series with detective Antoine Marcas, which has ten books to date in French, Eric wrote a thriller about a public health scandal, a real story of killer pacemakers, as well as essays and an investigative book on pharmaceutical laboratories.
Jacques published his book on Sade and also research on the writer Paul Valery.
Readers can contact us via Facebook or on our website.
8) I have to ask this one question, one that doesn’t have much to do with the book: What is life like living in France? I am fascinated by different cultures and so I am curious as to your response compared to other French I have spoken with.
I would say the answer varies according to whom you are talking to in France. For those who struggle to make ends meet, life is tough, even if the social system provides a minimum safety net.
I have been living in Paris for 27 years. For me, France remains the country of good living and Paris is a wonderful city. Enjoying simple moments in life is part of a hedonistic view of life. To have a coffee on the terrace of my regular café in the 9th arrondissement, to walk along the banks of the Seine with my wife, to work late into the night and gaze upon the Sacré-Cœur from my office, these are unrivaled pleasures.
The View From Éric’s Office
Jacques lives on the Left Bank, in the Latin Quarter, near Saint-Germain-des-Prés. There you can hang around the Saint-Sulpicechurch and browse through the booksellers along the Seine. I realize these are all tourist clichés, but clichés are sometimes true.
And France is packed with wonderful landscapes, magnificent castles, and beautiful villages. Yes, to live in this country brings happiness, even though the French are the most pessimistic people in Europe, because of the economic crisis and social problems (rise of extremism, loss of reference points, etc.). They are afraid of the future and tend to take refuge in the past. French society gets bogged down because of this lack of optimism.
However, if you could get a message through, that would be very nice. I almost choked with rage when I watched a report on FoxNews. They lied about Paris and invented “no–go zones“ where non-Muslims would be prohibited, where Sharia law would be applied. In comparison, the Chicago of Al Capone would be a loving nursery.
Yes, there are suburbs with problems, but to say that Paris has become cut throat, that’s pure nonsense. This report was passed on here by the media and millions of French were shocked. I live in one of those supposed “no–go zones,” near Montmartre… I am even more upset because I am pro-American, in heart and mind. I love the United States so much that I even married (for real) in Las Vegas with my wife and… Jacques was my best man!
Thank you very much gentlemen for being on my blog today. I look forward to reading the next books in the series and maybe having you on again!
The Authors: Éric Giacometti & Jacques Ravenne:
Jacques Ravenne is a literary scholar who has also written a biography of the Marquis de Sade and edited his letters. He loves to explore the hidden side of major historical events.
Eric Giacometti was an investigative reporter
for a major French newspaper. He has covered a number of high-profile scandals and has done exhaustive research in the area of freemasonry.
About The Translator: