Interview of Jean Pierre Banville by Kairn.com
1 – How did you start climbing.
In all the events of my life, a sexual component has driven my actions! Yes, sexual and this includes the case of climbing, where a woman introduced me to this sport.
When I was young and handsome – I happened to be considered handsome, especially on ski slopes – I met my friend Louise. In the spring, we had the good idea to have a long weekend in a hostel, North of Montreal. Louise would get up very late. I could make you think my performance in bed was for something, but no. She would fall asleep everywhere, at all times. I even suspected her of having fallen asleep while spending all my energies in caresses!
As she was sleeping one morning, I was bored and I went to the Inn's restaurant we stayed at. Two guys were having lunch and were talking about climbing and insurance. I asked them a few questions and the next thing I remember is them inviting me to climb. I went with them, they showed me and I got hooked.
On my way back, Louise was still asleep, and I took the opportunity to go back to bed.
I started to climb on ice, where I had an advantage. I also traveled a lot, where people could laugh at me on some cliffs. One day, an Italian climber told me that the ones who secure climbing routes has a lot of sex appeal, so I started to equip climbing routes restlessly.
3 – Why do you feel you have to write on climbing and surfing?
Remember that I also write about skiing. Let's not forget skiing. I still ski between four and five times a week, using vintage equipment that sparks fear among patrollers on duty.
I have always had the pen easy and my secret desire has always been to make a living out of writing. But I live in an environment where it is impossible to break through if you are not in the small core of the industry already.
I wrote my first novel, in the first year of high school. It was a spy story with a plane crashing and everything. I was writing all the time! The priests summoned my parents to school and they were told that I was different. My issue was that I would write and read continuously, and that I would not socialize. My parents were advised to seek psychological help and they suffered a lot. I quit writing and I suffered as well, as you can imagine!
2 – You had some positions in local climbing institutions in Canada. What kinds of feelings do you keep in mind?
Basically, I am an alpine skier. I was born in a poor family, and I worked in the cafeteria of my junior high school to purchase my first equipment. I was 16 years old. All my little comrades - rich - were laughing at me saying I would never get out there. In my first years, I became a patroller, then a ski monitor and finally a ski school director.
Then, I started climbing and I became much less handsome. I have had a lumberjack body shape and I had a surprising brute force. But when I compared myself to the skinny local climbers – who would only eat Pizza slices and smoke pot – it was clear that I sucked at climbing. Well, I was not so bad, but clearly, I would never become Chouinard or Robbins.
I started writing again when I started climbing, because I feel there is some mystic about climbing. My writings were only addressed to me and then I showed those to my successive 'blondes' [Girlfriends]. It is a lot of readers, you are going to tell me! But it is still in the domain of confidentiality.
Then, thanks to the internet, I published a little story. Meanwhile, I also had the local chronicle in Grimper [Climb magazine].
Grimper and his editors were nice: they accepted to publish a crazy story, then one after another. It was Paradise! People were reading my delusions, and they seemed to enjoy them.Eventually, Grimper dropped me - they had the right to do so- and Kairn.com appeared.
4 – What is your biggest regret?
I regret not to have come to know everything and to see everything. When I was young, I wanted to become a universal humanist. But the more we know, the more we realize that everything remains to be known. I know a lot, but I would like to know a little more.
My eventual death does not frighten me. Yet to lose all this knowledge - perhaps useless - that I keep in my memory seems to me a loss and an acknowledgment of failure regarding those who will come after me.
I would have liked to equip a virgin summit in the mountains: no money and no time!
I would have liked, once again, to open a climbing route and deliver to the world hundreds of tracks of all levels. Possible but unlikely.
I would have liked to climb as much as possible, everywhere.
I would have liked to write more of these burlesque stories that I enjoy so much, but who will publish them?
Moreover, climbers and surfers read little. I still have some illusions about the skiers. I need a publisher as soon as possible!
One day, Ibex-Books contacted me, suggesting that I publish some of my best stories. So I wrote a book, and another, and yet another: humor, burlesque, crimes and a little sex! Ibex does not publish anymore and, at the moment, I would like to get hold of another publisher wishing to put under cover the oddities that I write.
Meanwhile, I do interviews for U.S. surf site: the Surfblurb. I also have a blog that I update almost daily.
Sure, I will never be awarded the Nobel Prize for literature! But my writing is structured, very fast, and often hilarious.
People who do not know me and meet me cannot imagine that the one who writes these extravagances is the old misanthropist in front of them!
The most difficult is to do the research for historical stories. I like the accuracy. The easiest are erotic stories. I could write those two per night!
5 – What book do you always have with you ?
I read about 200 books a year, if not more.I buy books brand new, but this happens less and less considering my pitiful annual salary. There are two Kindle in the house and I do not deprive myself to discover pearls that never appear on the shelves of local booksellers.
I still have a Kindle not so far away with '' The Essays '' of Montaigne and the complete works of Voltaire. It is impossible not to leaf through these two authors.
I also buy used books in large numbers. Then there's the municipal library.
I read crime novels and write burlesque crime novels. Often, you can find one or two books of sociology or history in my bag. I would have a classic libertine novel too.
Some sent surf books to me – and I thank my correspondents.