Interview of Diane Massicotte

1- You are not quite well known in Europe, like you seem to be in Québec. Could you tell us more about your professional career, your influences?

I have always worked in the cultural and artistic backgrounds. First I was a journalist at the “Journal de Montréal” and then I served in a number of positions at different radio stations and TV channels, before working in press relation as a freelancer (mostly to promote my books). My 30 years working have enabled me to be in contact with all of the actors of the francophone arts and culture backgrounds. Today I am a passionate blogger and I have a lot of pleasure being connected to the social media.

2- Regarding the book, how did the collaboration between you and Laurent Cayla happen and how did you mentally prepare for the interview of Laurent as a former drug-addict? Your feelings, emotions, what you thought? Did this interview impress you?

I met Laurent Cayla at home for a series of interviews, actually 18 hours of recorded conversations. I wrote about this period in the text « Au-delà des apparences » (beyond appearances), on my blog. During the process my breath was often taken away as the emotion was so intense. I had to put myself into his mind to translate as accurately as possible his painful path. That is the reason why I have written using the “je” (“I”) and the present tense. This experience is still stuck within my mind…

3- What motivated you to join the project? Céline Dion? Laurent Cayla? The fact that it would be something out of the ordinary?

I fell in love with Laurent’s story. I instantly felt for his passion, his emotion and also the desire to make this project happen. It was my turn to help Laurent. The fact that René Angélil was approving of the project and was okay with me writing the book was also crucial in my decision. Moreover, the proposal arrived through a friend of mine, Mia Dumont, who works with Céline and René since the beginning of the career.

4- This book is not a traditional one. The writing must have been special… What was your approach toward this original work?

That is the title « Au-delà de l’image », which guided me throughout the writing. A word is also a bearing image… Beyond photos, beyond the image projected through the show-business thing, I wanted to show, if I may say so, the uncommon life of Laurent. Beyond the photographer and his camera, there is… Emotion! I have written about this aspect on my blog in « Au-delà de l’image ».

5- The writing comes as the result of many hours interviewing Laurent Cayla. By reading it we feel like a strong violence in the feelings. And the words you used to talk about his drugs are cold, tough, brutal, nearly too “real”… How did you experience this period, during which we feel you were very committed? Did you need to confide to your family or friends? A bit like a psychologist who would need a therapy himself to avoid being too much affected by those he helps?

« Nearly too real »… Thank you. That is exactly what I wanted to produce, so that the reader feels the emotion I was feeling when listening to Laurent. Nearly as if the reader was writing the book himself… I have lived this writing period as a recluse, so as to not loose this special “thing” and to keep a maximum of concentration. That is what I called “my salt mining” on my blog. Very few people around me actually knew about the topic of my book. I think this is essential, if you don’t want to deviate from the right path. Nevertheless, there is a high price to pay. I know it now, and I told my relatives I am still intoxicated. Your comparison with a psychologist affected by those he helps is completely right.

6- Have you participated in picking up the photos? Was the selection made according to the story or the anecdotes, which touched you the most?

No, I had to take into account the photos chosen by Laurent, writing my text, in order to respect the chronological events linked to Céline and René. I certainly must have watched them hundred times!

7- If you had to take one page, one photo, one text, what would they be?

OMG… That is a difficult question. That is like asking a mother if she prefers the eyes, the hair or the lips of her child! As far as literature is concerned, I like a lot the beginning of the second part, which I entitled “The world is stone” (“Le monde est stone”, on pages 18 and 19). Also the sixth part, entitled “S’il suffisait d’aimer”, where I explain that, for Céline, the show-business is like a drug and that she actually is successful in remaining down-to-earth. Regarding the pictures, there are too many, I could not pick only one.

8- The book is a success in Québec, both among Céline fans and non-fans. How would you explain the public’s reaction?

The book connects with Céline fans through the photos and I would say the text can attract non-fans, and make people see Celine differently at the same time. We can say there are two books in one in a way.

9- Céline is an « open book », as she likes to say, she likes to confide and talk about her. Can you tell us what you think this book can bring new to the Céline Dion fans?

The story of an outstretched hand is one of human generosity, touching all those who have an addiction, no matter if you are a star or not. Fans know that Céline and René are exceptional human beings and by making this book they get an example, a demo of a real story, that was actually lived through.

10- Do you know why is the book only distributed in Québec? Our first reaction is that we cannot understand such a matter of fact, Céline being an international star, her audience is in Asia, Europe, in America… A lot of fans are frustrated. Is there hope for a translation and a worldwide distribution?

This has to do with selling the rights abroad. To make a book accessible to other countries, a local publisher, if I may say so, has to buy the rights in order to distribute the book on his territory. I think there are negotiations in this direction.

11- This year, two books of photos have been released about Céline. « Céline autour du Monde » by Gérard Schachmes, and yours « Céline: Au delà de l’image ». Have you got the first one and how would you differentiate both books?

There is one year between each book. I do not own « Céline autour du Monde » but I glanced through it. It is obvious the difference between them is that « Céline: Au-delà de l’image » tells more about a story of great magnanimity from a star toward a junkie.

12- The result of « Céline: Au-delà de l’image » is sublime. Are you totally satisfied with the « baby » as of today?

Thank you, I have really put all my heart within the project. The book now has got his own life. By reading it, the reader is giving life to the book; it becomes his book.

Thank you again to Diane for taking the time to answer our questions. She succeeded in explaining Laurent Cayla’s life and feelings very well. Céline fans can therefore better understand the pictures in this book.