Friday, January 30, 2015

Author/ Illustrator Interview with Ashley Spires



The DMS was lucky enough to interview Ashley Spires. Fairday reviewed her children's book The Most Magnificent Thing, and it was great to share our thoughts about it and hear yours! We're excited to learn a little more about her story. So, without further ado... take it away, Ashley!



What inspired you to write The Most Magnificent Thing? 

My own experience! I get frustrated all the time with every book I make. I always want it to be perfect and be better than the last. I can be very hard on myself. Then I draw with kids and I see that they experience the same feelings when they create. So I wanted to make a book that reminds them (and me!) to be patient with yourself and know that what you might think is not good, to someone else, is perfect!

You often write and illustrate your own books.  Sometimes you illustrate books others have written. How is the process different, and does it take a lot longer to finish a book when you are the author and illustrator?

It does take longer! Mostly because coming up with an idea for a story can happen in a night or it can take years. When I'm writing the story we have months of editing before I get to the illustration stage. When I'm illustrating for another author they've done all that work already and I just get to float in and draw stuff.


What are some of your favorite books from childhood? Were there any specific authors/ artists who have inspired you?

ROALD DAHL! I love him and everything he has ever written. I reread his work all the time (I'm currently reading The Wonderful Story of HenrySugar and Six More) because his grasp of humour and the absurd is unparalleled. Revolting Rhymes is probably the reason I make books today. So raunchy and outrageous! My ten year old mind exploded when I read that.

If you could live anyplace real or fictional, where would it be? Why?

I'm so boring, I would actually chose to live right where I am! I lived in a few places across Canada before I realized that I'm a total homebody- especially since my body's home is in a little seaside town on the West Coast. Ocean, trails, wildlife and quiet within a half an hour's drive to the city. Perfect.

If you could befriend a character from one of your books, who would you befriend? Why?

I'm sure it's no shock that I'd choose Larf! I mean, a Sasquatch? Who wouldn't want a giant well dressed Bigfoot as a pal?!? Plus, he'd probably do my laundry.

Where do you like to draw? Do you listen to music while you are working?

I work in my studio on the second floor of my house. It has its own bathroom so it feels like my own little suite. I shouldn't admit this but I watch TV when I work. Not when I'm writing, I need silence for that, but when I'm working on final art, I devour whole series of TV. This Fall I watched The Good Wife from pilot to current episode in three weeks. I'm oddly proud of that.

Your illustrations are captivating and unique.  Can you give us some insight into how you create your illustrations?

That's so nice of you to say! It's nice to hear since my inner Girl (from the book) is always yelling, "Make it better!"
I try to create and get to know my characters in my sketchbook first so I can get a good feel for them. I love my sketchbook because I can be free in there without fear of failure- no one else has to see it. That thought is so freeing that it tends to be my best work! 

There is so much great illustration out there that I'm constantly inspired and bits of that inspiration creeps into my work. But when it comes down to drawing something for a book I tend to stick with whatever makes me laugh (and thankfully my editors usually agree!)


Are you currently working on a book? If so, can you tell us a little bit about it?

I don't know how this happened, but right now I'm actually working on three books. It's a bit hectic. It will either kill me or make me stronger so cross your fingers for me!

The first book is one I'm illustrating for Orca Books and it's written by Alison Hughes. It's about a girl who is building a dog. 
The second book is a sort of sequel to Edie's Ensembles. It's focused on Edie's friend Andrew who takes on too much and becomes over scheduled (thus the title, Over Scheduled Andrew.) Yes, that is totally autobiographical.

And the final one is a spin off of my Binky The Space Cat series of graphic novels. It's about the head of all the Space Pets, Sergeant Fluffy Vandermere. He is single handedly going to stop an attack on Space Pet headquarters. It's like Die Hard if John McClane had been a slightly delusional Persian cat. 



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72 comments:

  1. Anyone that can liken a character to John McClane from Die Hard is extremely cool in my books... I like her already... ♡

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    1. Launna- Isn't Ashley awesome? :) ~L

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  2. Awesome illustrations – and if you can get Bigfoot to do your laundry, I'd like one as well :)

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    1. Sherrie- I love Ashley's style too! :) ~L

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  3. The control of the illustrations sounds like it makes the book even more connected

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  4. I do love her book The Most Magnificent Thing. Thanks for an interesting interview.

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    1. Rosi- Glad you liked the interview and The Most Magnificent Thing is one of my favorite books. :) ~L

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  5. As someone who is frequently beaten up on by one (or more) of my inner selves I NEED to read this. And have a deep and abided passion for Roald Dahl's work as well.
    Thank you for this introduction - and fascinating interview.

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    1. Elephant's Child- You definitely need to read this and it will inspire you! Glad you liked the interview and the introduction to Ashley's work. :) ~L

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  6. Great interview! I can barely even draw stick figures, so I'm always fascinated by illustrators. And Sergeant Fluffy Vandermere sounds like the best character ever!

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    1. Jocelyn- Thanks! I struggle with drawing too- and love Ashley's style. She does have some fabulous characters! :) ~L

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  7. Wonderful interview, ladies! And wonderful premise for a book. I'd love for my grandboys to read this when they're older. They're already perfectionists.

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    1. Thanks, Cate! The Most Magnificent Thing will be a hit with your grandboys. All the kids at my school loved the book and we can't keep it on the library shelves because it is always checked out! :) ~Stephanie

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  8. Great interview! It's nice to meet Ashley. I love the premise of this book; it's a wonderful idea. Thank you both for sharing this. :)

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    1. Karen- So happy you enjoyed the interview. This is a book you don't want to miss! :) ~Stephanie and Jess

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  9. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this book. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE it! Fantastic interview. As always! Ashley, I am a fan of yours. The Most Magnificent Thing is a most magnificent story.

