1. How did you come to the story in Whimsy’s Heavy Things?
The idea for this story was in the works long before I knew it. I drew on inspiration taken from my own life. The creative journey is a grand one, because it’s often one of passion, but it’s not without it’s heavy things. In pursuit of dreams, there is plenty of risk, sacrifice, and struggle along the way. I decided to create a metaphorical story based on things I had been learning and living. I am drawn to contrast and discord; in this case, I thought the idea of whimsy inhibited by heavy things would make for an interesting story.
2. What makes Whimsy a strong girl in your view?
Her grit, resilience. Whimsy’s strength is her willingness to keep problem solving her heavy things. She tries five different things and fails five times but after allowing herself a moment to feel sad and discouraged, she presses on and eventually discovers how to make her heavy things good and light. I love the idea of making bad things good, heavy things light. The nature of Whimsy’s strength is something I am always seeking.
3. What was the biggest challenge of writing about sadness in picture book format?
Perhaps trying to make sadness, that heavy feeling, relatable. No one is exempt from heavy things but we all experience them differently. The challenge was to represent the emotion in a manner that would keep it open for interpretation, giving the reader space to fill in their story.
4. Finish this sentence: Strong girls… find ways to make heavy things light.
5. Do you have a favorite illustration in the book? If so, which one and why?
I have two favourite illustrations in the book. The first one is the image of the heavy things tied to the kite. I have always loved meadows, especially wind-swept ones. I love them for their free and wild nature, the diversity within. The second one is the image of Whimsy swimming underwater with the heavy things on the seabed. This scene is taken directly from the beach and water at my family cottage on Georgian Bay. I spent countless hours every summer, exploring underwater with my younger sister, creating synchro shows, floating on boats and whatnot. The colours, mood, and lighting in this image are exactly what it looks and feels like in real life.
6. What are you working on next?
My next book, An Armadillo In Paris, comes out this fall with Tundra Books. It’s about a travelling armadillo named Arlo. His first adventure takes him to Paris to discover the city and to meet the one the French call La Dame de Fer, or Iron Lady.