Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Q&A with Kate Gavino

Kate Gavino is the author of the new book Last Night's Reading: Illustrated Encounters with Extraordinary Authors. A writer and illustrator, she is based in Brooklyn.

Q: How did you come up with the idea for this book?

A: Since I moved to New York seven years ago, I've always gone to readings since they're usually free and at my favorite bookstores. I've always doodled in notebooks while listening – it oddly keeps me focused.

At a Junot Diaz reading in 2013, he spoke about the importance of bearing witness to what you've seen, and as someone who is constantly observing, this rang especially true to me. I posted the quote alongside a portrait I drew of him on Tumblr, and that was the first official post on Last Night's Reading.

Q: You say in the book that you go to book readings to observe and to draw. Do you ever talk to the authors or ask them questions, or would that change the dynamic for your drawings?

A: I go to book readings to observe, so I don't usually talk to the author unless I happen to know them. I like listening to them, as well as watching how they interact with the audience. I'm sure my drawings would be somewhat different if I actually sat down and had a conversation with them.

Q: What time period does the book include?

A: The book has drawings from 2013 to 2015.

Q: How do you choose the quote that accompanies the drawing for each author?

A: I take notes throughout the entire reading, jotting down anything that sounds interesting, intelligent, or just funny. Then I go home and look over my notes, deciding which one I like best. Sometimes I'll immediately know which quote I'm going to use the moment I hear it, while other times, I don't choose until hours later.

I like quotes about the process of writing since I'm a writer myself, and since every writer is different, I like how authors' advice contradict and compliment each other.

Q: What are you working on now?

A: During the day I work at the Brooklyn Public Library, and I still maintain Last Night's Reading, which involves attending about two to four readings a week. I also do freelance illustration for various literary organizations.

Q: Anything else we should know?

A: The best part of writing this book was sitting down and really reflecting on why I love attending readings in the first place. The process made me realize how important bookstores were to me as spaces where readers and writers come together.

--Interview with Deborah Kalb

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