Mercredi, 17 juillet 2024
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    Author Antoine Charbonneau-Demers’ big reveal

    I’m a big fan of Montreal author Antoine Charbonneau-Demers who is part of a new literary wave of young and exciting Québécois authors setting CanLit on fire. Charbonneau-Demers burst onto the literary scene in 2016 with his debut novel Coco which won the prestigious Prix Robert-Cliché literary prize awarded annually to an original French-language debut novel by a Canadian author.

    Other critically-acclaimed novels include Good Boy from 2018 and the auto fiction of Daddy which Antoine Charbonneau-Demers wrote in two weeks flat in 2020 during the COVID pandemic. He also won the young writer’s prize at the Salon du Livre de Paris in 2019 for his short story La femme à refaire le monde, and his new novel Roman sans rien will be published by VLB Éditeur in March.
    Born in 1994 in Rouyn-Noranda, Québec, the out actor, writer and graphic artist moved to Montreal at age 19 where he earned a Creative Writing degree from UQAM before studying at the Conservatoire d’art dramatique de Montréal. I recently sat down with the fluently bilingual Charbonneau-Demers for a candid Q&A. The interview has been edited for length and clarity.

    Why did you write Roman sans rien?
    Antoine Charbonneau-Demers: The novel is a reflection about writing and fiction and autobiography. The first part is a travel journal with names changed to protect the identities of people. The second part is complete fiction. It is one story from beginning to end, but separated in two parts and two ways of writing, one answering the other. It is my reflection on auto fiction and writing.

    Is the message of your book about trying to please others?
    Antoine Charbonneau-Demers: Yes. And how far we go to please others. Many writers, when they complete a book, when it’s done, it’s done. It’s like an art piece, something you look at on the wall. For me, I’m talking about myself. I am looking for empathy and want people to care for me.

    That’s very raw. Are you not scared to reveal yourself in this way?
    Antoine Charbonneau-Demers: It is scary. But I have put myself in vulnerable situations, such as with my Substack journal. Sometimes I ask myself, “Oh my God, what am I doing?” I was out there, even with my OnlyFans.

    Author and playwright Jordan Tannahill told me in this column in 2021 that he was supplementing his writing income with sex work. That same year in your Substack journal you wrote that you were launching an OnlyFans account.
    Antoine Charbonneau-Demers: I felt a need to do it. When I started to expose myself on Instagram and do slutty things, I remember at this moment in my life I was just out of the Conservatoire where for three years I had learnt how to be straight. That’s what acting school is, you know what I mean? I was so tired of playing dads and straight parts and acting as a straight man.

    When I finished school I decided I wanted to write, but I also wanted everybody to know that I was a sexual being too. Growing up in high school and university, I was always the funny one. I was never the cute one. But I wanted people to know I am also a sexual person. Doing OnlyFans was a choice. There are some things I did that I regret. But it was all by choice. It was all planned because I’m not like that in real life.

    How long did your OnlyFans last?
    Antoine Charbonneau-Demers : Around two months.

    I hope you made some money.
    Antoine Charbonneau-Demers : Yes, I did.

    Why did you stop?
    Antoine Charbonneau-Demers : I think it was a too much. There was too much exposure. People saw everything and I was tired of exposing my life and my body. It’s fine that there is still stuff out there today but I got to the point very quickly where I needed something just for me. I was also putting all my energy into the image I was projecting when really I just wanted to focus on my writing.

    What was your coming out like?
    Antoine Charbonneau-Demers : I came out to my friends in high school, at a party where this guy was trying to seduce me. I told my friends, “He’s not my type.” And that was that. Then Later I told my parents when I had a boyfriend and their reactions were great. But growing up in Rouyn-Noranda I never had the opportunity to go to a gay bar.

    How do you feel about gay bars today?
    Antoine Charbonneau-Demers : Arriving in Montreal and discovering a whole new world was a revelation. In the beginning I was scared to go gay bars because I had nobody to go with. I think they are still important though I admit that – like many people – I do not frequent the Village very often. Interestingly, when I visited Berlin three times, I felt more comfortable going out and experimenting.

    Are you a gay writer or a writer who happens to be gay?
    Antoine Charbonneau-Demers : I’m a gay writer. I don’t only write about my gayness or gay stuff, of course, but I do write from a gay perspective no matter what I am writing about. I am very gay and I love gay culture.

    You have been invited to create a show at Théatre La Chapelle for next season.
    Antoine Charbonneau-Demers : Yes, this September I will perform a show based on my writing. This new project is very exciting! I am also working on a new book. I’m really glad Roman sans rien is being published as it closes a chapter in my life. I’m ready to move on.

    INFOS | Roman sans rien by Antoine Charbonneau-Demers (VLB Éditeur) will be published on March 13.

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