A Mini-Interview with Sophie Blackall



November Mini-Interviews 2013

Welcome back to our Mini-Interview Grand Finale Week! Today I have with me the author-illustrator Sophie Blackall.

I have lost count of how many times I have read, looked, open and closed “Are You Awake?”. Sophie brilliantly wrote and illustrated it. Since I love the book and Sophie’s work so much, I had to asked her to be my last guest. It’s been a busy couple of months for Sophie, nevertheless she found time for us. With you, the fantastic Sophie Blackall.

Sophie Blackall
About Sophie Blackall

Born in 1970, Sophie Blackall grew up in Australia. She completed a Bachelor of Design in Sydney in 1992 with honors. Blackall was seduced by New York and moved there in 2000. In 2002, she illustrated the children’’s book “Ruby’s Wish” by Shirin Yim Bridges (Chronicle Books), which won the Ezra Jack Keats award in 2003. Since then, she has illustrated seventeen other books for children including “Meet Wild Boars” by Meg Rosoff (Henry Holt & Co) which won the Society of Illustrators Founders Award, and the “Ivy and Bean” series by Annie Barrows (Chronicle Books).

In the rare moments that Blackall is away from her desk, she can be found in the kitchen making preposterous birthday cakes for her children or wandering the Brooklyn flea markets in a daze.

To learn more about Sophie, you can visit her website: sophieblackall.com. You can also follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

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

Often exhausting but endlessly rewarding.

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

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.

In early 2009, having worked happily but relentlessly on children’s books for a number of years, I had an overwhelming desire to do something more grown-up. I stumbled on Missed Connections, the online listings posted by lovelorn strangers hoping to reconnect, and immediately saw those messages as drawings. I decided to illustrate them. In an effort to make myself actually commit to the idea, I endeavored to do a drawing a week, and post them on a blog. As the blog posts grew, so did this remarkable, surprising audience. The response was overwhelming, all the more because it was unexpected. I began to receive emails from all over the world; Italy and Argentina, South Africa and Israel. Magazines asked for interviews. The New York Times called. And regular people wrote begging me to help them find their lost loves. They told me my pictures had made their day, had pulled them out of a funk, had put a spark back in their marriage. Had given them hope. Hope in kindness and intimacy between strangers, hope in finding their own true loves. Hope of connecting. In 2011 Workman collected the series in a book, Missed Connections, Love, Lost and Found, which was named one of the Best Art and Design Books of 2011 on brainpickings.org (one of my very favorite websites).

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

It’s no longer a secret that I hide a whale in every book in honor of Moby Dick.

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)?

Email. Some of the people I love best in the world live in different time zones, so I like to see what they’ve been doing while I’ve been sleeping.

I love Are You Awake? Would you share anything you would like about the book and your experience as an author-illustrator?

This was my first book as author and illustrator and I learned a lot from the experience. I wrote the manuscript when my son was 3, and it finally came out when he was 12. In some ways it bears little resemblance to the book I imagined, and I admit that it was a rather disappointing process. Sometimes in publishing you don’t have much control over the finished book. But having said that, I read it to a bunch of four year olds at a pre-school recently, and they hooted appreciatively! So that was nice.

You can find more about “Are You Awake?” and Sophie’s process in her blog post.

Are You Awake? by Sophie Blackall

‘Are You Awake?’ by Sophie Blackall

Thank you for your time and the interview, Sophie! I’m so glad you had time for this. And to the readers, thank you so very much for following the series!

We still have 3 more interviews this week:

 


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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6 comments


  • I absolutely love The Mighty Lalouche! Sophie’s illustrations are so beautiful. Thanks for sharing.

    December 3, 2013
    • Thanks for the comment and visit, Nessa! Sophie’s work is so special. I’m so glad she had the time for the interview.

      December 3, 2013
  • Sophie’s work has a magical transportive quality. Thanks for for the interview, Juana.

    December 3, 2013
    • Perfect description, Julie! Thanks for the comment and the visit :)

      December 3, 2013
  • A fantastic insight into the mind of an illustrator I love… clever, witty and beautiful art. Thank you Sophie, and thank you Juana!!!

    December 3, 2013
    • Thank you for the visit and comment, Maral!

      December 3, 2013

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