Thursday, 26 February 2015

Blog tour: Oksa Pollock The Heart of Two Worlds by Anne Plichota and Cendrine Wolf (Children's, 11 years +, 10E/10E)

This is an extremely special tour for me. Firstly, it's about Oksa, who I casually said was Harry Potter and I'm now officially known for quoting that (fangirl squee!). Secondly, I have been given the privilege to be the blog which hosts both the first and last post of the tour! This has never, ever happened before, and I'm touched that I was asked to do this. I hope that through the course of the tour you will want to get to love Oksa as much as I do. She is a legend, lovely and imperfect, loses her temper, acts irrationally, follows her heart, and is all in all a wonderful heroine. 

Today's opening post includes a repost of my review of the hardback waaaay back in October and an awesome question and answer session with Anne and Cendrine! This Oksa fangirl is doing a lot of squeeing ^o^ To finish the tour on March 7th I'll have a question and answer session with a French fan who is fortunate enough to have read all the series, since the original French version has been out much longer than the English translation. Not that I'm jealous or anything. I can understand French so I may yet succumb to reading them ahead of the translation's release. For now I'm waiting semi-patiently!

My review
Just in case you forgot what the paperback cover looks like, here it is again!
9th October 2014, Pushkin Press, 400 pages, Hardback, Review copy
Content: some fighting, some humour, tragedy, tissues definitely needed
Summary from Pushkin Press
Oksa's heart-stopping adventures continue, as she journeys to her enchanted homeland.

Earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, torrential rain... The Earth is in turmoil. Fleeing a flooded London, Oksa and the rest of the Pollock family set off in search of the Entrance Portal of Edefia, their magical home. It is their only chance of restoring the Earth's balance. To get there, Oksa is forced to ally herself with the terrible Felons, mortal enemies who could betray her at any moment. Luckily she also has some real friends at her side: Pavel, her shapeshifting father; Gus and Tugdual, the two rivals for her heart; and, of course, her formidable grandmother Dragomira, along with her menagerie of Edefian creatures. But little does Oksa know, not only will she have to brave countless dangers to reach the portal, she must also pay a terrible price to enter the hidden world... And what will await her on the other side?

Nayu's thoughts
Oksa is my Harry Potter. She has some highly cool powers, but she needs them to save the world – no, save two worlds. She finally gets to go to Edefia in this 3rd book in the series, but how she gets there, and what happens when she gets there is horrifying. So much so that although I love the stories, and I'm desperate to read it, and I can read French so in theory can read the rest of the series (which are all out in France), I'm not going to. I can wait for the English translation to be published. It is a heavy emotional read for me. There are heart wrenching scenes which you'll need tissues for. I needed super cute and fluffy anime to counteract the harsh reality of Oksa's world. 
Most of it is hard going, but the Edefia creatures provide great entertainment in exaggerating events, stating the obvious that no one wants to say. Oksa struggles with her relationship with pretty much very teen, especially moody Gus. I don't blame her as they were pretty close in book 1, but now they seem so distant and unable to speak what they truly feel. Oksa also struggles with how everyone - including their enemies - treat her. She just wants to be normal, which is something she'll never be. 
Find out more on the dedicated website.

Suggested read
Naturally read the first two books Oksa Pollock: The Last Hope & The Forest of Souls (Children's, 11 years +, 10E/10E)

Question and Answer with Anne Plichota and Cendrine Wolf
Anna & Cendrine!
  1. What made you choose Oksa, a girl, to be the main protagonist, rather than using a boy?
Some people think that we wanted our story to be different to other fantasy series, where the heroes are usually boys. But to tell you the truth, we didn’t really think about it. We are women, who have been girls, so it was logical and natural for us to choose a girl to be the heroine of our books. Maybe it was easier for us to choose a female lead!

  1. Oksa undeniably goes through immense heartache, but the odd little creatures provide humour at the darkest of times - was this something you planned or did it just happen naturally?
First of all, we wanted some original creatures in our books because you can’t imagine a fantastic story without odd creatures. But I think they quickly took on a bigger role than we had planned. They are so charming, so touching and so funny that we couldn’t leave them out or give them a smaller part in the books. We agree with you. It’s essential to find a kind of lightness when the world is going mad or dark. It’s like a respite.

  1. I can’t remember the name of it but my favourite creation was the living being which could cocoon Oksa when she was at her lowest, making her feel safe an slowly encouraging her to want to live. What gave you the idea for this? I want one!
Yes, the wonderful placenta of Lunatrixes... The idea came very simply after we saw some pictures of babies inside the placenta, before the birth, and they all seemed so happy, so comfortable in their ‘bag of wellness’. These babies looked like they were smiling, with their half-shut eyes and happy faces. We thought it would be fantastic to return to this and find again this incredible feeling of floating and being protected.

  1. Which is your favourite magical creature? Are there any creatures which you thought up but didn’t make it into the book?
Anne : I really love all the creatures for different reasons. Their tenderness, their madness or their sense of humour, but my two favourites are the Lunatrix and the Goranov plant because they are both my alter ego! Like the Lunatrix, I enjoy using words and playing with them, and taking care of the stewardship. And like the Goranov plant, I get stressed about nearly everything. When I was younger, I used to collapse every time I was feeling too nervous. I am much stronger now!

Cendrine : My favourite is the Incompetent. Like him, my brain doesn’t work like everyone elses. It’s always shifting... There are many creatures in the Oksa Pollock series, but we imagined even more, which unfortunately we couldn’t include. But we keep them in a secret part of our memory, maybe you will discover them one day...

  1. Is there much difference between the names in the English translation and the original French version?
As we don’t speak fluent English, we can’t comment on the subtlety of the translations. We can just imagine how difficult it must be for translators, like Sue Rose, to translate invented words! You can take a look at day five of the blog tour where an Oksa Pollock translation resource pack will feature, giving an insight into the translation process, working with made up words.

  1. Where are your favourite places to write?
Anne : At home! I have a place for the morning’s writing - on a sofa with a lot of pillows, a teapot and some coffee near to me (and very often some chocolate or sweets, I’m very gourmand!). In the afternoon, I like to sit on a chair or an armchair, near the window, so that I can see outside (no, I don’t spy on my neighbours. I just enjoy looking at the trees and the sky while i’m working).

As soon as the weather is sweet or hot, I write on my balcony (it’s really my favourite place!). And whether I’m outside or indoors, I always listen to music while writing.

Cendrine: I like writing at my desk, near a window where I can see my garden. I don’t sit on my armchair in a very common way - my feet don‘t touch the floor, my legs are folded against me, my body is curled up. Nice and comfy!

Anne: She’s so strange...

Thank you very much, Nayu, it was a pleasure for us to answer your lovely questions!

You're most welcome Anne and Cendrine! Thank you for this Q and A. It has been such a pleasure to have my questions answered, and to kick of Oksa's tour. Be sure to check out the next stop on the tour tomorrow over at Read It Daddy!

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