Interview: Debbie Ridpath Ohi, Writer & Illustrator

Photo: Beckett Gladney

Photo: Beckett Gladney

Debbie Ridpath Ohi writes and illustrates for young people. She is the illustrator of I’M BORED by Michael Ian Black (Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers, 2012), which was chosen by The New York Times for its list of Notable Children’s Books Of 2012. Debbie’s upcoming projects include books with Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers, HarperCollins Children’s Books and Random House Children’s.

Debbie is represented by Ginger Knowlton, Curtis Brown Ltd. and tweets about writing & illustrating books at @inkyelbows.

Debbie is currently working on her first picture book that she is writing AND illustrating, coming out from Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers in 2015. She has also just finished illustrating NAKED!, a new picture book written by Michael Ian Black, coming out from S&S in Summer 2014.

Let’s see how Debbie answers the Proust Questionnaire!

ImBoredFrontCover-400What is your idea of happiness?
Starting to read a new book and getting pulled in by the voice and characters right away. Then settling into reading with delicious anticipation, curled up in my favorite reading nook. For a broader answer, see my blog post, “When I Learned To Actively Pursue Happiness (Life-Changing Moment Series).”

Which talent would you most like to have?
Figuring out how to squeeze more hours out of a day to do the things I want to do.

On what occasion do you lie?
When declining invitations from people I don’t know very well to events in which I’m not all that interested.

What is your present state of mind?
Excited about upcoming projects. Somewhat angsty because I want to do them ALL AT ONCE AND RIGHT NOW but know it’s better to figure out a schedule that works.

What is your motto?
 Life is not a dress rehearsal. – Rose Tremain. I have it written on my office wall.

What character trait do you most value in your friends?
A positive life outlook.

Christina's World by Andrew Wyeth (1948)

Christina’s World by Andrew Wyeth (1948)

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
NAKED! I’ve been working on a book called NAKED! for the past five months, so have been using it a lot in email and in conversation. I wouldn’t be surprised if many of emails these days get filtered into people’s spam folders.

I recently tweeted about this, saying that I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve used the word “NAKED!” this year, and that it’s all Michael Ian Black’s fault. Michael tweeted back almost right away: “Mission accomplished.”

Your favorite painting?
Like my favorite song, this changes. One painting I’ve always liked since I was a young person: Christina’s World, by Andrew Wyeth. I love the feeling of open space and of yearning.

What is your favorite song? When do you first remember hearing it?
Hard question to answer, since this changes so often and it depends on my mood. My favorite songs tend to be story songs, like Jonathan Coulton’s “Skullcrusher Mountain” and Suzanne Vega’s “The Queen and the Soldier.”

What is your favorite journey?
Favorite literal journey: a canoe trip with my husband on the Nahanni River.

But my favorite personal journey, even though it was difficult sometimes, is my path to publication. I used to be a computer programmer/analyst for a bank and now I write and illustrate children’s books for a living. Life is crazy and wonderful. You can read about how (yet another) rejection turned into my first children’s book deal.

What do you need to achieve before you can die happy?

To start getting my novels for young people published.

So many people familiar with my I’M BORED story aren’t aware that I began as a writer (“Oh, I didn’t know you’re a writer, too!”). As delighted as I am with my children’s book illustration projects, I have not given up my lifelong dream of getting my novels published.

In retrospect, I’m glad that the first book that my agent sent out didn’t get published. By now I’ve written several, and I continue to improve my craft with each project.

I’m close now, I can feel it, and will persevere.

postit-comic

What is your favorite time of day?
First thing in the morning, when most of the world is still asleep.

With which literary hero or heroine would you most like to share a coffee?
Ray Bradbury. I’m a longtime Ray Bradbury fan — I have his autograph and also wrote a song about one of his short stories. You can see both here.

Who or what is your first love?
My husband, Jeff. He was the one to convince me to quit my programmer/analyst job so I could pursue my dreams. This year, we’ll have been married 22 years.

OHI0128-WritersOnVacation-500wWhat’s the last dream you remember?
This past weekend, I had a dream about a little crabby girl that was so vivid that I had to draw her as soon as I woke up. I think she may end up in a book.

What’s your madeleine?
Music I loved when I was much younger, especially songs that strongly evoke memories of a specific event or time in my life. Like “Haru Ga Kita“, a Japanese folk song that my mother used to sing to me when I was a child

 

Without thinking, in one word: what is life?
Now.

