Who is Sylvain Reynard?
Mr. Reynard himself is not telling. He’s not even really Sylvain Reynard – it’s the pseudonym of an unidentified Canadian author, who has written two works of erotica that were originally ebooks, and have since been picked up for print versions by Berkley publishing (in a deal that was reportedly worth seven figures). We do know that he’s Canadian, and has several nonfiction books under his belt. Due to the settings for his two new novels, we can assume he may be a Torontonian, but we don’t know for sure.
We do know that if you if you enjoyed the Fifty Shades series or Bared to You, you’ll want to check out Mr. Reynard’s two new books, in stores now. At this moment, this is not a trilogy, but it seems the door isn’t closed on that possibility.
Gabriel's Inferno introduces readers to the enigmatic, attractive Gabriel Emerson – a University of Toronto Dante studies Professor who is tortured by his past. When the virtuous Julia Mitchell joins his graduate seminar at the University of Toronto, she alters their lives irrevocably.
In volume two, Gabriel's Rapture, Gabriel and Julia are sequestered on a romantic holiday in Italy. When they return, their happiness is threatened by conspiring students, academic politics, and a jealous ex-lover. When Gabriel is confronted by the university administration, will he succumb to Dante’s fate? Or will he fight to keep Julia, his Beatrice, forever?
The Indigo Fiction Blog recently had the opportunity to pose some questions to the mysterious Mr. Reynard; and today we’re pleased to share his responses.
Indigo Fiction Blog (IFB): Mr. Reynard: are you Margaret Atwood?
Sylvain Reynard (SR): That is a very good question.
IFB: What are your feelings about the Fifty Shades of Grey and the Crossfire Trilogy trend that E.L. James and Sylvia Day have turned into a phenomenon?
SR: I’m fascinated by it. I think it represents an interesting sociological development, as well as an intriguing literary one. Any author would be pleased to have their work read and enjoyed by so many people.
IFB: What are your thoughts on your publishing process? You did go from a small publisher to a big one in pretty short order, and our customers were asking us to carry your books before they were available to us. Is all this going according to a master plan, or are you just going along for a crazy ride?
SR: A wise person once said "Never assume a conspiracy when ineptness is sufficient for an explanation." I’m afraid there’s no master plan. I’ve been fortunate enough to garner readers who are passionate, supportive, and vocal, and they are the reason why my novels made the USA Today and New York Times bestseller lists. My readers are also why I continue to write.
IFB: What are your favourite works of erotica, or put another way: what works (besides the obvious) influenced your two Gabriel novels?
SR: I find the tension between chastity and modesty and passion to be incredibly erotic. So for me, I prefer literature that teases the senses but leaves something to the imagination. The poetry of e.e. cummings and John Donne come to mind, both of which made their way into my novels.
IFB: We’d be remiss if we did not inquire as to your inclusion of Dante’s Divine Comedy – this inclusion (as well as the references to other literary works) does set your work apart, as does your University of Toronto setting. Can you speak to why you chose to work in these two aspects?
SR: In my novels, the University emerges as a character in its own right. I’ve always been fascinated by the way universities are organized, how they function, how they police the boundaries between members of their community, etc. The University of Toronto is world-renowned for its academic excellence, so it would make sense for a promising young Dante specialist to teach there and for gifted graduate students to enter their programs.
Dante’s Divine Comedy is a story about a man’s journey through Hell, Purgatory, and finally, Paradise. It’s rife with symbols and allusions, heroes and villains, and so it lends itself to a narrative that focuses on a man’s quest for redemption. In addition, Dante’s love story with Beatrice provides even more interesting parallels to explore in a contemporary novel.
Thanks to our friends at Penguin Canada for facilitating this blog, and to Mr. Reynard himself for taking the time to answer our questions.
Have a look here for Mr. Reynard’s books, and many more bestselling erotic reads.