Outskirts Press Interviews Personne, author of “Traitor Comet”

Author Personne is taking her latest book, Traitor Comet on tour – a Virtual Book Tour, that is, with Outskirts Press! Technology has created a wide variety of ways to reach audiences all over the world. All it takes is a little thinking outside the box, and nowadays you can market a self-published book in a variety of affordable and impactful ways. Virtual book tours, for example, are a great way to connect with readers from all corners of the globe, all from the comfort of your own home. Join Personne and Traitor Comet    as they appear in features and interviews (such as the one below) in the weeks and months ahead!

OP: Tell us a little bit about Traitor Comet.  What is it about?

Personne:  The first in a 4-book series on the lives and friendship of avant-garde writers Antonin Artaud and Robert Desnos, who both endured the Holocaust. Traitor Comet takes place in 1926. The novel series will follow their lives.

OP: Why did you decide to write this story?

Personne:  I never set out to write this novel—I set out to write a sci-fi novel about a nonhuman creature who acquired human speech and finds how words are limiting. But it went nowhere. Then I discovered the works of Antonin Artaud, who explored the limitations of speech and traced the evolution of his thought from its vague impression toward the creation of a “form” in which to contain thought, and was frustrated by how forms of thought (poetry, essay, biography, etc.) never precisely expressed what he really wanted to say. Artaud’s poetry and his ”crisis of language” spoke to me.

At some point, I realized Artaud’s concerns—and his tragic life—had taken over my novel and invigorated it. And because his life and sad fate was so inextricably entwined with the poetry and heroic actions of Robert Desnos, I weaved the story of Desnos—jocular, hard-drinking, romantic, and brave—into this novel as well.

So, the novel series, of which Traitor Comet is the first novel, is sort of a “hybrid,” like cultivated wheat or corn, or perhaps like an invasive plant such as the dandelion that ultimately because beneficial in its new environment. It’s not really sci-fi, but has those elements; it’s also historical fiction, but infused with surrealism and fantastical elements, echoing the works of both Artaud and Desnos. And there is a murder, or perhaps a murder, since Desnos was obsessed with famous murderers (Jack the Ripper, Joseph Vacher, Fantômas).

Traitor Comet, and the subsequent novels, are Gatsby-like in that the story is told from the point of view of “Geoff,” an Austrian who is part French and British (his name is British), who, like so many young people in the 1920s, are alienated from society. Geoff encounters Artaud and Desnos when they are still part of the Surrealist Movement in Paris but becoming disillusioned by the peer pressure to join the Community Party. Haunted by his past, Geoff is simultaneously drawn to and critical of Surrealism, as Artaud increasingly is, and as Desnos will ultimately be. And through it all, there is the question of a murder—which is mirrored by the great murder that took place during World War II.

OP: How did you get your book published? 

Personne: After trying to go through mainstream publishing channels, the growing international visitors at my website made me decide to finally self-publish. I chose Outskirts Press after researching the best and most reputable options for self-publishing.

OP: What types of readers would be interested in this story?

Personne: Fans of Antonin Artaud and Robert Desnos, certainly—but also anyone fascinated by the avant-garde scene in 1920s Paris, and anyone who wants to learn about the beginnings of Surrealism before Salvador Dali, who while more famous, came later to the movement. Also anyone searching, alienated from mainstream society, but also wry about ideologies and movements, will find a home (as much as they can find a home) in my tale.

OP: What is special about your book?  

Personne:  Most works about Artaud and Desnos are biographies. The few fiction pieces that exist don’t really, I think, get close to these men, particularly Antonin Artaud. I walk with them both for over two decades, and believe me, it was and is a walk through fire. Robert Desnos nearly destroyed himself with alcohol, opium and pining for a singer who never returned his love. Antonin Artaud, while mostly a mild and kind person, was subject to rages and at times alienated many of his friends and colleagues. He was addicted to opium, as a result of a childhood illness that also left his wracked with pain for most of his life, and he struggled with mental illness, too. Yet he warned his friends against taking drugs, tried to break his addiction, and wrote day-and-night in his effort to transform writing, the theater, and life itself.

Both men, at times, are difficult to like, which is why the fiction that has been written about them seems to me to be distant, intellectualized, or fawning, without criticism. I love these men—which means that, at times, Geoff fights with them, argues with them, and sees them for what they are—much more than Surrealists, or poets, or avant-garde historical figures—they were human beings. The most dangerous fact about Antonin Artaud was that he was a brother, a son, a lover, a friend, and a vulnerable, emphatically honest person, much more than the oracle some of his admirers have cast him as. And Robert Desnos too was a son, a friend, and ultimately, a soldier who served in the French Resistance, who had to make a dangerous decision in order to save his friend, Antonin Artaud, from the Nazi Occupation of Paris.

OP: What differentiates it from other books in the same category? 

Personne: There are no other novels in this category. As I said earlier, there are biographies of Artaud and Desnos—and I think there are one or two in which Robert Desnos appears as a character—but there are no novels or even biographies that focus on the unique, sometimes troubled, but enduring friendship that leads one to save the other’s life.

OP: Have you published any other books, and do you plan to publish more?

Personne: The sequel to Traitor Comet will come out in 2024. I have not published any other novels but I have written them—about the Bigfoot legend, about an aviation museum, and I’m working on a horror/psychological thriller about a “haunted” house, inspired by author Shirley Jacksons’ The Haunting of Hill House.

OP: How can someone learn more about your book or purchase it?

Personne: Traitor Comet is available in paperback, eBook or PDF download from Outskirts Press and from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and any other major online outlet.

Click to purchase: Traitor Comet by Personne, published by Outskirts Press

OP: Thanks for your time, Personne! We look forward to learning more about you as you visit other bloggers!


he author of this novel series has been working on a way to tell the story of the lives of Antonin Artaud and Robert Desnos for 30 years. Other publications include horror, science fiction, and weird short stories as well as independent journalism. “Personne” has also been an actor, dancer, scholar, librarian, archivist and voice-over artist.

Visit the website: https://artauddesnosthenovel.com/

Watch video promo here.

Coming Soon: L’Etoile de Mer (The Starfish), sequel to Traitor Comet

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