Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

The Questionless Books Interview: Illustrator and Cartoonist Willow Dawson

Share |
Illustrator and Cartoonist Willow Dawson

In The Questionless Books Interview, I get a whole bunch of books people (from authors to editors to publishers to sales / publicity / production people, booksellers, designers, librarians, readers, etc) to "answer" a series of unspoken "questions". The results highlight a delightful mix of the opportunities and challenges facing our sector: from doom and gloom to sunshine and rainbows, and every irony in between.

Willow Dawson is an illustrator and cartoonist working out of the RAID Comics Studio in downtown Toronto. She is the creator of Hyena in Petticoats: The Story of Suffragette Nellie McClung (Penguin Canada), Lila and Ecco's Do-It-Yourself Comics Club (Kids Can Press) and illustrator of award-winning graphic novels: No Girls Allowed with Susan Hughes (Kids Can Press) and Violet Miranda: Girl Pirate with Emily Pohl-Weary (Kiss Machine). Dawson just completed the illustrations for the upcoming science book The Big Green Book of the Big Blue Sea with Helaine Becker (Kids Can Press, ETA: April 2012) and is currently in development of 100 Mile House (excerpts published at Top Shelf 2.0). Dawson's illustration clients include: Owl Magazine, Kids Can Press, Penguin Canada, McGraw-Hill Ryerson Ltd., Top Shelf Comics, Metaviews, YWCA Canada, LGBTQ Parenting Network, and more.

Willow's Links:

Hyena in Petticoats
Lila and Ecco’s DIY Comics Club
No Girls Allowed

I am... a girl detective

I am known to... bruise easily

I do this in... summer dresses under winter stars

I do this because... I am joyously clumsy

I do this when I... am busy listening in on other people’s conversations, which is often

The way I do this is... by trying to look unassuming

At his/her core, a Writer is... someone who draws with words

As opposed to an Author, who is... frequently filling out grant applications

A Writer is responsible for... pushing boats into uncharted territories

As opposed to an Author, who is responsible for... pushing boats off cliffs

At its core, Publishing is... like turning words into lovely stone sculptures

As opposed to Editing, which is... not unlike the fluid movement of clay before firing

A Publisher should always... fight to keep their books alive

As opposed to an Editor, who should always... fight the words until they sing in a kind of perfect, if ever so slight dissonance

A Manuscript that's ready to be read by others is... one that you are almost proud of

As opposed to a Book that's ready to be read by others, which is... one that you are proud of but will still, somehow, always wish to improve

A Manuscript should always... be covered in notes and little drawings

As opposed to a Book, which should always... have a beautifully illustrated cover

At its core, Bookselling is... setting up a series of carefully orchestrated blind dates

As opposed to Book Marketing, which is... shooting at moving targets

The smallest unit of narrative is... a pebble at the mouth of a great river

The biggest reason to anticipate the future is... that by virtue of becoming virtual, stories will become flexible, breathable, malleable once again. Shifting, singing, sighing in response to the tides of time... just like the verbal storytelling of our ancestors before the printing press came and turned all our words into stone.

The biggest reason to be scared of the future is... that we will eventually be able to hear each other think.

In the future we will all... be able to climb tall buildings and turn ourselves invisible

At his/her core, a Reader is... thirsty

However, the ideal Reader is... perhaps not a Reader at all

The views expressed in the Writer-in-Residence blogs are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book: Toronto.

Related item from our archives

George Murray

George Murray’s six books of poetry include The Rush to Here and The Hunter. His most recent books, Whiteout and Glimpse: Selected Aphorisms, are published by ECW Press. He is the editor of the popular literary website

Go to George Murray’s Author Page