How do you pronounce your last name?
Da – man. It rhymes with “woman”.
Do you write in english or in french ?
I write mostly in french, which is my native langage.
But for The Wolf’s Secret, things are a little bit more complicated : Nicolas and I wrote this story in french in 2014, we translated it in english so that Julia could read it, we sent it to our lovely agent at Pickled Ink and to a few publishers, then all the editorial process happened in english, and the story changed in the process, and then we translated the final version back in french for Gallimard.
Have your books been translated?
Yes. The Wolf’s Secret has been translated in French (by Nicolas and I), in Russian, Chinese and Lithuanian.
Some of my french books have been translated in italian, spanish, korean, … but not (yet?) in english.
Why is the title of The Wolf’s Secret different in the french edition ?
The original title is The Wolf’s Secret, but in the meantime another book was published in France with a title that was the direct translation called Le Secret du Loup. So we had to find something different and we came up with Le Talisman du Loup – The Wolf’s Talisman.
What’s the differences between UK and French children’s publishing ?
The two systems are extremely different ! I woud say that, for me, agents might be one of the main difference between the UK and France. In France, literary agents are very rare. Writers have to struggle against editors all the time to negotiate contracts and it can be a bit of a nightmare. In the UK, the possibility of having an agent is an absolute blessing. And as a result, what you can expect to earn is also quite different. In my experience, the difference between a French advance and a UK advance, for an average children’s writer, is around 1 to 5.
Do you ever write to music?
No, I find it too distracting – but I somethimes edit with music, especially instrumental music without lyrics or something soft and relaxing.
When is the next book coming out in the UK ?
Nicolas, Julia and I worked on a new book called « Leina and the Lord of the Toadstools« . It will be published in october 2022.
What is it about ?
It’s a lyrical, slightly dark fairy tale. There is a Toad, a young woman called Leina, an underground castle… and a curse to lift. It’s not a sequel to « The Wolf’s Secret » but it takes place in the same strange and magical universe.
And of course, I have a lot of other projects in various stages of development, but hey — a little mystery goes a long way.
What was your favourite childhood book?
The first book I remember loving was « White Fang » by Jack London. The writing was sharp and clear and focused, and I felt like I was beside the protagonists. I also remember vividly The Witches by Roald Dahl. Probably because it doesn’t have an entirely happy ending. I found that a bit disturbing, as a child, but also quite refreshing. I think this is why it stuck with me.
What’s your advice to young writers ?
Start writing. Finish things. Even if you don’t think it’s good enough, finish it. Send it to publisher and write something else while you’re waiting for someone to publish the first thing.