Marilyn Z Tomlins is a writer who lives and works in Paris. Her book “Die in Paris” tells the story of France’s most prolific serial killer and J Patrick O’Connor, best selling author and editor of Crime Magazine says of it “with style, Marilyn Z Tomlins’ “Die in Paris”, tells the incredible story of France’s most prolific murderer. Readers will discover a truly psychotic killer…” (photo of Petiot’s court case, the suitcases piled at the back are evidence, the suitcases of his victims…)
French book worm caught up with Marilyn in Paris where she lives…
What is it that drew you to Paris and why do you love it so much?
I was born and grew up in South Africa and worked for a magazine group in Durban when I met an English journalist holidaying in the country. So girl met boy and boy proposed to girl, and we had to decide where we were to live. We studied the pros and cons of half a dozen countries and he said, “I’ve always wanted to live in Paris,” so we came to Paris.
I love Paris and thank the Universe every day for having brought me to Paris.
I recall when we first came… it was the first warm, sunny day after a cold, wet and snowy winter, and I was walking across one of the bridges over the Seine and I heard music. Someone was playing a violin. I leaned over the edge of the bridge and there down on the bank sat a young man, in shirt sleeves, his jeans rolled up and his feet in the water, and he was playing a violin. I stood listening to him for a long time: he was quite lost to the world, lost to that sweet sound from his violin. I imagined that he lived in a tiny, dark and cold attic room somewhere close to the river and must all winter have waited for spring to come. That is Paris! That is why I love this city. Why I can hug it.
I live on the southern border of Paris and I have a most fantastic view of Paris. Standing on my small terrace on a summer night, the Eiffel Tower flickering in the distance, is sheer magic.
What do you do in your spare time in Paris – things you like best about Paris?
I go to museums and exhibitions. Some mornings to the cinema. I go for very long walks. By long I mean I walk for several hours at a time along Paris’s cobbled streets and although I can’t believe it, I do still come to streets I’ve not been in before.
I think it will be correct if I say that I see each and every exhibition that opens in Paris. I love the Louvre and buy a day ticket online so I don’t have to queue for hours, I go in at around 11 and stay until the end of the day.
I am also a cemetery enthusiast by which I mean I love walking around cemeteries. My favourite is the Russian cemetery at Saint-Genevève-des-Bois outside Paris. It was on grave stones I found the names for the characters in the novel I am writing now: the novel is set in France. Anyone writing a novel should go for a walk through a cemetery in order to name the protagonists.
What do I like best about Paris, you ask? The culture. I mean even the cemeteries are filled with culture. With the departed too yes, of course …
I started writing when / because ….
At school my teachers were always impressed with my essays and used to read them out to the other children. So it went from there. Then I went to work for a magazine group and once in Paris I started to write novels, never having finished any because there was always something else to do: like going on a holiday. I also started to write articles, working as a freelancer, eventually specialising in crime reporting after having worked for an Australian magazine (New Idea) writing about Royals and film stars.
Why do I write, you ask. Honestly, I do not know. I write because I write. It is what I do.
The hardest part of writing is ….
Well, ‘Die in Paris’ involved a lot of research, two years of research in fact. Writing non-fiction is tough because one must get one’s facts correct yet write tell the story in an interesting way.
Now I am writing a novel which is set in France and I can say that it is sheer pleasure because I am inventing everything. The characters in this novel never existed, and but for the name of the main character (Bella Wolff) all the names come from tombstones. I’ll give you one – Solange Marchardier. And another – Anselme Mathiot.
If you could have dinner with someone famous and French/living or dead, who would it be?
Napolèon Bonaparte. I am a great admirer of Napolèon.
If you were to cook for that person what would you cook?
Could I give him a Chinese take-away please?
My guiltiest pleasure is . . .
Red or white wine?
Neither. I am a pink person, so I drink Rosè.
What inspired you to write “Die in Paris”?
Editors note: Marilyn gave us an extraordinary story in answer to this one click here to read her ghostly answer!