A Mini-Interview with Zachariah OHora



November Mini-Interviews 2013

Hello again! Happy Thanksgiving week! Welcome back to week four of our 2013 November Mini-Interviews. People, it’s time to celebrate! I have here with me the most talented Zachariah OHora.

The first time I saw Zach’s work I was at a bookstore. I opened “No Fits, Nilson!” and was immediately attracted by the bold work. Nilson, the zen-challenged Gorilla, filled each page. With each page turn, I fell more and more in love with this angry ape. I wanted to know more about the author-illustrator behind the book so I asked Zach to be part of our Mini-Interviews. He graciously agreed. Now, I am giddy to introduce you to Zachariah OHora.

Zachariah OHora
About Zachariah OHora

Zachariah OHora is an award winning illustrator. His work has appeared in numerous magazines and newspapers and has been recognized by the Society of Illustrators, American Illustration, Communication Arts, AIGA and Print Magazine.

His debut book “Stop Snoring Bernard!” (Henry Holt) was the PA One Book choice for 2012 and won the Society of Illustrators Founders Award for 2011. His latest book “No Fits Nilson!” (Dial) received a Kirkus Star and was included in the 2013 SOI Original Art Show. He is hard at work on his next picture book “My Cousin Momo” (Winter 2015) about a flying squirrel who is reluctant to show off his talent. He is also illustrating two books for Little, Brown –“Wolfie the Bunny” and “Horrible Bear” both written by Ame Dyckman.

To learn more about Zachariah, you can visit his website: zohora.com. You can also follow his Blog, and follow him on Twitter.

Please describe your career as an author-illustrator in 5 words:

The Long and Winding Road.

Which books, that were your favorites when you were little, have had the greatest influence on your work?

Pretty much all of the Richard Scarry stuff. Especially “Rabbit and his Friends” and “What do People Do All Day?”. Syd Hoff’s, “Danny and the Dinosaur”. Also, “Harry the Dirty Dog”, “Lyle the Crocodile” and “Father Fox’s Pennyrhymes” by Clyde and Wendy Watson.

Please share an instance in which you had an idea or experience, that started out small, but took root and grew to become a book.

I’m not sure if this was small. But my oldest son was in the middle of his terrible twos AND threes and was throwing huge fits regularly. I always marveled that this little person could have so much strength. I was like wrestling a gorilla out of the supermarket, that lead to the creation of Nilson the gorilla. Here’s a chart that describes it pretty well.

Do you ever hide little images, names or personal details in your illustrations? Please give us a peek.

Yes, I do. Sometimes they are references to my life or family and sometimes they are just things I think are funny. I’m working on a book right now called “Wolfie the Bunny” written by Ame Dyckman. In it the bunny family live in our old apartment in Park Slope. It was a “garden apartment” so that seems like a good one for bunnies. Here are a couple from “No Fits, Nilson”.

Daily routines are important for both writers and illustrators. Could you describe your typical work day, and tell us the one little thing you absolutely cannot begin your day without (besides caffeine)?

After coffee and a bagel, I drop my kids off to school. Emails, Blog stuff and surfing for the morning. I usually have my first session of working on projects about 10am-1pm. Listen to NPR morning edition and music. Break for lunch and talk to Teddy as he is in preschool and home by noon. Work again from 1:30-4:30 or 5pm This is my most productive time if I’m not on a severe deadline. Listen to Podcasts like WTF or YDMN. Dinner and kids to the playground. Put them to bed and work again from 7:30 until 10pm. Sometimes I’ll stream a Netflix movie while I work. An hour of TV with my wife Lydia. Usually I sketch on fun stuff or read while I’m watching TV.
My wife Lydia and I both work for ourselves and we alternate days that the other person is taking care of the kids. So on my day with the kids I work until 11:30 Hang with the kids in the afternoon and make dinner. Work again after they are in bed. So on average I work either an 11 hour day or a 6 hour day but my commute is only a set of stairs.

Would you tell me about your first experience as an author-illustrator? How did it happen? Who gave you that chance?

My first illustration job was also a dream job. While I was in school at CCA, I got a call from Arlene Owseichik to do a poster for The Fillmore. I had sent her a couple postcards. I’d always love the Fillmore and the rich poster history there and at the time every poster that was made for a show was given out for free at the end of the show. They also put one framed on the wall of the Fillmore. It was fun over the years to see shows there and spot my posters among many talented and amazing poster artists.

My Cousin Momo by Zachariah OHora

‘My Cousin Momo’ by Zachariah OHora

No Fits, Nilson! by Zachariah OHora

‘No Fits, Nilson!’ by Zachariah OHora

Stop Snoring, Bernard! by Zachariah OHora

‘Stop Snoring, Bernard!’ by Zachariah OHora

Such a great opportunity! Thanks for participating, Zach! It was great having you.

Thinking this is the last week of Mini-Interviews? No. I will see you here next Tuesday with my Mini-Interview with Sophie Blackall . But don’t go just yet, we have 3 more guests for you this week -even on Thanksgiving day:


This post is part of the Mini-Interview Series where 4 children’s illustrators interview other Children’s Illustrators and Author-Illustrators throughout the month of November. Our guests for 2013 include:

You can learn more about the Series and the guests to this blog here.



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2 comments


  • Interesting to hear about Zacharia’s work day, how he shares the family responsiblities with his partner and what we can look forward to in his work. Sure would have liked to see some of those posters!

    November 26, 2013
    • Hi Julie! A supportive partner is always so important. I love the posters, too :)

      November 26, 2013

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