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.Follow my blog with Bloglovin
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