A top-secret research laboratory on an island in the St. Lawrence River in 1942 where scientists study the transmission of viruses by insects. In the summer of 2024, swarms of swarms invade the Montmagny region as an unprecedented heat wave hits Quebec, hit by a meteoric rise in cases of violence.
Updated yesterday at 7:00 am.
Inspired by historical facts, Mireille Gagné's new novel “Frappabord” sometimes seems like a waking nightmare. Terribly disturbing, but incredibly captivating.
“I myself was afraid of the environment when I was writing,” says the author of “The Snowshoe Hare,” who lives in Quebec, between laughs.
What's even more worrying, she adds, is that a week after completing her previous title, “Ironwood,” in which she wrote that her tree was being pruned, fiction has become reality. Then he died after writing about his father's death. “A lot of things have arrived. Seriously, if bed bugs start transmitting viruses in France, I will never write again! ” she says with humor.
But joking aside, why did you decide to set part of your novel in a near future that risks ending in catastrophe?
“It’s actually like a warning. »
We've had the hottest year, there's a lot of climate disruption, we've never experienced that before. I wanted us to become aware of this and then act. Like an oppressive ticking noise.
Mireille Gagné, author
It all started with his desire to write about Grosse-Île, that small piece of land in the St. Lawrence River that housed a war laboratory in the 1940s after previously serving as a quarantine site for Irish immigrants. And whose story she had heard from her mother, who moved to L'Isle-aux-Grues in the 1970s.
Everyone in the region knew someone who had worked in this famous laboratory, converted after the Second World War. However, because of the confidentiality agreements signed, no one really knew what was going on there, explains Mireille Gagné. “I went to interview the children and grandchildren of these people. “Some people told me, 'We never knew if what my grandfather said was true,'” says the author, who has also published poems and short stories in the last decade.
PHOTO ROCKET LAVOIE, LE QUOTIDIEN
Mireille Gagné at the Morrin Center cultural center in Old Quebec
In the fly's head
Then comes the month of June; Mireille Gagné decides to rent a yurt in L'Isle-aux-Grues for a few days with the idea of retreating to write. “I was outside with a dozen scoundrels harassing me like hell and unable to write. I said to myself: But what do they want? »
Then she remembered the first chapter of the book: She put herself in the head of a fly and her voice quickly became one of the three tones in the novel.
The knocking subsided in my imagination, then I began to move forward in the book, linking the two together.
Mireille Gagné, author
During her research, the writer also discovered that researchers in the war laboratory had investigated the possibility that the flies from Grosse-Île were vectors for the transmission of anthrax. This could certainly explain the origin of the recorded contamination cases. She points out that there are families on Grosse-Île who have always faced the reality of the virus since part of the island began welcoming immigrants into quarantine.
Nowadays, tourist tours and guides allow visitors to travel back in time to discover part of the place's history. But perhaps there is still something of that little-known past off the beaten path, she suggests. Descendants of these flies on which experiments were carried out and which could eventually appear and invade the province…
“By making the knocker speak, it was also this fantasy of making nature speak, which obviously must be angry when we behave like this. We ourselves are destroying our own environment; We are the only species capable of this. If I were to put myself in nature's shoes, I would tell myself that she must find us so stupid. It was this observation that got me thinking. »
An observation, one might add, as striking as the bite of a deer fly.