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Author Evelyne Holingue

I met Evelyne when we both participated in a Panel Discussion at the Author Extravaganza in Jacksonville, Florida. Her delightful French accent inspired me to learn more of her story.

Tell me about your background. Where you grew up, where you live now, education, work experience? Share some interesting things about yourself that we should know about.

I was born and brought up in Normandy, France. As a grad student I moved to Paris where I worked in the publishing industry before following my husband to California.
As anyone can imagine this decision had a huge immediate impact on my professional life. First, I had to learn how to speak English. Someone once told me that fluency requires twenty years. It seems exaggerated, but it certainly requires lots of practice to learn how to speak, to read, and to write in a foreign language acquired in adulthood. I owe a lot to my born-American kids who took the role of teachers. As challenging and frustrating as it was sometimes, I think it helped me develop resilience and humility.

What inspired you to write these books? What is the story behind the story?

Trapped in Paris is a young adult contemporary thriller set in Paris and the Parisian suburbs. The story is inspired by the true eruption of a volcano in Iceland in April 2010, a day after one of my children had returned from France. This eruption shut down all air traffic and for days people were trapped in European airports.

Chronicles From Château Moines is a middle grade historical novel set in the early 1970s in Normandy. My love for music and history are behind this story, that braids American and French cultures via the alternating narratives of 12-year-old classmates Scott and Sylvie.

What has been your biggest challenge or obstacle?

English remains a second language, so I am always a little guarded when I start. I need to remind myself to let go and write. Corrections and revisions will arrive soon enough. 

What has been your biggest “aha” moment or success?

My very first published story in Spider Magazine remains a very special memory. As a kid I had seen my name printed in a local newspaper when a poem I wrote had been selected. But to see it again here, in the USA, as an immigrant, was a proud moment.

What authors do you like to read? What books have had a strong influence on you or your writing?

My favorites from my schooling in France are Zola, Maupassant and Camus. Now, I mostly read American children’s literature, from Picture Books to Young Adult. There are too many authors I love and admire to name all of them. My most favorite Young Adult author today remains A.S. King who also wrote recently a terrific middle grade book under her full name Amy King.
For Picture Books I love Oliver Jeffers, particularly his latest: Here We Are: Notes for Living on Planet Earth.
Do you write every single day? Any writing rituals?

I pretty much write every day, but not necessary fiction. I blog in French and English once a week, for fun and discipline too. I write better in the morning than at night. After dinner I read, go through my critique partners’ chapters, and write down ideas or a tomorrow-to-do list, often too ambitious 

What are your interests outside of writing?

Since reading is my #1 favorite activity, I love libraries and bookshops. Then, I love the outdoors, so I walk every morning, almost always with my husband before work. I also practice yoga on a very regular basis too. And I enjoy taking care of our backyard and the front too I love nurseries almost as much as bookstores.

Share some tips for other Authors or Aspiring Authors: What would you do differently? What would you do the same?

I have not been able to stay away from writing, even when I tried in moments of discouragement. Nobody forced me to write. Nobody told me it was easy.
There is a huge difference between writing and the publishing business.
In the first place, though, there is a story to tell, so while I write this story I think it’s best to forget about the business part. It will come soon enough.
Also, the first draft is not the final result, but it is necessary, so I think it’s important to respect a first draft, to let it simmer for a few weeks before returning to it and starting a new draft.