Monday, 7 December 2009

Festival du Livre de Jeunesse

I've been neglecting my blog a bit lately. I always told myself that I would post at least twice a week, but I'm struggling to reach even half that. Thanks to all those who follow my blog and who haven't got bored and wandered off yet. Please stay! I will try harder, but only once my novel is finished. More about that soon, but as I'm only a few thousand words off a first draft, my mind is very much elsewhere.

Talking of elsewhere, I visited Rouen's annual children's book festival this weekend – how could I not? – and felt briefly energised by the sight of so many books and bookish types. I say briefly because I met friends for dinner afterwards and lost my creative drive somewhere between the duck and the whisky trifle.

It would normally be a huge event for me, a children's book festival in my home town, but as I've mentioned before none of my picture books are published in France, and so I feel oddly detached around the French publishing industry. The first year I was in Rouen I did sit at a table at the festival, at the stand of the ABC Bookshop (Rouen's first source of books in English) but this only seemed to emphasise my sense of not belonging. There were piles of my Clovis books, and even a 'learn English!' worksheet I'd cobbled together in French to make the books more appealing. A few were sold, I signed some of those and drew for the children, but...

Six years later, I still have nothing published in France, but last year a Belgian publisher brought out my second Clovis book, The Biggest Splash as Le Grand Plouf! and that made me happy. My author copies vanished in a moment, though I still have a stack of De Grootste Plons through want of Flemish-speaking acquaintances.

In a previous post, I mentioned that I don't like reading in French. I also said that I'm tired of seeing all these vampires. Well, despite both these things remaining true, I'm now struggling through Les Vampires de Londres by Fabrice Colin, banging my head against the edge of my vocabulary but enjoying the book nonetheless.

Rouen is so beautiful at the moment, so ancient and Christmas light-charming. Expect photos shortly, but in the meantime, with 'beautiful' and 'charming' still in the air, here's a book promotion video to make any aspiring novelist dream:


  1. Phew! That video..I'm speechless...incredible!
    I love the translation, Le Grand Plouf, makes me think of Max. x

  2. Hmmm, at least you do not suffer from the same problems of isolation as those of us who live in remote places Downunder!

  3. I've seen this video three times now and each time I see something new in it! It's so ingeneously seemingly simple. Brilliant.

    Well done with the novel. I want a blog holiday - so much to sort out with mine...and that's just with the planning part!

  4. Yes, it's a superb little film, which must have taken an enormous amount if time if that really is paper. It's hard to tell at YouTube quality.

    Cat, I can't imagine living so far away as downunder, though when downunder isn't it everyone else who lives a long way off? Anyway, at least you don't have to watch dubbed TV. Subtitles for me please.

    Rachel, I think shutting down ones blog for Christmas is allowed. But as for new year's resolutions...

  5. How interesting to be surrounded by people who can't appreciate your work because of the language barrier. At least you're also an artist--pictures translate well.

    Where are your books published? I've assumed England, but I guess it could be from anywhere. Have you ever considered writing in French (even though you don't like reading it)?

    Also I want to hear more about the novel you're working on--it's MG right?

  6. Hi, Natalie. Thanks for commenting and for the questions.

    I'm British, and my books are published mostly in the UK, though some have come out elsewhere in the EU and also in the US. The strange thing is, although I have editions of some of my titles translated into everything from Greek and German to Welsh, it's taken a long time to see anything of mine in French, and even now there's nothing of mine in bookshops here. Mais vive les belgiques!

    My French is pretty rough for someone who has lived in France so long, and although I've written a little comic verse in French, I couldn't manage much more than a picture book text, and certainly not a novel. Also, it would be difficult to approach French publishers since I have no contacts or precedent amongst publishers in Paris. I do half-dream about writing and illustrating a graphic novel in French one day however, so who knows.

    As for my novel, I'll probably write a post about it soon. It's MG, pushing 'tween fiction', and It's caused me a great deal of trouble all year. I sent a version of it to my agent back in May and she returned it as being rushed and needing a huge amount of work. She was quite right. It's taken until now to re-cast the whole thing, but I'm quietly confident. Again.

  7. It must be fun living in France, though. And don't you have a great art museum near you, with some of the Impressionists?

    Don't worry about not blogging enough. Just look at my blog. There, now don't you feel better? I'm going to actually start blogging on it in mid-January.

  8. Ha ha, thanks, Terry:) I'm looking forward to finding out more about you and your writing.

    France is a nice place to be, though maybe not always a nice place to live if you aren't French. Other opinions are available, of course. And you're right, the Musée des Beaux Arts in Rouen has some of Monet's paintings, most notably several of his studies of the cathedral facade, which are very famous. His house at Giverny is only an hour or so away.

  9. I have a friend, who has a friend, who has a friend...does that sound like Mafia?

    But really, she says her friend, once removed, who is from France, cannot understand why Americans are so insulted when the French do not want to be friends with them. After all, she said, "We do not want to be friends with each other. That is why we build walls around our houses."

    Maybe she lives in the country. I don't know, but I thought it was funny. So, the moral of the story? Eh? Oui? Non?

  10. Thanks for answering all my questions! Now I know where you're coming from. :) I can't imagine writing in another language. I have a brother-in-law from Ecuador. He's lived in the U.S. for a long time and he speaks nearly perfect English, but he still has trouble writing in English. A picture book sounds more manageable.

  11. back when I was only engaged to the most beautiful French woman in the world -- and while we still lived in the UK -- two of my future-wife's French friends told me that I wouldn't have as a good a time being an Englishman living in France as they were having being French in England. I didn't understand what they meant at the time. I do now.

  12. Tag! You're It! Check out my post today to see what I mean.

  13. Talking about amazing unusual artistic stuff on youtube, may I invite you to check this out:

  14. Julie, that has to be one of the most extraordinary things I've ever seen! Stunning, baffling and moving all at once. Thank you.


  15. Just to encourage you to blog more often - because I really like your blog - I've given you an award which you can pick up over at my blog.

  16. Thank you, Keren! I'm off to investigate straight away.


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