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Interview: Christelle Dabos, Winner of the Prix Albertine Jeunesse 2021

And the fourth Prix Albertine Jeunesse 2021 award goes to Christelle Dabos, for the second volume of the saga The Mirror Visitor Quarte, The Missing of Clairdelune Book Two (Europa, 2019, Gallimard Jeunesse, 2015, Tr. Hildegarde Serle) in 12-14 years old category. Read her interview to learn more about the fantasy world she has created.

The Mirror Visitor Quartet is a thrilling saga, with its fantastical world and cast of characters. What was your process of creating this universe? What are your major sources of inspiration?

In August 2007, Ophelia passed through my own mirror. She did not come alone: she brought with her her spirited family, cold fiancé, fractured world and a lot of misadventures! Nor did she come out of nowhere. My inspirations [include]: Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials, Alice in Wonderland, J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, the filmography of Hayao Miyazaki, Belgium (my homeland) and the history of France (my country of birth), as well as all my personal questioning about appearance and identity.

The four books in the Mirror Visitor Quartet have been translated and published in the U.S.: what is your collaboration like with Hildegarde Serle, who has translated the entire series?

I only met Hildegarde in London once the first books in the series were translated. The Mirror Visitor Quartet has been published in various countries, and several translators have asked me questions to make sure they understand what I mean, especially on puns and belgicisms. . Hildegarde does not work like this: she wanted to understand the text solely through the text itself. But with what great passion she told me about it afterwards!

What is the best writing advice you have received?

The advice I received from my partner when I learned that I was going to be published by Gallimard Jeunesse: Write for fun! My creativity comes from joy. It can be tempting to respond to the wishes of others, but what inspires me, and what makes sense to me, is the story that wants to be told through me. Joy, the joy, it’s always the joy!

When Ophelia is promoted to Vice-storyteller by Farouk, the ancestral Spirit of Pole, she finds herself unexpectedly thrust into the public spotlight. her gift—the ability to read the secret history of objects—is now known by all, and there can be no greater threat to the nefarious denizens of her icy adopted home than this.

Beneath the golden rafters of Pole's capitol, she discovers that the only person she may be able to trust is Thorn, her enigmatic and emotionally distant fiancé. As one influential courtier after another disappears, Ophelia again finds herself unintentionally implicated in an investigation that will lead her to see beyond Pole's many illusions to the heart of a formidable truth.

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Christelle Dabos was born on the Côte d’Azur in 1980 and grew up in a home filled with classical music and historical games. She now lives in Belgium. A Winter’s Promise, her debut novel, won the Gallimard Jeunesse-RTL-Télérama First Novel Competition in France, and was named a Best Book of the Year by critics and publications in the US, including Entertainment WeeklyBustlePublishers Weekly, and Chicago Review of BooksA Winter’s Promise was also named the #1 Sci-Fi/Fantasy title of the year by the editors of the Amazon Book Review.

© Chloé Vollmer-Lo