'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Tuesday 23 April 2019

12 Curly Questions with author Yohann Devezy

1. Tell us something hardly anyone knows about you.
I have what I call a ‘memory box’. I’ve kept it since I was 10 years old. It is a big shoe box that I fill with little bits and pieces such as photos, souvenirs and little trinkets that remind me of wonderful experiences and particular moments in my life. What would you find in it? A piece of my cousin’s wedding dress that ripped apart on the wedding day, a postcard of a first lover, a coaster from the first pub I went to, a plane ticket from my first international travel, my grandfather’s watch and many other memories that I’ve collected over most of my life.
2. What is your nickname?
Yoyo! I’ve been called that by my family ever since I was a kid. Now my husband calls me that to annoy me.

3. What is your greatest fear?
Loneliness. I am the kind of person that needs people around, particularly my partner, family and very close friends.

4. Describe your writing style in 10 words.
Labour-intensive translated French that is simple, clear and wondrous.

5. Tell us five positive words that describe you as a writer.
Positive, fun, inclusive, meaningful and imaginative.

6. What book character would you be, and why?
I would like to be Merlin, I always loved books and movies about magic, witchcraft, wizards, fairies, fantasy and mythical creatures. I found old legends and tales so much fun and interesting. Half of my family lives in Brittany in France. The culture is very Celtic and we have plenty of stories to tell. I would love nothing more than to be a druid or wizard and have insane powers!

7. If you could time travel, what year would you go to and why?
Even if my life is beautifully happy in the present and I would not change a thing, I am a very nostalgic person. I would love to go back to around 1993. Why? Because when I was a kid every single weekend our holidays would be spent at my grandparents with the entire family. Sharing long lunches surrounded by my uncles, aunties, grandparents and cousins was the best feeling for me. Remembering these moments, I realise just how happy I was. Living away from my family has been difficult, and I miss them all every day. But I am forever comforted by these beautiful memories.

8. What would your 10-year-old self say to you now?
Growing up and knowing that you’re different is hard to handle silently and alone. My 10-year-old self would have been right in the middle of that. I think he would be relieved to know that I am loved and accepted as who I am, fully. He would say he’s proud of, and probably a bit surprised by, my courage to challenge myself in all sorts of ways.

9. Who is your greatest influence?
There are many different people that have had a significant impact on my life. Mostly my family members and of course my husband. When I write a book, I often think of my nephew Hugo and I love the idea that the stories I tell will help him through his childhood and paint a picture of a better world I hope that he’ll step into, embrace and be fulfilled by.

10. What/who made you start writing?
I started writing because I felt that the stories I wanted to read as a child weren’t written yet. I know what it would have meant to me to be able to read a narrative that reflected who I was growing up. Stories of the acceptance of difference would have meant so much to me. That’s why I started to write, to fill what I think is a bit of a void in children’s literature. I want to bring comfort, open minds and educate in a beautiful and creative way.

11. What is your favourite word and why? 
'Madeleine de Proust'. I’m cheating here a bit, but let me explain why. Firstly, I love madeleine cakes. So yummy. Secondly, Madeleine is my grandmother’s name. The real and third reason is the meaning of the phrase. We call Proust's madeleine any phenomenon triggering an impression of reminiscence. It can be an element of everyday life, an object, a gesture, a song, a smell or a flavour for example, that does not fail to return a memory to someone's memory, as does a madeleine to that of the narrator of in search of time lost in Swann's Side, Marcel Proust's novel. One day Marcel Proust was plunged back into his childhood, just by the smell of madeleines. He had then a lot of memories coming back that he may have forgotten.

12. If you could only read one book for the rest of your life, what would it be?
I would say Harry Potter. I started it when I was around 12 years old and it accompanied me through to my 21st. I feel like I grew up with that story, so I want to take it with me for the rest of my life.

Yohann Devezy is a debut author who seeks to create beautiful books with a message of hope, strength and acceptance. He is driven by a desire to write stories that are to be shared across generations, stories that are underpinned by the embracing of inclusivity and diversity. He is passionate about LGBTIQ inclusion and broader social justice issues. Born in France, he lives in Perth, Australia where he is a chef and works as a teacher. Hugo is his first picture book.