Former top tennis athlete, Marie-Christine Chartier talks about performance anxiety and its drifts in her third novel, Otters sleep. A novel studying character psychology, he tells the story of the encounter between a child actor plunged into decay and a young woman who dreams of a career in medicine, while treating a heartbreak.
Jake is 21. As a child actor, he grew up too quickly, in the spotlight. A few months ago, his life took a turn for the worse. To rebuild himself, he decided to start from scratch, return to his parents and work as a diver in a pizzeria.
Émilie, 18, dreams of a career in medicine. Ambitious, she studies, also works in the pizzeria, and tries somehow to recover from a break up with her boyfriend. Over the evening discussions, Jake and Émilie will learn to support and rebuild, slowly.
Marie-Christine tackles more dramatic themes than in the two previous novels. “I think every time I dig. In my first novel, I was more light-hearted. I was touching sensitive points, but I was playing for pure pleasure. In the second novel, I played a bit on sadness, ”she comments in an interview. She was not afraid to go even further in The sleep of otters.
Make it out
The writer had long carried the character of Jake, whom she wanted to be deeply human, without falling into the cliché of the child actor. “He’s had a unique journey that has led him to make choices that he may regret. He’s got some money, some notoriety, but basically he’s a guy that got a little bit wrong and doesn’t know how to get over it. “
Jake, in fact, can’t manage performance anxiety. Marie-Christine, a former top athlete, also knows this “bug” of anxiety. “He is an anxious person who did not recognize himself as such until he had experienced his adventures. Of course I too have anxiety in life. It’s not a taboo for me, I know that. In this, Jake cares about me. ”
However, the character that most resembles her, she adds, is Emilie. “I see her … and that’s me when I was 18, in her intransigence, in her desire for perfection. I find myself a lot more in this character and the further I go in the novel, the more of myself I put into it, without it being my stories, or stuff that I did. It’s more in the emotions, in the feeling. “
The novelist wanted two opposites to meet. “I wanted one to be able to understand the other’s flaws, and see how they could help each other.”
“I am having difficulty readjusting to life in Quebec. My bed is too soft, too soft, and my heart is worse than before. I haven’t yet returned to work in the pizzeria. My boss lets me recover as much as I want, because he’s a good friend of my mother’s, practically an uncle to me, and because he knows how to be understanding. So I spend the time lying on my bed staring at the ceiling. Or worse, fooling around on social media. I am a cliché of my time. ”
- Marie-Christine Chartier is a former high level tennis athlete.
- She is doing a doctorate in educational psychology at Laval University and will be teaching this fall.
- She also published The Allegory of the Rainbow Trout and Just like the turtles.