Fleur Pierets and Fatinha Ramos are the author and illustrator of the new children's picture book Love Is Love. It is a sequel to Love Around the World, which focuses on same-sex marriage. They are both based in Antwerp, Belgium.
Q: Why did you decide to write this sequel to Love Around the World?
Fleur: There are 28 countries where we can get married. The first book covers 14 of them so it was clear from the start that there needed to be a second book.
Q: How did you create the artwork for this new book?
Fatinha: This book’s creative process was divided in three parts: the research, the sketch, and the development. Because is a story based on true facts, I first researched the couple, based on articles and photos.
The other part of the research was about the countries where they would get married, about the culture and atmosphere of each country...following the text of the book, of course.
Fleur and [her late wife] Julian are actually based on the real people; they are very recognisable. The places they visit also have very recognisable elements too, which why my research was so important.
In the sketch phase (with pencil) I decided which elements exactly I was going to use in order to give an added value to the story. The development phase is the use of mixed media, analogue and digital: acrylic paint to create the textures and finishing touches with Photoshop.
was a real treat for me to work on this project together with Fleur and the
publisher. It was also a huge responsibility because through my drawings I
brought Julian back to life, so they could finish their Love project... This
project really resonated with me.
Q: What do you hope kids take away from Love Is Love?
Fleur: I hope this will help kids develop critical thinking. To have an open mind.
more than 1.8 million LGBTQ young people of age 13 to 24 contemplates a suicide
attempt each year in the United States. That’s 1.8 million children.
The suicide numbers for LGBTQ youth are miles high and the numbers are only increasing.
Minority stress - created by stigma, discrimination, bullying or bias - is credited as the mail detractor to the mental health of LGBTQ youth.
I hope that all children can see that difference isn’t bad, that inclusion represents strength, and that love comes in many forms.
Q: Do you see more progress ahead for marriage equality around the world?
We started our real live performance piece in 2017 and we named the project 22, because there were 22 countries where we could get married at that time. The name
was a very conscious decision and we hoped for an extra country to join the
troops while we were travelling.
That would show that the world is in constant movement. It would allow us to build a time capsule that instantly refers to the possibility of change.
Meanwhile the numbers increased and nowadays we can get married in 28 countries. But still: at the current rate we will reach global recognition in the year 2142. That’s 123 years from now so we wanted to see if we could get it to go a bit faster.
Q: What are you working on now?
Fleur: My first novel, Julian, will be made into a movie, so currently I’m co-writing the script and I’m working on a second novel.
Fatinha: I am working on two children’s books at the moment. One of them is written by me. I feel that I also have a lot of stories to tell, so I would like to explore more of that part...In fact, I believe that children’s books illustrators are actually kind of visual authors.
Q: Anything else we should know?
Fatinha: Fleur and I live in the same city (Antwerp), have some common friends, and we never ever met each other before we worked on Love Around The World. In fact, it was through our publisher from NYC, Charles Kim, that we got to know each other. I think it was meant to be.
--Interview with Deborah Kalb