Read an interview with Dunja Jogan, author and illustrator of Felix After the Rain!
Buy Felix After the Rain
We were lucky enough to get a quick interview with the wonderful Dunja Jogan, Slovenian illustrator and author of our new book Felix After the Rain! She worked with translator Olivia Hellewell to translate her story from Slovene into English. Here’s what she had to say about her beautiful new book.
For those who don’t know, can you tell us a bit about Felix After the Rain?
The idea for the book Felix After The Rain came about in February 2016. I don’t like this month so much, normally it’s too rainy and a little sad. Apart from the carnival party, not much happens here in Trieste. So I started to observe my thoughts and feelings – they were a little dark, like gathering clouds. Past and present were tied together, memories like in a suitcase of tangled emotions. So I thought of Felix, who on a winter’s day would start dragging his suitcase around. He didn’t even know exactly what was inside it, he was afraid to look at those feelings, but he perceived in his mind’s background some memories and repressed emotions. I thought that writing a Fairy Tale on this topic could be interesting. For some children it is easier to express their sensitivity and open their suitcase, for others not so much. For a child, and maybe even for an adult, one way to open the suitcase, and get rid of the burdens, is to share it with somebody who understands them, while another way is to play and have fun. So the person who really frees Felix is a child (it could also be his inner child) with his curiosity, innocence, playfulness. I really like playing with children, it makes me feel alive. So I wanted to tell them that they are very very important, and to suggest that they have to express their feelings without shame or insecurity. It may be nice to read this book with adults too.
Can you tell us a little about the process of illustrating the book?
From a technical point of view, the book came about without words, like a silent book. The text was written later, because I wanted to emphasize certain important concepts that would have been lost without the written words. For this, the author Maša Ogrizek, with whom I occasionally work, helped me.
The book shows a kind of symmetrical narrative structure: in the first part the sad vision of Felix’s life appears, in which he is too busy carrying the weight of the suitcase in order to notice the beauty of the world around him. In the second part, when he gets rid of it, he follows the same path he has done first, but this time appears completely different – joyful, filled with trust and love. The moment when the child opens the luggage is exactly in the middle.
How do you feel about the English translation of your book?
The translation is very accurate. It is a little drier than in Slovenian. I find it refers more tightly to the illustrations, for example at the end there is the phrase “Felix was so happy, he wanted to give everyone a hug. And everyone gently hugged Felix.” In the Slovenian version he says that “he wished to embrace the whole world and the world embraces him back.”
The interesting thing is that in the English version the cover of the book is different. The Slovenian book’s cover is sadder, with Felix carrying the luggage, and also the title is different – “Felix and his suitcase”. Now the message is positive from scratch and cheerful too. Before, we were afraid to reveal the whole story immediately, but seeing it now, I like it better.
How does it feel to know this story can be enjoyed by children all over the world?
I still can’t believe it, I’m really happy, excited and curious. This is my first book travelling beyond Italy and Slovenia.
Felix After the Rain is part of our Hope in a Scary World series. Why do you think books like this are important for children?
Not all children love intimate stories. For example, my eight year old nephew has always loved more humorous and adventurous stories. But I believe that these stories that talk about repressed emotions, can help children in certain moments to express themselves better and maybe even help their parents.
I also wanted to show how a compassionate, open and playful way of listening to feelings has a healing effect on us.
Do you have any advice for budding writers and illustrators out there?
As a book author, I am still a beginner but what I can recommend is to write something that you feel is really important, to dare and to insist, until the project gets realized. One should never give up fighting!
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