Sow new imaginations

Nantes (Loire-Atlantique)

From our regional correspondent

Lby force of fiction, it is to take people with gentleness ”, estimates Sandrine Roudaut, a slender look and a velvet voice. Lecturer and prospectivist, she has just published her first novel of ecological anticipation with Éditions La mer salée, co-founded with her husband in Trentemoult, a former fishing district on the banks of the Loire, near Nantes (Loire-Atlantique). His work, The Untied, is part of a new collection, “Fiction or not fiction”, aiming to build imaginaries “Non-fatalistic”, contrary to the traditional codes of science fiction.

Usually, in anticipation, the human being is the victim of his fate, subject to overwhelming authority or widespread surveillance, she describes. But other, less gloomy scenarios are possible. “ In her book, she invents brighter tomorrow, populated by characters who do not give up, especially women. “To bring about a more inclusive and frugal world in the positive sense of the term, we must first portray it, she judges. The world is changing thanks to utopias. And these utopias are born in our imaginations, which should not remain stuck in the present

Before The Untied, Sandrine Roudaut has published two essays, Utopia. Manual and The Suspended, describing how the course of history evolves in favor of active minorities. The big advances are due first to a handful of humans , she assures, citing the suffragists in front of the British Parliament, Rosa Parks who stands up against segregation or the demonstrators of the Church of Leipzig who precipitate the fall of the Berlin Wall. These people contested their time, questioned the dominant model and the authorities, she emphasizes. Change does not come from above. It’s even irresponsible to wait for our leaders to act

Before becoming interested in the roots of disobedience, Sandrine Roudaut led a very different existence. A business school graduate, she first worked as an advertiser in Paris. I created needs for people who didn’t need them, she sums up. But this universe taught me the strength of humor to convince, and the crucial importance of beauty, a source of joy. ” Beauty also runs through the pages of her novel, where she describes with subtlety the sunrises and starry nights of the Moroccan desert, echoing her own travels.

It is the decision to leave Paris and its “Glitter”, in 1997, which made Sandrine Roudaut and her companion, then a journalist specializing in the economy, take another direction. I couldn’t stand the pollution and the harshness of the city anymore, confides this mother of two daughters aged 16 and 19. Except that when we wanted to leave, we were offered both golden positions. If we accepted, we knew we would never leave. So we headed for Nantes, in general misunderstanding… ”

By becoming a mother, she takes a “Ecological slap , radically changes its way of consuming and specializes in supporting companies in sustainable development. When one of her clients offers her a position of responsibility, with a comfortable salary, she prefers to give it up. “We believe we are taking a risk by making this kind of decision, but the opposite is happening”, she says. Alongside her activity as a prospectivist, she sets up repair workshops, learns to do without Gafam (Google, Amazon, Facebook …) and takes on a “Joyful frugality”.

But his life choices do not prevent doubts. “During the 2012 presidential election, where ecology was despised by all, I wondered if I was going to continue fighting against windmills. To get out of the discouragement, she began to write her first essay, published in 2014. “Going into writing has been revealing. “ It will take her a few more years to step into the shoes of a novelist. I had a good student side and thought I had no imagination, she continues. But by carrying out an uchronie exercise (narrative of fictitious events from a historical starting point) for the Institute of Desirable Futures, I began to have lots of ideas… ”

The writing of Untied took him less than a year. I have the feeling that fiction liberates, that lots of possibilities open up… ” The Covid-19 pandemic arose during the last edits of the book. It would have been inconceivable not to mention it but I did not want to change everything so far ”, she explains. However, the novel came out faster than expected, to stick to the expectations of the moment. “While the news is quite terrifying, readers need this type of story to regain control., she thinks. If telling stories can make some people want to act, I tell myself that I have found my place… ”


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