When you see a book hailed as the ‘French Harry Potter’ it makes you sit up and listen – and so The Guardian newspaper named Anne Plichota and Cendrine Wolf’s Oksa Pollock books. After the books were rejected by several traditional publishers in France, Anne and Cendrine decided to self-publish the series. And before long, it had become a national phenomenon. A large fan base started to grow in France (now known as Pollockmania) and when two of Oksa Pollock’s loyal fans sent a letter to a French newspaper demanding that a French publisher take the authors on, things started to happen. Book rights have since been sold in 27 countries, with 700,000 copies sold worldwide, and film rights have recently been sold to the producer of the Twilight movies. AND Moontrug is lucky enough to have interviewed the authors as part of the blog tour for the gripping third instalment in their series: The Heart of Two Worlds.
The environment and global weather disasters feature a lot in the third book in the series, The Heart of Two Worlds. Is this a subject close to your hearts? Do you feel a responsibility as a writer to highlight issues in your fiction that affect us in our world?
Anne: It’s a subject that does more than trouble me: it terrifies me! I do what I can, like many of us, with the impression of being a drop of water in a vast ocean of irresponsibility and ignorance. So yes, as a writer it was normal and natural for me to deal with this subject. And we did it without even thinking about it, without a strategy. It was very spontaneous, like many other issues integrated into the plot. It was a way for us to show that the worst-case scenario is plausible and that we must fear it.
Book three is half-way through the series and the challenges for Oksa are getting more intense! Can you give us a hint to what we have in store in the next half of the series?
Oksa will be confronted with more serious things, such as illness and death. She will have to make choices and assume responsibility for the consequences. The destiny of the Runaways is no longer her only worry, it goes far beyond that: the future of the world is at stake and Oksa must unite all the forces available to her to avoid the worst. The second half of the series is much more centred on the global economy, politics, power struggles, and the balance of wealth and power. More intimately, Oksa, Gus, Tugdual and Zoé grow up and their attitudes evolve when faced with danger, with the sense of responsibility and, of course, with love…
We know you have a special love for the UK, as Oksa is set in England, and in book three Oksa and her family travel to Scotland. Could you tell us your favourite places to visit in Britain, especially those that have inspired your writing?
Anne: I honestly fell in love with Oxford at first sight! I like the slightly tormented mood of Cornwall that you also find on the Hebridean island where Orthon and his allies hide. The wind, the craggy coasts, the grey sea, the troubling light… It makes the imagination very fertile.
The Oksa Pollock series has been published around the world and there have been lots of different book covers – do you have a favourite?
We love them all, from the German to the Japanese, passing by the Russian and the Korean… But the British one is up there amongst our favourites!
Who does what in your writing partnership and do you ever argue over plot and characters?
Anne: We have our own personal – and magical! – recipe. But the principle is very simple: we give our best, we share our thoughts and we build the story, from the general plan to the most precise details, always respecting the other’s ideas. For each chapter, we talk a lot, we imagine as many details as possible, and I write first. Then, we add some layers like painters, each in turn, until we agree.
Of course, sometimes we don’t agree, so we need to convince our partner… And when both ideas are good, we decide by playing table football!
Who/what is your favourite character/creature in the series?
Anne: Pavel, Tugdual, the Lunatrixes, the Goranov… Rather tormented characters and creatures.
Cendrine: The Incompetent and Orthon (although they’re nothing like each other!)
What books are you reading at the moment?
Anne: A fictionalized biography of Sade’s wife and The Devil All the Time by Donald Ray Pollock (no relation to Oksa… at least, I don’t think so…), amazing stories with dark and raw characters.