Friday, July 10, 2020

Q&A with Suzanne Del Rizzo and Miki Sato

Suzanne Del Rizzo
Suzanne Del Rizzo is the author and Miki Sato is the illustrator of the new children's picture book Golden Threads.

Q: How did you come up with the idea for Golden Threads, and why did you decide to focus on the Japanese art form of kintsugi in the book?

SDR: Thanks so much for the opportunity to chat about Golden Threads, Deborah!  

Golden Threads was inspired by one of my children’s stuffies, named Puppy, who you can see beside my author blurb in our book. As with many children’s beloved stuffies, they are wonderful sidekicks, best buds, snugglers, and confidants.

Over the years I would mend Puppy with colourful embroidery thread, as the most “loved up” parts, like his foot or back would become worn bare and often start to fray.

At that time, I wasn’t aware of the art form of kintsugi but I think I was considering something like it subconsciously as I wanted to highlight and celebrate the repair as it was a reminder and celebration highlighting the love and adventures Puppy and my son had encountered.

I came across kintsugi (and the wabi-sabi philosophy) one day and was totally captivated. I loved everything about it and it resonated deeply with me. It made me think immediately of Puppy, and I knew it was the wee spark of a book idea to explore further.

Also, with the "throw away" epidemic of today’s society, I think picture books with gentle themes touching on meaningful connection, finding beauty and happiness in the imperfect, kindness and resilience are needed more than ever.

Miki Sato
Q: In creating the illustrations, were you influenced by the kintsugi concept, and if so, how?

MS: I wasn't directly influenced by the concept of kintsugi per se, but the philosophy of wabi-sabi is definitely something that I should consider more often when working on my illustrations.

I can be a bit of a perfectionist, but because I work with all types of materials that each have their own quirks and limitations, there will always be some flaws.

Wabi-sabi is about accepting transience and imperfections, so coming to terms with that would allow me to not get so wound up about seeking perfection in my work. It will hopefully let the characteristics of the materials shine through instead.

Q: Why did you decide to tell the story from the fox's perspective?

SDR: I think any child who has a stuffy feel that they have a personality, a life, and voice, so I wanted to pay tribute to that.

Also, I felt the story was most powerfully told through the Fox’s POV, because Fox was the one who was lost and went on this incredible journey of both physical separation (being lost and found), but also of friendship, self-discovery, self-love, resilience, and healing. I think we all, especially children, can all relate and connect with Fox’s story, as it is universal.

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

SDR: I hope this book reminds kids how powerful they are, that they too (and their stuffies) are capable of gentle kindness, inner strength, resilience, love, and should always search for the beauty in the world, and within ourselves.  

We all have struggles, but if we embrace our golden seams, pick ourselves back up, these experiences will make us stronger, unique and more beautiful.

MS: I'd like readers to embrace the idea that everyone is perfectly imperfect. People are made up of both good and bad experiences, and that is what makes us who we are. Any perceived flaw that someone may have about themselves does not diminish their worth, and it is important to be kind to yourself through self-love and acceptance.

Q: What are you working on now?

SDR: With the Covid pandemic, a family member’s illness, and my four children home doing on-line learning, it’s been a challenging time, but I have a few new things I am working on, and also experimenting with new illustration directions.

MS: Recently, I finished illustrating my second children's book. It's called Snow Days, written by Deborah Kerbel, and is coming November 2020 from Pajama Press. It's full of fun winter scenes and children enjoying all the different kinds of snow!

Q: Anything else we should know?

SDR: This is the first picture book I wrote and did not illustrate. The fabulous Karen Li suggested Miki illustrate, and I am so thrilled she did! I was blown away by Miki’s gorgeous cut paper and thread illustrations and the “unique take” Miki brought to this project. Thanks Miki!

MS: There will always come a time when something you love either breaks, or has reached the end of its usefulness to you. When it does, please consider giving the object a second life by repairing it, or by giving it to someone else who would love it all the same.

--Interview with Deborah Kalb. Here's a previous Q&A with Suzanne Del Rizzo.

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