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Welcome to BookEnds, Cathleen McAllister!

How do I even begin to introduce someone as crazy talented as Cathleen? I can’t even gather the words so I will let her art do the talking for me.

Tell us a bit about your illustration process. Where do you draw, and how often?

I draw and paint every single day! I have a workspace at home full of plants and knick-knacks. I like to draw from observation to understand a subject matter. Plants, animals, and people at coffee shops are all fair game!

Do you have any writing rituals? (e.g. burning a candle if you’re having trouble getting started at the computer or writing longhand first if you’re feeling uninspired.)

When I’m having trouble starting, there are a few habits I have including making tea, turning on my aroma diffuser, starting some music or putting on an inspirational movie, scrolling through Tumblr, and cleaning my desk. I find that I can’t work unless my desk feels properly organized. If I’m struggling to draw something original, I’ll do observational studies or fan art instead!


What do you love about writing [insert your genre(s) here]?

YA and MG fantasy are the most fun for me. For me, those were pivotal years where I began looking up to heroines for their strength, voice, and problem-solving. I’m a sucker for magic, fantasy, princesses, and whimsical stories. I’m drawn to the worldbuilding in fantasy, and the maturity and charm of YA/MG. You can explore rich outdoor landscapes, or beautifully detailed interiors. As a kid, I always wanted to spend some more time in those environments, so I began painting them.



Why did you choose the genre you’ve chosen?

I grew up reading Tamora Pierce, Garth Nix, JK Rowling, and Tolkein. In middle and elementary school, we were given a great deal of library free time where I would pick up random fantasy books. I loved fairies and princesses, and also lady knights and witches. I don’t think I will ever get bored of those stories!


What is the hardest part about illustrating [insert your genre(s) here]?

Characters! Natural landscapes and architecture flow so easily for me, but characters are another battle. Especially because they are the focal point and need to be very tightly drawn. Also, being from an animation background, the process and mindset for designing characters is much different.


If you’re not reading or writing, what would we catch you doing? 


Bug collecting, embroidering, plant identification, cooking, plein air painting, and hiking are all possibilities!


Where can readers find you on the web and social media?


Cathleenmcallister (IG, tumblr)



What’s the last book you read?

The Language of Thorns


If money were no object, what would be your dream writing location?

I would love to be somewhere nice and cold. Possibly back in Seattle or in San Francisco!


What’s your favorite quote about reading or writing?

Don’t polish a turd. Meaning, don’t spend time rendering something until the idea, composition, and fundamentals are in place.



Do you have a writing playlist or a vision board?  If so, what’s on them?

Everything from quiet indie with wispy female vocals to hiphop/rap. Movie soundtracks are also a good choice! My top 3 playlists are a female vocals mix (a mix of folk, indie, and female rappers), a hiphop playlist, and a Disney playlist.


Do you get inspiration from any TV shows or movies?  If so, which ones?

My go-to programming is either Blue Planet or Planet Earth.


Drink of choice when writing? When not writing?

Coffee! Always!


What excites you most about joining the BookEnds family?

I am excited to work more in publishing and get first hand experience with becoming an author/illustrator. In publishing, your final drawing is the final product, whereas my experience in film and games is quite different. It is also exciting to be a part of such a talented and positive group with so many other women!



If you could meet any author, living or dead, who would you want to meet and why?

JK Rowling. I could pick her brain about worldbuilding forever. I believe that she is a master of the world that she created, and I’d love to know HOW she created the rich world that she did.

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