Early 1980s. In the suburbs of Quebec City, cats mysteriously disappear… Joannie, a teenager who dreams of being a police officer, decides that these missing kitties will be her first investigation. With this novel, Sonia K. Laflamme gives young readers the bug of investigations!
Investigations on measure is actually two novels merged into one. Where did the idea for these stories come from?
The detective novel is a genre that appeals to me a lot as a creator, but also as a reader. It's a game of cat and mouse that is played offline between the author and the reader… The author hopes that the reader will not find the culprit or the person responsible before he has stated all the clues. For his part, the reader tells himself that he will find the culprit before the author says so by name! It's a kind of intellectual game that happens between the two and I like it. Then there is the famous quest for identity that has challenged me for several years…
The identity quest of adolescents, specifically?
That is to say how the identity of a person is made, is created. How she manipulates herself, too, and comes undone. The identity we have is malleable over time. As we meet certain people, have certain conversations, have certain experiences, our identity changes. What can influence the identity within a sibling when one of the children is privileged to the point of abandoning the other child? These were the premises of my work, for the writing of these two novels which are now merged.
The person who kidnaps cats, in your story, uses codes and encrypted messages to give his clues. Is it hard to incorporate that into writing a story?
I find it a great challenge. It's funny. As a writer, I think it's good, sometimes, to go for something that takes us out of our comfort zone. I assume that if I learn something, the reader is also likely to learn something. We're both winners!
Why did you decide to set the plot in the 1980s?
I was tempted to talk about my hometown and take me back to my teenage years. The 1980s are those that saw my first attempts in a host of fields. I wanted to transpose that. When I first published the two novels, in the early 2000s, it was not common to talk about the 1980s. Today it is not; it's even fashionable.
Since cats are at the heart of your story, the question arises: are you a big lover of cats?
Yes. I have always had cats. I had one until last spring, but unfortunately it had to be euthanized, due to a health problem. And there, the big question, with my two children: are we going to get back into this adventure (laughs)?