Remy Lai is the author of the new graphic novel, Pawcasso (which I loved and included in the Summer Reading Guide). Today, I’m chatting with her about her inspiration for the basket-toting dog, writing about difficult family situations, and going from Fine Arts to writing.
Remy is giving away a copy of Pawcasso to one reader! Find out how to enter at the end of this post.
Hi Remy! What a pleasure to chat with you about Pawcasso, which I loved. Why, I have to ask, a book about a dog with a basket (who goes grocery shopping!)? What inspired this story?
Thank you for having me! I was trying to come up with an idea for my third book when my editor at Macmillan suggested I write a dog book. I wanted to write and draw a joyful book inspired by my dog. He doesn’t go shopping, but like Pawcasso, he likes to roll in poop.
My heart went out to Jo throughout this story. Lonely and needing a way into new friendships. Did you ever feel that way as a kid?
Definitely. Now, when I feel lonely, I know to call to text my friends and family, or read a good book and get lost in it, or give my dogs a cuddle or take them on a walk.
Things at home are a bit tough for Jo with her dad working away from home. In your debut middle grade novel, Pie in the Sky, the kids are also dealing with the grief of a dead parent. Would you say you enjoy writing about familial challenges that kids face, and why are you drawn to such stories?
I think everyone at some points in their lives experience challenges with their parents and siblings. Family relationship is something I find endlessly interesting, and I like to explore it in my writing to help me make sense of my own.
I also loved the small town where the story is set and the fact that the kids use public transportation. Were you inspired by any specific town?
It is more an amalgamation of many towns, real and fictional.
You illustrate all your stories, and I know you have a degree in Fine Arts. Were you always interested in being a writer? How did you find your way into writing?
I was always interested in making up stories, and I did really enjoy writing narrative essays in elementary school. But I didn’t seriously think about trying to become an author until I was in college.
What do you enjoy most about illustrating? And do you have any tips for illustrators trying to find a unique style?
I’ve been drawing since I could remember. It’s just a place I can really get lost in and nothing else matters.
A tip to finding your own style is to study other artists’ styles, and from there, I think you will naturally, with time, develop your own.
I loved the feel of summer throughout this book. What is your favorite season, and why?
Australian winters are prefect for me—not too hot and not too cold.
Which middle grade books have you read and enjoyed recently?
What do you hope Pawcasso does for readers who encounter it?
The dog who inspired Pawcasso brings me so much joy, and I hope that comes across in the book, and through to the readers.
Thanks for your time, Remy!
Enter the giveaway for a chance to win a copy of Remy Lai’s Pawcasso. US Only!a Rafflecopter giveaway
Meet Remy Lai
Remy Lai studied fine arts, with a major in painting and drawing. She was born in Indonesia, grew up in Singapore, and currently lives in Brisbane, Australia, where she writes and draws stories for kids with her two dogs by her side. Pie in the Sky is her debut middle-grade novel. Follow Remy on her website, Twitter, and on Instagram.