I wanted to ask writer Loulou Robert to tell us about her book, Bianca, and how and why she came to write it…
Loulou Robert | Writer & Model
I never really pursued writing. It just happened. Naturally. After two years in New York, I felt the need to go back to France. I sensed that something was about to happen. I started writing in the plane on my way back, short texts, a sort of travel journal based on a 20-year-old girl splitting her time between Paris and New York. The texts were picked up by Elle France. Then, one morning in May, at 9am, at a café on rue du Temple called Café Strada, I got the urge to write this story. Bianca’s story. About a 16-year-old girl living in a psychiatric unit for teens. It’s the story of her journey, her encounters. A life story.
Through my characters, I speak about the suffering teenagers experience, a suffering misunderstood by parents and doctors. Bianca isn’t doing well, but she doesn’t know why, like a lot of young people today. At the beginning of the novel, it’s like Bianca is behind a glass wall. She doesn’t feel anything. She is anesthetized. She wants to quit everything. She refuses to speak, eat, or live. After a suicide attempt, she’s committed to the psychiatric hospital.
Slowly over time, through love and friendship, and thanks to the characters Jeff and Simon, the glass wall begins to crack. Bianca begins to feel again. Life begins to make a comeback. Life wins.
I wrote Bianca in two months, in the same cafe (I never write at home, I like the ambiance in cafes, the noises, the stories going on around me). The words came out on their own. It was amazing. As the chapters went on, the story made me laugh and cry. I felt for my characters. Thanks to Bianca, I found myself. I filled a void. And ever since, I can’t stop writing. My characters live with me in a part of my mind. They never leave me.
My dreams? I started writing again after Bianca came out. It’s hard to find the time when you’re promoting a book. I’m also taking acting classes every night. Acting is another way I express myself.
I’d like to write a second novel, create a role for film and make a film adaptation based on Bianca. I’d like to see her on the big screen. I’d also like to co-write the script so I can continue on the journey with her and my characters.
With Bianca, I’m addressing an entire generation of teenagers. I’ve just come out of adolescence myself. I think I am understood by a lot of young people who identify with Bianca and with the other characters. Young people today, including me, are put under way too much pressure. We are expected to know who we are by the time we are 18. To make choices. To know what we want. To pursue certain fields that will lead to certain careers. At 18, you don’t know yourself. It takes time. Sometimes years. Bianca reveals the violence of being a teenager. That time when your body is changing, your parents are annoying, school is stressful, you have trouble sleeping, and you’re starting to develop your own awareness. It’s a difficult time. Sometimes unbearable, and extremely painful. And people often minimize that pain. When I was 16, I felt the weight of the world and all that was wrong with it. I struggled. I needed time, years actually, and now Bianca is here. With me every day.
A year ago, when I was coming back from New York, I broke up with modeling. It was taking up too much space. I didn’t feel fulfilled. I set that life aside. And at that moment, I began to write, and I remember saying to myself: “Oh yeah, of course, that’s it” the thing I was missing. The thing that filled the void.
I’ve since gone back to modeling, but not like before. I like photography. I like meeting people. And to write, you need to be able to find inspiration in your experiences. But writing is in its own category. Writing is what I think about every day. My characters, my words. And I’m also doing some comedy now…In a year’s time, my life has completely changed.
Today, I feel like I’ve found myself, even though deep down, I think you never truly find yourself. You change, you grow, you evolve. But for the moment, that’s where I am.
Translated by Andrea Perdue
Shot at Hotel Grand Amour