January 12, 2016
'Words of love, are works of love' as Willian Alger the American writer said, seems to fit perfectly to the love and work of Cecile Rischmann (nee Fernandes). Her debut novel The French Encounter is a sensual telling of a deep abiding love that is the essence of true soul mates. The story takes inspiration from the reality of the authors own life.
Cecile was working at the Honorary Consulate of France in Chennai when she was invited to a party being held by a team of expatriates from Saint Gobain who had arrived in the country to build a glass float. Amongst the team of five from France was Jean Paul Rischmann who too attended the party and met Cecile there. The story that began at that party in the May of 1999 was solemnised at a wedding on the 13th of March, 2004 between Jean Paul Rischmann and Cecile.
Upon the completion of the glass float and one other project in India, the couple have since lived in Mexico for two years, Columbia for six months and Egypt for a year before relocating to Delhi for three years. Having returned to Chennai after that the couple shuttle between France and India. Cecile comes often to Chennai to spend time with her siblings.
Cecile wrote most of her book while travelling wherever her husband's work took her. Having always been passionate about writing, the retelling of her story was a very natural outcome of her way of escaping into the world of her imagination. For Cecile the attraction of reading Mills and Boon or of losing herself to her own imagination was the perfection that lay there. It was a world where everything was just right and exactly as she would like it to be, glaringly unlike reality itself.
Her love for writing manifested itself into short stories that she would write when in college and circulate to her friends. In 2014, her short story 'Jilted' was chosen in a nationwide contest and published in 'An Atlas of Love' - an anthology. Given that her first book speaks volumes on the little details of French lifestyle, she worked at the Honorary Consulate of France in Chennai and she is married to a Frenchman, Cecile as a student in school, was not very fond of French. Terrified of her professor, she often bunked her French classes in order to avoid being put in the spot. At one time, her teacher asked her to answer a question in front of the whole class and when, a very nervous Cecilia (as she was known back then) did not answer, her professor said, “Cecilia, you are going to miss the boat in French.”
A Goan by origin, Cecile hails from a family of artistes. Her late mother was a singer, father a chef, brothers are professional violinists, and her sister, a music teacher. She loves to sing, dance, read, and ofcourse, write. Having completed her schooling, she went on to complete five years of studying the language until her Diploma Superior and a Stage Pedagogiue at the Alliance Francaise. She also pursued her MA in French at the Madras University. Apart from French, Cecile has studied, Italian, Spanish and Business English Higher as well. She completed her Creative Writing Course at the British Council, Delhi and finally Masters in Human Resource Management at the Annamalai University.
When Cecile decided to write 'The French Encounter' she says the magic of the story enthralled her so much that she enjoyed working on it all the way through completion. She had the synopsis clearly mapped out in her head and she knew the direction the narration was to take. Cecile feels that writing a novel demands a lot of hard work, belief in the story the writer wishes to tell and most importantly in perseverance.
Cecile met her own Frenchman at the age of 29 and at a time when personally she was quite serious about getting married. The perspective fairly petrified Jean Paul Rischmann for he wasn't looking for a wife. The central concept of the story 'The French Encounter took root at that juncture in her life, although she only began to put the story onto paper in Mexico a good five or so years later when she was in Mexico.
Contextually the French Encounter is based in Chennai and her family was entirely unaware that she liked to write at all or that she was actually penning a novel. Having completed her novel, Cecile was hesitant to approach a publishing house as she wasn't sure if they would want to publish a novel as bold as hers. She was also quite keen to be part of every step of the publishing process and that narrowed her options down to independent publishers only. When Cecile did not get any good deals from the publishers that she approached, her husband invested in her book and she took up the diamond package offered by Partridge India.
Cecile looks forward to writing a book on her travels to various countries as well as on completing her other project - Visa to Paradise. The French Encounter is available in paperback, hardback as well as Kindle editions. Partridge India has released a video trailer of her book on YouTube as well.