“All of my writing talks about some kind of journey” | Sandrine Kao

“All of my writing talks about some kind of journey” | Sandrine Kao

Sandrine Kao is an award-winning French writer, part of our Aarhus 39 selection of the best emerging writers from across Europe. Sandrine will be appearing at the inaugural International Children’s Literature Hay Festival Aarhus 2017 this week. Here she talks about her new story for Odyssey, our new anthology of  stories for children, inspired by journeys. 

Tell us about your story…
The imposed theme “journey” was both inspiring and not easy, because on one hand almost all of my writing talks about some kind of journey, and on the other hand, the theme is so wide that it was difficult to choose how to consider it. So I chose to write about subjects that matter to me: double culture, migration.

I chose to write about the moment of the journey when you come to a new country. It is a moment of discovery, of meeting new people, it can be very exciting but also tiring. The main character has just arrived for the first time in her country of origin, and it gives her lots of memories. All her senses are alert, especially hearing, as she recognises the sound of a traditional instrument her father used to play.

When did you decide to become an author?
Since I was a child, I’ve always liked reading books and writing stories. I’ve written since secondary school. But I knew that being an author might be difficult, so I choose to work around books, saying to myself that I will see later, when I will be older…

It all began when I discovered children literature: I fell in love with albums, those beautiful books with full-paged illustrations. I wanted to illustrate my own stories. So, I learned drawing, went to an art school and began trying to write and draw children’s books there.
My first book was my degree project, an album with text and illustration which tell the story of two young boys’ journey who wanted to migrate to better countries. It was published in 2008.

Do you have a favourite spot where you write?
Yes, lying on my bed with a laptop, but don’t tell anyone! In my bed, I relax and concentrate at the same time. Besides that, I have another job and sometimes I have to write at night.

How do you get inspired?
By memories from my childhood, my family, by visiting exhibition, reading books, seeing movies, taking a walk, travelling.