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Q&A: Vancouver Author Suzanne Chiasson Talks New Novel Tacet
Thursday 16 April 2020
From Canadian newspaper The Kingston Whig Standard:
Q&A: Vancouver author Suzanne Chiasson talks new novel Tacet
Suzanne Chiasson explores 'relationships that are outside the norm' in Tacet
Suzanne Chiasson’s novel Tacet explores the unique relations between a jazz singer, her benefactor and a boy from her past named Theo.
Emotional and entertaining, Chiasson takes readers on a deep exploration of the inner workings of a unique cast of characters, all set in Vancouver. We caught up with the author Suzanne to learn more.
Q. Can you offer a brief synopsis of your new book, Tacet?
A. It’s about family, really, but it starts with Charlotte. She’s a jazz singer, gifted but reclusive, living in a protected upper-class environment. She’s trying to find the purest expression of her voice, and in the process, ends up silent. She can’t sing. She can’t speak. Her benefactor, Jacqueline, schemes to maintain control over her, but it becomes clear that Jacqueline only wants Charlotte for her voice. It’s Charlotte’s unconventional relationship with Theo that provides a catalyst for change. The two of them find much-longed-for family in each other.
Q. What made this the right time to write it?
A. The story was conceived many years ago. It just took a while for the pieces to come together as a book. I studied theatre in university, and one of the theatre movements that made a great impression on me was Antonin Artaud’s Theatre of Cruelty, which aimed to assault the senses of the audience with an intense and visceral experience. I considered how this might apply to other art forms — literature, visual arts, music. And so, the character of Charlotte was born, with her quest to achieve an ultimate state of intensity and purity in her singing.
Another influence on Charlotte’s characterization was my experience with chronic fatigue syndrome in my 20s. I had to quit work and move back home for a few years. It opened my eyes to how much we value productivity, activity and independence in our society. There’s so much pressure to work more, do more, run more marathons — this is how we derive our self-worth. And if we’re sick, mentally ill, disabled, elderly, or for whatever reason, not capable of contributing in a high-productivity manner, where is our value? In my book, when Charlotte is no longer able to sing, she loses her value to Jacqueline. But not to Theo. He is able to see something in her beyond her ability to entertain.
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