What is your earliest memory of writing/drawing?
One of my earliest drawing that I still have is a little elephant. It is a very simple line drawing on a scrap paper. The line is not completed but I can tell it is an elephant with long nose. I love this drawing because it has simply everything that needs to make the drawing looks like an elephant.
What inspired you to write/illustrate your first book?
My first book The Little Red Fish was my thesis project. I wanted to make a book about the library. For me, the library was always very mysterious place with many rooms filled with dusty books. It is like a labyrinth with stories. I tend to think in visual images when I create a story. So I drew whatever comes in my head on my sketchbook. And this book story began from one of a little drawing of them. My niece and grandfather (who always reads books) were big inspiration for the characters in my book. It is easy to think people around me when I draw characters because I can easily feel connection with them.
Do you use your childhood as inspiration?
Of course I use all my childhood memories and it's been a big references for my work. I like to recall what I used to think or play when I was young.
What books from your childhood have most influenced your work? What about adult titles?
It is hard to say what was the 'most' influenced book but I have two books that I loved when I was young. Momo by Michael Ende and My Lime Orange Tree by Jose Mauro de Vasconcelos. I still read those books sometimes.
What are your hobbies and interests besides reading and books?
I love walking. Specially when my work is not going well, I take a walk outside. And sometimes I find some interesting idea on the street from very unrelated situation with my story.
Who are a couple of your favorite author/illustrators? What is it about their work that inspires and interests you?
I am a long time fan of Peter Sis. His art is very whimsical and full of warmth.
I also love Evaline Ness art work. I found her books when I was in school in New York. And I was amazed by her beautiful drawings. Her works made me wanted to know more of 50's children's books.
What one or two words of advice would you give for young authors/illustrators?
I would like to say write and draw something that you really enjoy. Or it will be hard to keep working because you will be bored and the work is not special for yourself anymore.