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28 novembre 2010 7 28 /11 /novembre /2010 22:33

20 | 352LUXMAG - Article 10.2010 



J. K. Rowling

Mara Montebrusco-Gaspari

Published childrens author Mara

Montebrusco-Gaspari received her

big break last month when she

signed a deal with Lux Animations to

animate her children’s book Igor the Cat

(Les aventures d'Igor le Chat - http://www.igorlechat.com )

She spoke to reporter Jess Bauldry about

writing and holding down a full-time job,

her love of cats and who she would choose

to play her in the planned feature


When did you first begin writing ?

I began writing seriously about 3 years ago

although I’ve always been interested since I

learned to write. I began with poems, when I

was about eight, and then started with short

stories. I always just wrote for myself until a few

years ago when I realised I was getting old and

should start doing what I like to do. I work fulltime

for European Institution in Kirchberg and

have one daughter. When you work and have a

family you don’t have time to do what you want

to do. But, now that my daughter is 17 I have

more free time for myself to do what I want.

Even if I work full-time and have a lot to do I

make time for writing now; writing enables me

to cope with the daily stress.

Tell us about Igor the cat, where did the

idea come from?

Igor was based on my cat, also called Igor. He

died nine years ago and I suppose that the book

was a way for my cat to live on. The story (it’s

a christmas story) is very close to reality in a lot

of ways. Igor comes back as a ghost and looks

after his owner’s daughter, a girl called Sara,

a character based on my daughter. I am in the

book as well, as the mother of the young girl.

All the action takes place in Luxembourg City

and in Echternach. I used to create stories for my

daughter when she was young. Although this

story wasn’t especially for her we did discuss

it together and we worked on some things

together, for example, she put toghether and

styled the pictures used for the book cover.

How did Luxembourg inspire your book?

I find that Luxembourg is a very beautiful city

and an ideal backdrop for a film. But there are

not many stories that are set here. For some

reason it’s sometimes forgotten by writers.

Having such a beautiful backdrop like Luxembourg

city (Unesco), with the Pétrusse valley, the

Casemates, the fortress etc, it’s very inspiring.

I love going around these places and finding

stories. It’s quite magical I suppose.

Was it easy to find a publisher ?

At the beginning I published the book myself

with Books on Demand. I printed a few hundred

copies on demand. Eventually I found a French

publisher, which I was really happy about. The

trouble is it’s not that easy publishing books in

French in Luxembourg as publishers focus more on Luxembourgish and

German manuscripts. I did most of the marketing myself in bookshops

and libraries and on Facebook, and I contacted LuxAnimation to pitch an

animation of the book.

Tell us about the deal with LuxAnimation

I sent my pitch several months ago and as I didn’t hear anything I

contacted them again and they said they were about to read it and

were enthusiastic shortly thereafter. I think that they liked the fact that

the story is set in Luxembourg, the characters and poetry in the story.

They are now writing the scenario and are trying to get the funding and

producers to fi nance the project.

I know that it will be in French and I guess in English too as it will be

produced for an International audience. I feel confi dent that LuxAnimation

will do a good job. They have the right experience and contacts to

make a success of it. So far they have already co-produced animations

like ‘Le petit Nicolas’ ‘Iron Man’ and ‘Nine’ for which the main producer

was Tim Burton. I don’t know whether I will have a speaking part. We

haven’t discussed that yet as the project is about two years away from

making it to cinemas. I suppose that if I could choose someone to do the

voice it would be J. K. Rowling herself for the English version or Meryl

Streep. And why not Isabelle Huppert for the French version.

Has the deal changed your life at all ?

Since a few weeks ago when LuxAnimation decided they would animate

the book and press got suddenly interested in my novel, people have

started recognising me in public. Most people who have approached me

have said they think it is fantastic that I am able to do a full-time job and

write. It makes me so happy to hear how enthusiastic people are and to

know that the work I have done has been recognised. And I’m so happy

to have the characters I created on the page come to life on the screen.

What’s in the pipeline ?

I have already completed another book but it’s a picture book for smaller

children. I have yet to fi nd a publisher for it though. It’s called ‘La

Sorcière d’Opale’ and is about a Witch travelling from Afghanistan to the

North of France who helps asylum seekers get to England. She brings

her cat and broom with her and it’s all about her journey and her quest

for tolerance and freedom. I’m also already thinking of writing a sequel

of Igor the Cat as the end leaves it open to this.

Cats feature a lot in your work. Why do you think that is ?

I like cats very much. They don’t feature in all my work but I think that

they are good characters because you can let them do what they want;

they are independant and mysterious. After Igor died we bought a second

cat, a siamese called Siam-Carlos, who also features as the bad cat

in the book. He has since died too recently. So now I am without cats

but it won’t be long before we I get a new one. I suppose that I can’t

live without cats.

You’ve been compared to Harry Potter author J. K. Rowling,

what do you think of that ?

A reviewer in Belgium wrote that Igor the Cat was the Luxembourg

Harry Potter. I never really thought of it before. I’ve since ever dreamed

of becoming a full-time writer. But you have to sell a lot of copies to

make enough money to live off because a lot of the cover price goes

towards print, editor, distribution and library costs, leaving very little for

the poor author at the end. I am quite realistic and I don’t think I’m quite

at the same level as Harry Potter just yet. But perhaps I should let the

public decide

For more information or to fi nd out where you can purchase a copy of

Igor Le Chat, visit www.igorlechat.com

Text: Jess Bauldry

Photo: Xavier Patris

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  • : Le blog de Mara Montebrusco-Gaspari
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