Nathalie Roy’s “I chose January”: living your mourning in writing

Leaving a familiar niche – the chicklit – to be interested in a serious subject, the novelist Nathalie Roy was inspired by her own family experience to write her new novel, I chose January. The book tells of the end of life of a man with pulmonary fibrosis and the impact of his choice – to seek medical aid in dying – on those around him. This poignant and topical subject is treated with great tenderness.

Nathalie Roy has been carrying this story in her heart for several months. Her father, journalist Guy Roy, died in January 2019 after seeking medical assistance in dying. She drew on her relationship with him to draw this novel.

Lili, the heroine of the novel, was shocked when her father announced that he had chosen January to die. Paul, who has pulmonary fibrosis, wants medical help in dying.

How to get through this ordeal?

In an interview, Nathalie Roy explains that what she and her family experienced is “so exceptional, so out of the ordinary”, that she said to herself: why not make it a novel, since that’s what that she likes to do. “It came out, after all.”

Fictionalized history

Apart from the character of Paul, inspired by his father, who was a journalist at Montreal Journal for several years, the other characters are fictional and the story is romanticized. “It gave me more freedom.” She changed her style, and this is the first novel that she did not write to “I.”

“Reliving everything I went through with my father brought me to fairly intense areas. On the other hand, he is always with me … it allows me to mourn for a long time. “

She cried while writing certain passages, but she remembered the cheerful and good-natured character of her father, her joy in life. “He approached death in a very particular way. Sometimes I laughed, because I said to myself: my God, people will believe that this character is larger than life. But it may be. He was my father. It’s been a roller coaster of emotions. ”

His opinion

Nathalie Roy has made up her mind on medical aid in dying. “At the time my father applied, this was a very topical subject. I made this reflection at the same time as I lived the situation with my father. For me, medical aid in dying is really essential to our society. We will also have to find ways to make it even more accessible, because I saw how liberating it could be for the person, and also for those around them. “

“My father gave us the gift of leaving when he was sick, of course, but not in a state where it would have been extremely difficult to see him. He left with all his head, calmly, and for us, this is an extraordinary gift. “

This is the message she wanted to convey in this book. “There is a way to mourn peacefully, by sharing memories. We have to think about making this act even more accessible, in my humble opinion. “

“I am not a professional, I am just someone who has lived it and who is extremely grateful, especially at the moment, because honestly, I look at people who are losing loved ones right now. It must be extremely painful not to be able to be there, not to be able to celebrate the lives of these people. We will have to take care of these people. “

► Nathalie Roy is an author and director.

► His first series, The Spicy Life of Charlotte Lavigne, has been very successful and has been sold in France, Poland and the Czech Republic.

EXTRACT

“Françoise returns with a rectangular box which she places in front of her husband. He solemnly opens it and distributes to everyone a bookmark … on which appears his photo with the title: Died on January 8.

Lili stifles a cry of stupor, Xavier feels his heart tighten in his chest, and Yasmine is terribly uncomfortable.

– It’s true that it surprises. But read the back, it will make you happy.

Lili is unable to take her eyes off the word “Deceased”. A word that signifies death, the end, extinction, disappearance … definitive and final. A bookmark that announces mourning in advance. “

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