The Book Diva’s Reads is pleased to host a visit by Kim Devereux, author of Rembrandt’s Mirror. Ms. Devereux will be discussing her transition from filmmaker to writer.
From Film-maker to Writer
I think some writers are born holding a pen! I certainly wasn’t one of them. I did not craft my first short story at the age of five nor did I spend my teenage years writing witty diaries. I spent many years working in film and television.
Here I am directing an interview with German war veteran Franz Gockel who was serving as a gunner at Omaha Beach on D-Day (2004)
It was only two years ago that I embarked on an MA in creative Writing at Bath Spa University. However, I did not rate my chances as a writer. For starters, English was not my mother tongue and the last time I’d written narrative prose was in secondary school in Germany crafting multi-clause sentences as long as my arm.
Even as I started writing my novel I continued to hanker after film-making as a medium. I considered film-making to be a superior art form because it combined many media; visuals, music and sound. I also missed the collaborative element. Here I was – just me and the written word.
This is me (in red) posing for an arty shot with the crew during the making of my first short film, 10 Bulls.
Also, it has to be said, my mind loves complexity or perhaps I should say ‘complication’. And when I made my first short film 10 Bulls (see trailer on: https://vimeo.com/90628442), I was drawn to special effects, like a magpie to lametta. It incorporated CGI and much of it was done by leading post-production facilities Glassworks and the Framestore.
A still from the film incorporating an encounter with a fiery creature inside a cooling tower.
10 Bulls incorporated an underwater sequence.
10 Bulls went on to win awards, but it took seven years to make. Special effects on a small budget mean you’d better come equipped with supernatural powers of persuasion and time to wait for all those favours.
I also drew inspiration from finding unusual locations, such as this disused cooling tower for example.
We filmed in the space where the water used to be circulated for cooling.
I later used the same approach in writing, thinking about setting scenes in interesting surroundings. I drew inspiration from the Rembrandt house in Amsterdam, feeling the atmosphere, studying the layout and musing over what it would have meant for servants to be able to see into Rembrandt’s bedroom and entrance hall through windows from the stairwell.
I closed my eyes and let the characters loose in my mind, in whatever setting or situation I cared to imagine. It finally dawned on me, the opposite of what I had believed was true. The absence of visuals and sound and various media was not a hindrance but a virtue. A novel is like a recipe for the reader’s imagination. And readers can imagine anything in an instant. Without the need for a large crew or a big budget, the creative possibilities of the written word are endless.
But there is one thing that both art forms and perhaps all art forms have in common. A work of art is co-created in the act of looking at it. Think of the Mona Lisa’s smile. What is left in shadow is filled in by the imagination of the onlooker. And this is as it should be, for in the end the function of a work of art is to act as a mirror to those who are engaging with it. When we look at one of Rembrandt’s masterpieces we see something of ourselves in it. And this is why I’ve called the novel Rembrandt’s Mirror.
About the author:
Kim Devereux is the author of Rembrandt’s Mirror, a debut novel about the turbulent world of the master painter Rembrandt and the three women who shaped his life, seen through the eyes of his last great love and muse – Hendrickje Stoffels his housemaid.
Kim is also an award-winning short-film director and producer of documentaries. She holds an MA in History of Art and English Literature from the University of Edinburgh and an MA from Bath Spa in Creative Writing.
Connect with the author: Website | Facebook
Rembrandt’s Mirror by Kim Devereux
ISBN: 9781782396741 (hardcover)
ASIN: B00YLQU0BI (Kindle edition)
Publisher: Atlantic Books
Publication date: August 6, 2015
Hendrickje, a girl from a strict Calvinist family leaves her provincial home to find work as a housemaid. She enters Rembrandt’s flourishing workshop five years after the death of the great artist’s wife, an event that continues to haunt him. It is a house full of secrets and desires, and Hendrickje soon witnesses a sexual encounter between Rembrandt and Geertje, his implacable housekeeper. She is shocked to the core by their intense carnality and yet, slowly, she is drawn to Rembrandt by the freshness with which he perceives the world and the special freedom he seems to possess. Rembrandt is a man of dark corners, strange passions and a ruthlessness born from his need to put his art first. An involvement with him could be her ruin or her liberty. Rembrandt’s Mirror explores the three women of Rembrandt’s life, and the towering passions of the artist, seen through the eyes of his last, great love, Hendrickje.
Read an excerpt from Rembrandt’s Mirror here.
Buy the book
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