Friday, March 9, 2012

Q&A with 15-year "Overnight Kidslit Success" Cybèle Young in Latest Quill & Quire

Cybèle Young may have seemed like an overnight kidlit success when her most recent picture book, Ten Birds (Kids Can Press), won a Governor General’s Literary Award last fall, but the Toronto-based artist actually began working on it more than 15 years ago.

Young first made her name in the art world, where her miniature paper sculptures have attracted galleries and collectors in Vancouver, London, and New York, and landed her a recent residency in Paris.

In the March 2012 issue of Quill & Quire, Young talks with me about how her art informs her literary work, the transporting power of story, and what readers can expect next.

Here's an excerpt from a short version of the Q&A published on Quillblog:

It might surprise some to learn that you trained as a sculptor. How did you get into publishing?
From a very young age, there was no question in my mind that I was an artist. At the Ontario College of Art, I did all sculpture courses. But in my final year of school, when I was pregnant with my daughter, everything shifted. I took a book-arts class and discovered that books were sculptural, too, on a private yet accessible level. I found myself going to kids’ book sections a lot more than I would go to galleries. And I still do.

You started Ten Birds in 1996. How did it finally come to fruition?
I drew most of the pictures for Ten Birds right after my daughter was born. I went to Groundwood Books with it 15 years ago because co-publisher Patsy Aldana is a friend’s mother. Then I illustrated a bit for Groundwood while focusing mainly on art – I felt I could only have one focus in addition to parenting.

Three years ago, after Groundwood had agreed to publish another picture book of mine, A Few Blocks (2011), I thought, “Well, I already showed this to Patsy, and we’re working together on something else,” so I showed it to Kids Can publisher Karen Boersma, whom I’d met at Groundwood. It clicked. We added one or two pages at the beginning and one or two at the end, but other than that, we used only the original drawings.

I have to say, I find it quite remarkable myself that the drawings Young won her GG for were created when she was just out of art school! A good reminder not to throw early projects away, perhaps!

For more answers from Young, read on at Quillblog, or seek out a hard copy of the March 2012 Quill & Quire.

(Image of Ten Birds' cover via Kids Can Press)

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