The Sirens of Suspense

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Jacques Ravenne is a literary scholar who has also written a biography of the Marquis de Sade and edited his letters. He loves to explore the hidden side of major historical events. Eric Giacometti was an investigative reporter for a major French newspaper. He has covered a number of high-profile scandals and has done exhaustive research in the area of freemasonry.


Knowing Jacques’ background in politics and Freemasonry, it is easy to see how that is incorporated into the stories. I’m curious how, or whether, Eric’s background in biochemistry and journalism appears in the character and adventures of Antoine Marcas.

As an investigative reporter, at the end of the 1990s, I was looking into a number of scandals touching freemasonry on the French Riviera. Stories of corruption and political racketeering were making the headlines in France. So, I got first-hand experience with the “dark side” of freemasonry, which allows us to give a more balanced perspective in the books. In Shadow Ritual, I used my studies in biochemistry to research the soma, which is made up of several hallucinogenic substances. Jacques also contributed to coming up with that cocktail, as he is very interested in the scientific aspect of the investigations. In fact, after a while, we worked so much together that it is hard to tell who did what.


You’ve mentioned that it would have been nearly impossible to publish this type of thriller in France had not Dan Brown already done so to success. Your work is more conscious of distinguishing between reality and fiction for the reader.  How do you choose the legends that you focus upon in the books? What’s your research process?

Yes, Dan Brown gave esoteric thrillers a boost worldwide. In France, it was as though publishers suddenly discovered the genre, even though a number of great authors (Americans and French) had already made their mark. But France has a special place in this area, as many themes related to esotericism and secret societies come from here: the Templars, the Cathars, Brocéliande, and the mysterious Rennes-le-Château that influenced Dan Brown for his Da Vinci Code, with its myths of the Priory of Sion and the secret descendants of Jesus. We have this whole legendary heritage as inspiration. Generally speaking, before we write an Antoine Marcas novel—we’ve released nine of them in French—we spend several months in libraries. Many of them are Freemason libraries, because that is where we can find the rarest books. We also meet with scholars. For Shadow Ritual, we researched the incredible true story of the Freemason archives that the Nazis stole from the Paris Freemason headquarters in 1940. The Soviets then recovered them in 1945, and only returned them to France in 2000. We were able to consult these archives at the Grand Orient de France collections in Paris. So, we can actually give our readers a full rundown on what is fact and what is fiction in our novels (see:


Has dealing with these topics caused any political/social repercussion for you?

No, unless you count that for the past ten years we’ve been giving a lot of conferences about Antoine Marcas and his investigations and the related themes in Freemason lodges and at book fairs.


I’m always fascinated when authors have a successful long-term partnership, especially when it is based on an initial friendship. How did the two of you meet? Do you divide the labor equally? What’s your writing process?

We wrote Shadow Ritual together, contributing equally. Obviously Jacques worked on the Freemason parts, and Eric on the thriller parts, but as we reread what the other wrote and correct it. Later in the series, however, we split the tasks differently. Jacques now writes the historical parts, and Eric writes Marcas’s contemporary adventures. But systematically, we both reread and work on what the other wrote in order to have an overall view of the story. Sometimes we even have memorable arguments, which we tend to resolve with a good bottle of Bordeaux.


Can you tell us a little bit about SHADOW RITUAL, and what’s coming next for you?

We wrote Shadow Ritual out of a passion for esoteric mysteries and thrillers. It embodies our youthful dreams, when we pretended to be Indiana Jones or Benjamin Gates in the south of France, looking for lost treasures. But at the time, we didn’t think we would become thriller writers. Since then, however, several other adventures in the Antoine Marcas series have been published in France. The next one to come out in English (planned for early 2016) holds some surprising information about the Freemason origins of the Statue of Liberty along with a somewhat astonishing link to the Eiffel Tower. We were able to access some unpublished documents that shed a new light on the construction of these two monuments. It was an opportunity to evoke the strong historical bonds that have always united our two countries. For us, the Antoine Marcas investigations are more then esoteric thrillers. We want readers to learn something and be entertained.





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One thing most people don't know about them: Éric got married in Las Vegas in 2010 and Jacques was his best man.

Book they wish they could read again for the first time: L.A. CONFIDENTIAL by James Ellroy (Éric), and IN SEARCH OF LOST TIME, Marcel Proust (Jacques).

What they're reading now: THE BLACK SWAN by Nassim Nicholas Taleb (Éric), THE FOUCHÉ MEMOIRS (Jacques).

Writing ambience: Total silence for Jacques; classical music or jazz for Éric.

Period in history they'd like to visit: For Jacques, it's the eighteenth century—he just wrote a biography of the Marquis de Sade. For Éric, it's Andalusia in the fourteenth century, because he is fascinated with the tolerance that reigned there at the time.

One thing they wish they'd known when they started writing: We would have wanted to take a masterclass with great thriller writers, something that doesn't happen in France.

If they could meet one of their characters: None of them. That would ruin how we imagine them.

If they could have one superpower: Invisibility for Éric, flying for Jacques.

If they could invite four people to a dinner party: Ava Gardner, President Kennedy, the esoteric poet Gérard de Nerval and his wife (Éric); Proust, Paul Valery, Fouché and Casnova (Jacques).