Britt Wilson is not John Martz.
The Proust-Esque Questionnaire is based on a set of 36 standardized questions designed by Marcel Proust in the 1890’s to give an overview of the respondent’s personality. Our goals are less lofty, but hopefully will provide some insight into how your favorite authors and illustrators work and what they love.
My earliest memories of children’s lit are of my father reading to me and my little brother every night before bed. Roald Dahl and Robert Munsch (right). He would do all the voices and get very animated and I’m not sure how he ever managed to get us to sleep.
It’s late, and I’m tired and I just listened to the audiobook for the millionth time, so I’m going to say Sophie from Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones. I’m the eldest and therefor doomed to be a failure. Also I feel about ninety right now.
3. WHO IS YOUR FAVORITE CHILDREN’S BOOK AUTHOR? ILLUSTRATOR?
I don’t think I can answer that. I have a pretty large number of children’s lit from board books all the way up to YA. I hoard pretty books like a magpie, and when I was young and had time to read novels I amassed quite the collection. Too many of them are near and dear to my heart for so many different reasons.
4. IF YOU WERE THROWING A KINDERLIT PARTY FOR FIVE GUESTS, WHO WOULD YOU INVITE?
Hmm, Roald Dahl, Carson Ellis, Garth Nix, Schmendrick from Peter S. Beagle’s The Last Unicorn, and… David Roberts. I don’t know that they’d get along, but I’d love to pick all their brains and maybe just gaze at them for awhile. Schmendrick would be there mostly for entertainment.
5. WHICH QUALITY DO YOU THINK IS MOST IMPORTANT IN GOOD CHILDREN’S LITERATURE?
I think that a lot of kids lit suffers from pandering, and from being too saccharine. Good literature for kids needs to reflect kids themselves, not their weepy, boring parents. Also I think there is a huge lack of POC characters and that needs to change.
6. IF YOUR OWN WORK HAS A DEFINING CHARACTERISTIC, WHAT WHAT IS IT?
I don’t know that it does, yet. Let me get a few more books under my belt.
Willie Wonka, obviously.
8. IF YOU COULD GO BACK AND REDO ONE THING IN YOUR WORK, WHAT WOULD IT BE?
Hahah! Only one thing?! I guess I’ll go broad then. I’d love for my work to be a bit less fussy. I know that requires me to fuss over it less, and I’ve been fussing over that.
9. WHAT IS THE GREATEST PIECE OF ADVICE YOU WERE EVER GIVEN?
One of my illustration profs, Rick Sealock once said: “It needs more bodily fluids”. Rick wanted us all to have fun with our work, while we were all trying to be the next James Jean, it was a refreshing thought. It was what lead me to comics, and in a roundabout way, working for kids.
10. DESCRIBE YOUR WORK PROCESS.
I wish I could show you my workspace right now, but it’s not fit for human consumption. I’ve always been a bit untidy, but since moving, having a baby, and working on a comic miniseries, my workspace started at chaotic and has only gotten worse.
My process changes a lot, depending on the type of work. It all starts with thumbnails. I don’t do very many because I rarely have more than one or two good ideas. Then a rough drawing. My roughs are very tight. I hate making decisions when I get to the final art stage. Then if I’m doing comics, I move on to inking and then digital colour. I used to paint with gouache a lot, and I miss it. If I’m doing a painting I scan the rough and print it out lightly onto watercolour paper and then settle in to paint for often upwards of 30 hours.
11. WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE CHILDREN’S BOOK?
I love so many. I saved many from my own childhood and have gathered so many more. But I think overall my favourite will always be Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. If I analyze it, it has all the same problems so many books have, no important female characters, or POC’s etc. But it’s so closely tied to those memories of my father reading to us (he was forced to read this one over and over and over) that I can’t quite care about all the flaws I would tear down any contemporary publication for.