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Friend, hello! This site is under construction. I apologize for the inconvenience. Marie-Jo

marie-j0 fortis

 memoirs - mysteries - more
"[H]er prose remains engaging and humorous throughout." --KIRKUS REVIEWS


I have titled my memoirs-in-progress TUNNELS.  I went through many tunnels, as an abused child, as an epileptic, as someone judged by others and by myself, as someone loved when least expected. And I thought, so did you, so the title was a way to reach out to you. Life is filled with tunnels. These memoirs, written into brief episodes, I am writing for my daughter Maïa. You can give jewels as an inheritance, and I hope she will consider these an added gem, something precious where she can find her mother and, hopefully, define herself. This is not a fairy tale, though, but I have chosen to write this when the anger toward the ones who hurt me was gone. The place from where this is written is an attempt to understand. When I am done, I am not sure I will have gone beyond that attempt. But my other attempt is being like Camus's Sisyphus when he pushes his rock and when the rock returns to the same spot. "One must see Sisyphus as happy." I must reach that point of happiness, pushing my rock.


 "Red" tells the story of my first red dress.



R e d


I have two sisters. I replaced the dead one.

            « Among all your brothers and sisters, you were the only one who was not an accident,” Mom tells me. But to be the most wanted child is a big responsibility. When Nadia dies, a sixteenth month old baby, she can be nothing but perfect. So that’s what is expected of me. Perfection. And for the first years of my life I will be that---pig tails and short bangs and pink ribbons and obedience.

            I will try to know Nadia along the years. But she will be forever distant despite my attempts to reach out, a plump baby with dark hair, not fully smiling, a prisoner behind the polished glass of her sole framed picture kept in the cold air of the guest room. Not even her gold earrings, placed along her black and white image, manage to bring the warmth I desperately need from a sister. Claudie, the other one, the older one, always on Mom’s side; the one with quick steps and quick kisses, Claudie will always be nine years older.

            There will be visits to Nadia’s little white stone grave as well, sometimes with my friend Estelle, who loves cemeteries as long as she can see open graves and a few bones. I just want to say my sister’s name, wherever, whenever. Will I find a soul, her soul, if I say it? Nadia, such a beautiful name. Can it be my name? Could we join, could we talk somehow if I called her?

            I do not like my own name, so common in the Basque Country.  But I am called Marie-José for Mary and Joseph, for the protection of the Holy Couple.

            My life is devoted to the Virgin Mary, an added protection.

            I will only wear only blue and white, the colors of the Holy Mother, so that completes the protection.

            I can hardly move amidst so much protection.

            Except for these pale pink ribbons attached to my pigtails, my smile and my perfection, the world is basically colorless. Just white and blue, day in, day out, for a little girl who sees her friends wearing bright colors but is not allowed color. It has been framed, that perfect shot captured by that passing German photographer one summer, that image of the little girl kept on the living room buffet. On the other end of the buffet is my younger brother Dominique who paused for that same German photographer. His eyes are mischievous. I am not sure what color he is wearing that day. The photo, like mine, like any photo in the 60’s, is black and white. But he could get out of the picture. He is not part of the mausoleum.

            But some day, I will get out of the picture too. I will stop being erased with incessant blue and white. And that happens on September 14, 1963, when I am five and Mom hands me my birthday present with a big smile.

            Of course, Mom’s smile is also a present. She doesn’t have smiles that big very often.

            I open my present. And I hear a sound, a long, long sound of joy!

            And things are moving. It’s me, shrieking and twirling!

            Red. I see red.

            A red dress!

            Red, just for me.

            Red, to let me be.

            Red, to be perfect.

            Red, to be imperfect.

            Red, to --

            Let me put it on!

marie-jo's books

Native Cover_5337163_Kindle Front Cover.
Couverture de Chainsaw Jane.jpg


Meet a sassy woman with a set of problems and red curls.
There is a rat in her apartment she can't get rid of and  a married lover who won't leave her alone.
And her new boss, who just got murdered.
You mean, what next?


only uses chainsaws to massacre the trees in her backyard. Otherwise, she's a chain smoking, vodka drinking psychic working for the NYPD who may or may not be related to Stalin.


The body of a bookstore owner is found in Central Park, and in other places too. The NY cops need Chainsaw Jane, her Tarot and her bad temper to find out what butcher did this. And CJ cannot count solely one her communication with the dead this time. She will risk her life finding out and trying to save a cop gone mad. 




Hi! If you need to reach me you can email me at or you can fill out the little window on the right. Better than washing windows, right? Have a good day and p-l-e-a-s-e stay safe!


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