“Little Musso”, as the writer Guillaume Musso is still called in his hometown, Antibes, on the Côte d’Azur, after 20 years of literary fame which earned him a primary school in his name. His 21st novel, Someone Else, was published Tuesday, with strong ambition. Editions Calmann-Lévy printed 500,000 copies, compared to 400,000 for the previous book, Angélique, in September 2022. Suffice to say that this publisher, taken over by Vivendi with the entire Hachette Livre group in November, intends to make Guillaume Musso the king again of the novel in France. In 2023, having not published a new thriller, he was overtaken by three sisters and two colleagues in the sales charts. Which doesn’t worry him at all. He insists that his priority is his family, his two children, and not his sales figures, nor any hypothetical recognition from literary criticism. “My children, I see them growing up (…) I work less on weekends, I go on vacation with them, and I do homework with them,” says the 49-year-old former high school teacher.

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From 2011 to 2022, Guillaume Musso was number one in sales in France every year. His hometown, Antibes, is proud of it. In her presence, on Monday March 4, she inaugurated the elementary school located near the Juan-les-Pins station, now the Guillaume-Musso school. “That’s a source of great pride (…) People would say to me: “Are you going to Goncourt or the Guillaume-Musso school?” Clearly, I’m going to school,” assures the Antibois, whose family life has permanently settled in Paris.

The novel Someone Else is set in the city of Antibes, 76,000 inhabitants, where the middle class rubs shoulders with flashy wealth, and congested in the summer by the influx of tourists. Guillaume Musso returns there regularly to see his parents, who worked for the municipality for a long time. He is therefore very well known there. “Oh, little Musso! How are you?” This is how he is addressed, he imitates with the Riviera accent, which he no longer has. He gradually abandoned it “unconsciously”.

He had an ordinary youth as a middle-class child in Antibes, where, like many others, he seized the opportunity to work for the passing jet set. “This is where you live. But, in summer and at the time of the Cannes Film Festival, you see that it becomes a bit like the center of the world. I worked very early, I did the beaches: I got up at 4 or 5 a.m., to clean, to sift,” he remembers. “The parking lot where everyone wanted to work was the one near the Hôtel du Cap, where there was a beach restaurant. About twenty places and 100 guys who came. So to be able to park, they gave you the car keys and gave you 20 francs, 50 francs,” he remembers. These tips of 3 or 7.50 euros seem derisory, 30 years later.

In Someone Else, which narrates the investigation into the brutal murder of an Italian heiress, the stakes run into millions of euros. Just like those around each novel by Guillaume Musso, a man who literature has made a millionaire. Having observed the very rich from a very young age, he says he has never envied them. “It brings a lot of facilities. But we still juggle the children’s problems, the parents’ health… If we are dumped by the woman we love, it’s the same pain,” he emphasizes. “I have never met someone with a lot of money and said to myself: he must be happier than me.”