We ask authors and illustrators to share about a turning point, a “lightbulb” moment, or a big (or just plain lucky) break in their career that helped them get to where they are today. Today Alain Serge Dzotap, author of The Gift, shares advice for aspiring authors of all ages.

You should know that the first pieces I ever wrote were all poetry. Many years later, I started writing children’s stories.

The Gift, was the first original story I’ve written that a publisher has agreed to publish.

At the time I wrote it, I was reading a lot of French surrealist poets, and I was very impressed by their way of playing with the imagination. It is probably from these readings that the idea of ​​writing this story was born. I then wondered what could be in a pen… apart from ink, of course! Because, for me, it was inconceivable that a pen only contained ink!

Illustration by Delphine Renon from The Gift

Then I began to share my reflections with those around me. Intrigued, everyone answered me, invariably, that a pen contained ink and nothing else.

But, I thought that a pen could contain a smile, a chair, a caress, a kiss, a giraffe, a hen, the moon, the sun, a mountain, sweets, the whole world : it was enough simply to imagine and then write or draw it!

I proved it by writing The Gift.

When I meet children in schools or libraries, in Cameroon and abroad, I like to play the magic pen game with them to show them the extent of the power of their imagination.

And the kids love it !

Do you want to learn more about Alain Serge Dzotap? Click here to check out our interview with this outstanding author.


Written by Alain Serge Dzotap
Illustrated by Delphine Renon

When Leo opens his birthday presents, he receives an amazing gift: a pen! Inside it, Papa says, are many beautiful things.  But how do you get them out? None of his friends can guess. Super-Zombo doesn’t get anywhere by blowing on it, and Coco-Tembo thinks it’s too tiny to hold anything important. Maybe Leo’s mama will know how to reveal all the wonders inside… 

This warm, charming story is a perfect introduction to the joy of writing. Like Leo, young readers will discover how a simple utensil can express all the words in the world—even one’s own name.