Describe your new book.
Oddfellow's Orphanage is a series of stories/vignettes that tell the tale of the newest arrival to a curious orphanage, a mute girl named Delia. Through her eyes, we meet the orphanage itself, as well as the kind, but unusual family that calls Oddfellow's home. This is all nestled into the form of an early chapter book, heavily illustrated throughout with graphite drawings. I love books like The Wind in the Willows, Winnie-the-Pooh, or Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, books in which small interactions and adventures are collected together to create a larger sense of wonder and place. This is my hope for these stories, too.
What fictional character would you like to be your friend, and why?
I'd like to befriend Nick and Nora Charles from Dashiell Hammett's The Thin Man, but they would probably be too quick-witted (even soused) for the likes of me. So I'll opt for P. G. Wodehouse's Jeeves. Preferably embodied by Stephen Fry.
If you could choose any story to live in, which story would it be? Why?
I do think it would be awfully nice to live with Rat and Mole in The Wind in the Willows in a nice warm house tucked next to the river.
Introduce one other author/illustrator you think people should read, and suggest a good book by him/her.
I spent the last year falling madly in love with the late Angela Carter, a British author probably most famous for her extraordinary volume of rewritten fairy tales, The Bloody Chamber. In her time here, she was quite prolific, so (happily) there are numerous short stories, essays, and novels to paw through. Her writing is, to me, the most perfect blend of lush, strange extravagance with smart, wry wit.
Describe your most memorable teacher.
Her name was Mrs. Ecke, and she was my north star through the dark times growing up as a pale, strange, bookish girl in the tanned, rural, good-ol'-boy South. She talked to me about death and beauty and growing up. She took me to Kieslowski films and said she thought I was ready to read Joyce in eighth grade. She told me to sit tight, because things would be better in college. She was wrong about the Joyce, but right about everything else.
What was your favorite story as a child?
The Little Fur Family by Margaret Wise Brown, which still ranks very close to perfection with me.
If you could pick anyone to illustrate one of your books, who would it be and why? Conversely, if you're an illustrator, for what author would you like to illustrate?
I'd love to illustrate the aforementioned Angela Carter.
What's your clean, kid-friendly curse word substitute of choice?
"Rats." Always, "Rats."