When did you first know you wanted to write books?
I started writing children books around 1998, I guess. But at the beginning of my career I wanted to be a cartoonist and make just comics. The first time they asked me to make some projects for children I just said: “Who, me? No thanks. It’s not my stuff.”
Why do you write?
I think I need to tell stories. I always have stories in my mind, for books or comics, or movies. They come to me like some “toy” I play with for a couple of days, which I really enjoy. Then I start to make a project about it. I really don’t know why. I found this a great way to tell people what I think.
You’re one of my literary idols. Who are your literary idols?
Really? It feels strange for me to be someone’s literary idol! – Thanks! I’ve got plenty of idols. In the past I loved the writing by Michail Bulgakov, Franz Kafka, Italo Calvino, Charles Bukowski, Mark Twain. When I was very young I read everything about Isaac Asimov, I also used to read Stephen King and Edgar Allan Poe.
Now I like other authors: Alan Bennet, Amélie Nothomb. I also like Bill Bryson’s books about travelling.
About comics: I grew up with the American comic strips: Beetle Bailey by Mort Walzer, Wizard of Id by Johnny Hart, Peanuts by Charles M. Schulz. Later I grew to appreciate many French authors, like Lewis Trondheim, Johann Sfar, Christophe Blain. I also love Igort (Italy) and Will Eisner (USA).
Some of my most favorite authors for children are Tomi Ungerer and Saki. And Roald Dahl too.
What’s the most joyful thing about writing books for children?
As I explained recently in an another interview, for me, I don’t know if there’s something special just in writing children books. I like writing, and doing it as a job gives me liberty to express myself as I wish. This is the main gift writing gives to me. I could never do another job and just keep writing as a collateral activity.
Writing for children also gives me the possibility to be travel, see new places and meet new people.
Which children’s book character is most like you and why?
Do you mean, in my children books? I think I’m the elephant in Bernard et Moi (because he actually does the same things as me) and the dog in Leopold, chien de divan (because I always lose myself in the big central shops).
Two other books in which I’m deeply involved in are my greatest success Moi, J'attends (I Can't Wait), because when I wrote it I was reflecting about death and sense of life, and one of the ones that followed this, Les Jours Hibou . . . well this you will understand why after reading it.
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|image from Les Jours Hibou by Vincent Math|