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Beyond The Bio: Christelle Dabos

Whether you’re celebrating Easter, Passover, or 4/20, we here at PickMyYA are so glad you decided to spend part of your holiday weekend with us. We’ve got another awesome #BeyondTheBio planned for today, featuring an interview all the way from the other side of the world.

Our first special guest today is teen interviewer Jay C. They’re a high school freshman who loves K-Pop and is trying to learn Korean and Japanese. They’re also an aspiring young writer whose all-time favorite book series is Harry Potter.

And today’s guest author comes to us all the way from Belgium. Christell Dabos is originally from France and is the award-winning author of La Passe-miroir, which has recently been translated into English as The Winter’s Promise.

Alright, let’s get to the interview!


Jay: I just finished reading A Winter's Promise and it was amazing. The amount of detail and the wording really made your story alive. What inspired you to write this book?

Christelle: On the background and on the form, two authors particularly marked me: Philip Pullman with his trilogy His Dark Materials and Hayao Miyazaki with his animated films - in particular, Spirited Away and Howl's Moving Castle. But more generally, my imagination feeds on everything. What I read, what I see, what I hear, what I am living or have lived. I love history too, our past is an inexhaustible source of inspiration! All of this mixes up when I write a scene. The small details come to me, and then they spring like popcorn!

Jay: Ophelia was a bit naive, and she reminded me of me that way. In which characters do you see yourself?

Christelle: Ophélie (Ophelia in the English version) is a character that I’m very similar to. In fact, I'm often told that we are both alike--she and I. We are both myopic and clumsy. However, I see it more as an "inverted reflection" of myself. Ophelia is small and fragile outside but strong inside. Me, it's a little the opposite! But we both evolved together, our relationship is very strong.

Jay: Ophelia had to make great sacrifices to help others. Do you feel uncomfortable putting your characters through such harsh treatment in your book?

Christelle: My companion once told me: "You break your characters but you do not destroy them." I have a lot of tenderness for my characters, but suffering is necessary for them as for me. Suffering takes us out of our comfort zone, calls into question all our beliefs and all our illusions. It is suffering that reveals what Ophelia really is.

Jay: Thorn manages to be both cold and caring. How did you maintain that balance?

Christelle: Thorn gave me a very bad headache! He is very independent in the story, and he is also very independent with me. I have not always understood him well, but I know his deep motivations. Most importantly, I know what he misses, what he believes he wants, and what he really wants. So even though his character can appear often contradictory in appearance, he remains coherent underneath.

Jay: I am a young author myself. What advice do you have for me?

Christelle: Write! I often discuss with young authors who want to write but stop after a few pages because the result is disappointing. It does not matter if your writing is flawed, if you make mistakes, if you produce clichés. On the contrary, it's an excellent learning opportunity. I have written many, many stories before "The Mirror Visitor." Even with this novel, I rewrote it several times. Even today, I continue to learn...and I’m glad for it! I still have writer’s block sometimes. The only cure: go forward, one word after another. And above all, especially: enjoy yourself.


That’s it for today’s interview with Jay and Christelle. We’ll be back next week for another awesome interview. And if your a teen reader who wants to submit questions for your favorite author, we’d love to help. Click here to find out how.

The above interview was translated from French.


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