Interview: Jo Treggiari, YA Author

Jo pub bw2-1YA author Jo Treggiari was born in London, England, and raised in Canada. She spent many years in San Francisco and New York, where she trained as a boxer, wrote for a punk magazine, and owned her own gangster rap/indie rock record label. Somehow she found herself on Nova Scotia’s beautiful, inspiring south shore with her kids and two dogs. Her most recent book Ashes, Ashes, a post-apocalyptic adventure, was published by Scholastic Press in 2011.

An e-book novella, Love You Like Suicide, was published by Fierce Ink Press in 2012. Currently she’s working on a neo-gothic horror (Inkers) and a psychological thriller (Hindsight).

Follow Jo on her website.

Let’s see how Jo answers the Proust Questionnaire!

What is your idea of happiness?
Being with the people I love.

What is your favorite song? When do you first remember hearing it?
Cripple and the Starfish by Antony & The Johnsons. I heard it at a dear friend’s house.

LYLS cover smallWhich talent would you most like to have?
I’d like an extra shot of stoicism.

On what occasion do you lie?
To spare someone’s feelings (but only little white lies).

What is your present state of mind?
Happy but a little anxious about the future.

What is your motto?
Always be aware of all the beauty in the world.

What character trait do you most value in your friends?
Loyalty.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
Umm. And there’s an f-word I’m trying to use less.

Jean-Michel Basquiat, In Italian (1983)

Jean-Michel Basquiat, In Italian (1983)

Your favorite painting?
Basquiat’s “In Italian”.

What is your favorite journey?
The one from waking to dreaming.

What is your favorite time of day?
Night-time. Around 10 pm when the bats are out.

With which literary hero or heroine would you most like to share a coffee?
Jackson Brodie from the books by Kate Atkinson.

What do you need to achieve before you can die happy?
I try to live as if I might die tomorrow so I am already quite happy with my achievements although I’d like to visit New Zealand, canoe down the Amazon, and see my kids grown up.

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Who or what is your first love?
Books.

What’s the last dream you remember?
I dreamt that I was telling my mother that it was OK that my 6 year old daughter had climbed to the top of a colossal pine tree.

What’s your madeleine?
Woodsmoke and olive oil. Instantly transports me to my Italian grandmother’s kitchen in Roccasinibalda.

Without thinking, in one word: what is life?
Love.

Interview: Stephanie Kuehn, YA Author

SK_colorStephanie Kuehn holds degrees in linguistics and sport psychology, and is currently working toward a doctorate in clinical psychology. She lives in Northern California with her husband, their three children, and a joyful abundance of pets.

When she’s not writing, she’s running. Or reading. Or dreaming.

Her debut young adult novel, CHARM & STRANGE, will be published by St. Martin’s Press on 6.11.13. COMPLICIT will be published in 2014 (St. Martin’s Press).

Follow Stephanie on her website.

Let’s see how Stephanie answers the Proust Questionnaire!

What is your idea of happiness?
Making art with other people.

What is your favorite song? When do you first remember hearing it?
“Favela” by Antonio Carlos Jobim. I played bass in a longstanding jazz group back in the late nineties. I first heard (and played it) there.

Which talent would you most like to have?
Imperiousness.

On what occasion do you lie?
When I don’t feel safe.

What is your present state of mind?
Self doubting.

What is your motto?
Cynicism and righteousness are the enemies of peace.

What character trait do you most value in your friends?
Self-deprecating humor. I’d always rather laugh at myself before I laugh at others, and I like being with people who feel the same way.

CScoverWhich words or phrases do you most overuse?

just

that

abyss

I am losing my goddamn mind (or some variation of this).

Your favorite painting?
At a gallery in Fort Lauderdale, I once saw a giant oil painting of a gorilla holding a pug dog that was wearing a dress. I’ve never forgotten that, so there you go.

What is your favorite journey?
Putting my running shoes on and heading out the door.

What is your favorite time of day?
Late, late night or early, early morning.

With which literary hero or heroine would you most like to share a coffee?
Aloysius Pendergast.

What do you need to achieve before you can die happy?
Freedom.

Who or what is your first love?
A blue-merle collie dog named Remington Steele.

What’s the last dream you remember?
Renting an apartment by the beach in Connecticut. My husband and I thought it was perfect for some reason and we signed the lease, then realized we didn’t want to pack up and move.

What’s your madeleine?
Watching my children read the books that I read as a child. Trixie Belden. The Three Investigators. Terhune’s Sunnybank books. The Black Stallion series.

Without thinking, in one word: what is life?
Finite.