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Caroline Smadja

French, USA

First Language(s): French
Second Language(s): English, Spanish, Hebrew


A French-born author of North African heritage, Caroline Smadja’s work has appeared in France, the US, Canada and South Africa. Her most recent pieces have appeared in online magazines such as Czech-based Meluzina and US-based Pure Slush. A graduate in Creative Writing from Pacific University, she teaches literature & works as an intercultural consultant. She lives between Paris and San Francisco.


What was your favorite book as a child?

It is near-impossible for me to pick one single book, as I was a voracious reader as a child. I loved reading and books, ranging from detective novels to adventure stories to fables and comics. As a young child, "Lassie Come-Home" was one of my favorites. Once I entered middle school, "Le Grand Meaulnes" by French writer Alain Fournier and Emily Bronte's "Wuthering Heights" both made a strong, long-lasting impression on me.

Do you remember the original reason or motivation why you started writing creatively?

From a very young age onward, stories as well as story-telling had a profound effect on me. Bedtime stories enthralled me, the stories themselves as much as the whole ritual of it. I was keenly aware of living a privileged moment whenever an adult read to my sister and me after dinner. When illness kept me bed-ridden, my mother used to read to me, and I derived great pleasure from that. Throughout childhood, I shared a room with my sister. We slept only inches apart and we used to talk and make up stories about imaginary characters once the lights were off. She invariably dozed off first, not before urging me to keep on spinning tales. After a while, I'd realize she'd fallen asleep to the sound of my voice. This scenario repeated itself over and over. Though somewhat dismayed at finding myself in a monologue, my continuing the story out loud on my own became a kind of tradition. Writing stories may have emerged as a natural continuation of all that. Due to my passion for literature & words, I knew I wanted to be a writer by the age of twelve.

What was the most adventurous or thrilling thing you ever did/experienced?

Again, it is difficult to single out only one thrilling/ adventurous experience out of a lifetime of travels, encounters, public speaking, readings, workshops, and more. My solo trip to Cuba in early 2004 stands out as one of the most adventurous trips I ever took. As for thrill, my teaching for the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at Berkeley since early 2018 has been an exhilarating experience: any time a student expresses enthusiasm for a story and/or a writer they'd never heard of before taking my class, any time I hear they're now reading other works by an author they didn't know existed only weeks earlier feels like the greatest reward of all.

Do you listen to music while reading or writing?

Except on rare occasions, I cannot listen to music while reading and/or writing. I need complete silence for optimal concentration.


Issue Spring '20

Supported by:

Land Steiermark: Kultur, Europa, Außenbeziehungen
U.S. Embassy Vienna
Stadt Graz