Monday, April 15, 2024

Q&A with Gillian Sze


Gillian Sze is the author of the new children's picture book I Drew a Heart. Her other books include the picture book The Night Is Deep and Wide. Also a poet, she teaches creative writing and literature at Concordia University. She lives in Montreal.


Q: What inspired you to write I Drew a Heart?


A: I’m an avid drawer of hearts. I add them to my letters, to the fronts and backs of envelopes, and at the ends of names. I scribble them on napkins and in the margins of my books. In the winter, I’ll trace hearts in the snow while taking my kids to school.


When I taught my son to draw a heart, I loved how perfectly imperfect his hearts were, each heart coming out differently and yet all recognizably the same.


Q: What do you think Naoko Stoop’s illustrations add to the story?


A: I am a longtime fan of Naoko Stoop and have been reading her books to my kids for a while now. I love the softness in her art and the quiet magic of her colours.


While writing this manuscript, I could only picture everything in line drawings, but Naoko’s art gives each scene this gorgeous depth of hues and emotions.


Q: The Kirkus Review of the book called it a “tender story that feels like a cozy hug.” What do you think of that description?


A: I’m so touched by that reading. I wanted to write a book about love and creativity and family. The book is a celebration of all of that, so I’m glad it came through.


Q: What do you hope kids take away from the story?


A: I hope young readers can see how love is a wide range of sensations and experiences. I also hope that the story encourages them to make mistakes, embrace imperfections, and use their imaginations.


Q: What are you working on now?


A: I usually have a picture book and a poetry manuscript on the go. I just finished writing a poem about crabapple trees.


Q: Anything else we should know?


A: My next picture book comes out in 2025 with Groundwood Books. I look forward to sharing that with you soon.


--Interview with Deborah Kalb. Here's a previous Q&A with Gillian Sze.

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