Clémentine Beauvais was born in France but moved to Great Britain when she was 17, where she still lives today. She studied in Cambridge and received her doctorate in children’s literature. She is a children's book author and writes in both French and English. Clémentine Beauvais has won several literary awards and her books have been translated into more than fifteen languages. Her books include "The Royal Babysitters", "La pouilleuse" (2012; tr. The lousy girl), and "Les pétites reines" (2015; Eng. "Piglettes", 2017). She also works as a literary translator and as a university lecturer, researching and teaching English in education at the University of York since 2016.
How many ideas for potential works do you have in your head?
Seven before breakfast, all impossible. Around mid-morning, helped by healthy servings of coffee, the usual obsessions form an orderly line and, depending on whether it's holiday time and there's plenty of time to write, or work time and there's no time to write, they decide whether they want to go forth and multiply (work time) or disappear entirely (holiday time).
When working on a new project, how do you sift through competing ideas in order to move forward?
I organise monthly jousting tournaments, open to any neurons that aren't otherwise engaged with scrolling through Facebook/ Instagram, etc. All the ideas fight each other in gallant, yet forceful ways, trying to make the other ideas fall off their horses or whatever other animal or machine they picked for the jousting. And then some get killed on the spot, speared ruthlessly, and others are allowed to waddle off and come back when they're more ready. At the end of the jousting we hold a big banquet celebration where I solemnly declare that the winners will be rewarded soon by being written into a beautiful story. 99% of the time, it doesn't happen. The limping ones, in the long run, tend to have a better chance.
What writing habit do you have that you feel is impossible to shift? (That could be a particular snack, writing hours, location, caffeine consumption etc.)
Not-writing is a habit I have which is very difficult to shift. It tends to occur every day, at least 23 hours a day. It does require a lot of snacking. It can occur in any location, and under vast amounts of caffeine indeed, or none at all. Not-writing happens particularly often when I'm sitting in front of my computer, trying to write.
The international literature festival berlin (ilb) has become an essential part of the literary calendar of Berlin. What do you connect with the city?
I've been to Berlin many times and I love it. I generally love Germans because they read huge amounts, which is a sign of excellent health, and because they write a lot of top-notch literature, which is hardly any less worthy of praise. Museums in Berlin have things like actual Byzantine temples in them. In Prenzlauer Berg, people are effortlessly cool and green and make me feel inadequate but watching them is a nice kind of masochism. I don't speak a word of German, unfortunately, but I know that I'm an Autorin and I like being 'Clémentine Die Autorin'. It rhymes more naturally than 'Clementess the Authoress' or 'Clémentrice l'Autrice' which are the other options available to me. Berlin has world-class winters. It's very serious about having proper seasons. Other things to like are the ilb, though I haven't experienced it yet, but it sounds pretty good.