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    1. Robyn- So awesome to hear that you love The Most Magnificent Thing too! It is one of the best books I have ever read! Thanks for stopping in. :) ~Stephanie

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  10. I think that to keep trying is a good lesson for kids to learn. Also maybe that it doesn't have to be perfect. (For kids like I was) Her illustrations have such a unique personality!

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    1. Molly- The illustrations go with the story perfectly! The Most Magnificent Thing is perfect for perfectionists. :) ~L

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  11. I love books like this...such cool illustrations!

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  12. I have so much respect for PB writers and especially those who illustrate too. Ashley's illustrations are wonderful! She should be so proud. Have a great weekend! :)

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    1. Lexa- I am impressed with PB writers and illustrators too! Ashley has done an amazing job in both areas. :) ~L

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  13. I can understand how illustrating other books would make the process longer as well! And it's hard not to be a perfectionist - in some cases I am too, and it's good to have a childrens book which focuses around patience and how beneficial it is.

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    1. Olivia- Savannah- I can't even imagine illustrating my own picture book! Ashley is an inspiration and her characters are too! :) ~L

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  14. Great meeting you. I'm jealous you have a total suite :)

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  15. Three books at once? Wow! I love her illustrations and I'm in complete admiration of anyone who can draw AND write. I know Meg Cabot has started illustrating her own books. I only have writing talent.

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    1. Stephanie- I am in awe of those who can write and draw. Ashley is such an inspiration! You are an awesome writer, and luckily you have had fabulous illustrators work on your books. :) ~L

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  16. I'd love to know a Sasquatch who would do my laundry, too! Fun interview!!

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    1. Meradeth- Wouldn't that be cool? So glad you enjoyed the interview! :) ~L

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  17. I think it's awesome that you can illustrate your own books. I wish I had that talent!

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    1. Sherry- I love Ashley's style. :) ~L

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  18. Wonderful post and fantastic interview..excellent! I love the sasquatch.so cute!

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    1. Victoria- So glad you enjoyed the interview and Sasquatch. :) ~L

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  19. Great interview. I would think it would be easier to illustrate your own work since you already know what you want :)

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    1. Julie- Thanks! Great point about illustrating your own work. I think having a vision would certainly help. :) ~L

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  20. Enjoyed the interview. Love your illustrations, wish I could draw good enough to illustrate my PBs.

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    1. Janet- I agree with you that illustrating your own PBs would be awesome! :) ~L

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  21. Wonderful interview and I love the illustrations. The Most Magnificent Thing looks like a great read.

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    1. Thanks, Medeia- The Most Magnificent Thing is a book that everyone should read! :) ~L

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  22. I absolutely love Ashley Spires' illustrations! Her drawing of her is so cute!
    I have no patience so The Most Magnificent Thing might teach me a thing or two too.
    I feel like Roald Dahl is so much darker than I ever expected especially for a children's book author. He's very good at representing the harder parts of life and the heroes seem to always save the day/live happily ever after from what I've read.
    That's surprising that Spires watched tv and does art. That some great talent of focus right there. I am always proud when I binge watch a show in less than a week.
    Lots of projects/books happening for the author. Good luck! I'm sure it will make you stronger.

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    1. Adriana- Thanks for your thoughtful comment! I adore Ashley's illustrations! You will love The Most Magnificent Thing. The story and illustrations are just fabulous. :)

      Roald Dahl definitely taps into the harder parts of life!

      I am impressed that Ashley can create art and watch tv. :)

      Loved your comment! :) ~L

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  23. I love the illustrations! And anyone who loves Roald Dahl is an kindred spirit. Great review.:)

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    1. Sue- So glad you enjoyed the interview! I think Ashley's illustrations are top notch! :) ~L

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  24. Roald Dahl is terrific! And I would totally keep a Bigfoot around if it did my laundry. =)

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    1. Leandra- I love Roald Dahl's books! I keep smiling picture Bigfoot doing laundry. :) ~L

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  25. To interview and dive into the mind of a good author is a dream. I love her illustrations. :)

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    1. Superlux- Thanks! Glad you enjoyed the interview and Ashley's illustrations! :) ~L

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  26. Wonderful interview! Thanks for the intro.

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    1. New Release Books- Thanks! Glad you enjoyed it! :) ~L

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  28. I agree. The illustrations are wonderful, not to mention the subject matter of the books.

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    1. Sandra- Ashley's style of writing and illustrating just begs to be read and looked at over and over again! :) ~L

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  29. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, Ashley!

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    1. Thanks for visiting, The Armchair Squid! :) ~L

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  30. Fantastic illustrations. I'm going to look up the new book now. Thanks!

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  31. omg how beautiful are those illustrations?! gorgeous! great interview with Ashley :) and I hear you on multiple books. I have to force myself to focus on one!

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    1. Beth Ellyn Summer- I agree with you about Ashley's illustrations. I could look at them all day! :) ~L

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  32. Nice interview! I love these illustrations!!

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    1. Thanks, Gloria! Ashley's illustrations have such character! :) ~L

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  33. Oh,Roald Dahl is a fave too and especially his Henry Sugar story collection. Lovely illustrations and I enjoyed getting a behind the scenes look at an illustrator's life!

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    1. DonnaGalanti- Thanks for visiting! I love Roald Dahl too- but haven't read his Henry Sugar story collection. So glad you enjoyed the interview. :) ~L

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  34. I love her books! I love her artwork! I love her!

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    1. Dena- Isn't Ashley awesome? :) ~L

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  35. Ashley is the first artist I know who admits to watching TV as she works! I adore her paintings and her quick sense of humour. We do need to be patient with ourselves because good things take time.

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    1. Claudine- I loved her honesty! She is so talented and funny. :) So glad you enjoy her work too! ~L

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