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November 18, 2015

Laurent Guillaume: Writing with No Rules

I am a compulsive reader and love the great American authors such as James Ellroy, Michael Connelly, Elmore Leonard, Raymond Chandler, and Dashiell Hammett. When I was a police officer, I had a burning desire to write, and then one day I made the jump.

I force myself to write three or four pages a day, every day, because I’m indolent by nature and like all lazy people, I need strict discipline or else I while away my time watching movies or reading.

Sometimes I start with an event and the characters come afterwards, other times I start with a character (as was the case with Solo in White Leopard) and I dive into a plot afterwards. There are no rules.

I allow the plot to mature in my mind for several weeks without taking any written notes, because I find I get locked into what I write down, which reduces the options. When the story is ripe in my mind, I jot it down, in a maximum of three pages—three pages of indications. When I begin the actual writing, however, I won’t stick to those notes, because the story needs to live its own life.

cover White Leopard
Generally speaking, I feel what my characters feel, because I project myself into the scene. I imagine that is not terribly unique, but it is this capacity to immerse myself in the story that allows me to write. When it comes to the violence in my stories, I know the subject well, having spent years on night patrol in the housing projects outside of Paris. Violence was daily. This makes it easy for me to describe as a process that both fascinates and disgusts me.

Personally, I can’t stand writing bull, so all my books take place in a pertinent and realistic geographic context. Setting is as important in books as it is in the movies. It allows readers to travel with the protagonist. As a result, I pay a lot of attention to the environment in which the plot unfolds. I love it when readers say, “I felt like I was there.”

Buy White Leopard at Amazon

About the Author
Laurent Guillaume is a multiple-award-winning French writer and former police officer. In law enforcement, he worked anti-gang, narcotics, financial crimes, and served in Mali as advisor to the local police. His first novel to be translated into English is hard-boiled noir, a PI story set in West Africa: White Leopard, published by Le French Book. 

By Laurent Guillaume
Hard-boiled African Noir. Everything is possible and nothing is certain. A man torn between two continents finds himself in a dangerous confrontation between tradition and corruption. Solo is a former cop who ran away from a dark past in France to start his life over again in Bamako, Mali, as a PI. An ordinary case turns out to be not so ordinary. The drug mule gets her throat slit. The French lawyer is too beautiful and too well-informed. The cocaine is too plentiful.

WHITE LEOPARD (Le French Book, November 2015; $16.95) was first published in French. The story was inspired by a real case that occurred while the author was stationed in Mali as advisor to the local police.
For more information about White Leopard visit:

The views, opinions, and beliefs expressed by guest writers are their own and do not necessarily reflect those of Girl Who Reads. The image of Laurent Guillaume is used by permission of Le French Book. Girl Who Reads is an Amazon advertising affiliate; a small commission is earned when purchases are made at Amazon using any Amazon links on this site. Thank you for supporting Girl Who Reads.


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