What book do you wish you had written, and why?
I’m a big fan of the late Eva Ibbotson’s work. She was a very prolific children’s writer and many of her books are ‘comfort reads’ to me. Her books are some of the most beautifully written I’ve ever read, and she was incredible at crafting intricate, tight, and surprising plots. She doesn’t have a bad book, and I would have loved to have written any of them.
From an illustration side of things, one of my beloved books is Jane, The Fox, And Me by Fanny Britt and Isabelle Arsenault. It’s a graphic novel that explores what it means to be an adolescent girl in one of the truest, poignant ways I’ve ever come across. It also helps that the book’s plot revolves around Jane Eyre, another of my all time favourites.
If you’re not reading or writing, what would we catch you doing?
The honest (but dull) answer to this is watching Netflix— I’ve even been known to have Netflix on in the background while I’m working. I’m also currently finishing up a double Masters’ Program in Museum Studies and Archiving, so that also eats into my creative time a bit.
Where can readers find you on the web and social media?
I share artwork on my Instagram, @eleanorreeshowell, and I also have a website, www.eleanorreeshowell.com.
What’s the last book you read?
I’ve been a grad student for the last three years and was an undergrad before that, and I realized lately that thanks to the copious amounts of required academic reading I’d ‘fallen out of love’ with the act of reading— which is heartbreaking! I decided to make it a priority to read recreationally this year and have started January off with a short, easy book: Lord of the Rings. Hm… my January 1st self was clearly feeling optimistic in the post-Christmas haze. I’ve never read LoTR before, even though I loved The Hobbit as a child, so I’m really enjoying myself. As I write this, I’m almost through The Two Towers and plan to finish the trilogy before the end of the month (a total of 576,459 words!!). Needless to say, I’ll probably pick something a little lighter on the word count in February.
If money were no object, what would be your dream writing/illustrating location?
I have a (perhaps embarrassingly) specific answer to this: I’d live in a Victorian townhouse in the city (I currently live in Toronto, and the Victorians here are beautiful). My studio would either be in a south-facing room with high walls and a huge bay window, or I’d convert the attic space and work beneath the pointed ceilings (I’m short, so it would work). Right now my workspace also doubles as my dining table, so I’ve spent a fair bit of time dreaming about my ideal studio.
What’s your favorite piece of creative advice you’ve received?
I couldn’t tell you where I heard it, and it might just be my own doctored version of ‘write what you know’, but for the last few years I’ve worked with the mantra ‘write/draw for yourself’. It’s fairly obvious, but the projects of mine I love most (whether written, illustrated, or both) all stem from thinking, ‘well, what would I like to read/see?’ In fact, it was asking those kinds of questions that led to the creation of the illustrated book I submitted to Tracy here at BookEnds. I made the book for myself, and the creative liberation that followed resulted in a book I’m really proud of. I’m a big advocate for creating things that first and foremost interest you.