Today’s insightful interview is with the amazing Faith Pray.
📚What’s the first thing you do when you wake up?
Drink a glass of water, curl up with sketchbook and pencils. Ask the Question of the Day in my sketchbook.
Sometimes the question of the day is where the top layer of my thinking solves day to day problems.
Sometimes the question of the day is a wander through deeper layers, letting images and stories emerge.
📚Are there any shows you like to binge watch?
Ooh, yes. Right now I’ve been into ONLY MURDERS IN THE BUILDING. I love mysteries!
📚What’s your favorite place to do some reading?
I have a chair and some small bookshelves in the corner of my studio, so that’s my top favorite spot to read.
📚What quote inspires you?
Some of my favorite lines are from The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo: “Stories are light. Light is precious in a world so dark. Begin at the beginning. Tell …a story. Make some light.“
Those words help me feel like work I do – the words, the art, the stories I make up can bring light and hope in the world.
And I also love this quote from Elizabeth Gilbert that feels very much like the spirit of PERFECTLY IMPERFECT MIRA: “It’s a simple and generous rule of life that whatever you practice, you will improve at.”
📚Let’s talk about your wonderful new book PERFECTLY IMPERFECT MIRA. Can you tell us a little bit about your book?
The idea for PERFECTLY IMPERFECT MIRA came from my daughter, who at the age of 11 decided she was done playing soccer, which she was really good at, and wanted to try something completely new. She wanted to try gymnastics. I worried about how it might be for her to start a new sport as an older beginner, surrounded by younger, experienced gymnasts. But my daughter went anyway, grew strong, confident, stood taller, and kept working at this sport not to win awards or get to the Olympics, but just because she loves it. I drew a little sketch celebrating her courage on social media, and my agent said, “This is your next book!” And that story seed about a girl who wants to break free from soccer and start gymnastics grew into the story of Mira, who wants to be good at something. Actually, she wants to be perfect at something, but everyone else is already better. It’s a story about loving ourselves exactly the way we are and learning to find joy in the process of growing.
📚What makes Mira such a loveable and relatable character?
Maybe we relate to characters like Mira because we are all messy humans with lots of parts that aren’t all shiny and perfect. And maybe it’s the way Mira struggles with looking at everyone else (isn’t that so much of our outward-facing online culture today?) assuming that surely, the rest of the world has it all figured out and surely they are all waiting to laugh when Mira makes her first big mistake. But also, maybe it’s just that we are all learners like Mira, we all have to start at the beginning sometime, and then learn how to make mistakes and try again if we want to grow.
📚This book has such a beautiful voice. Does your writing style come naturally or is it something that you’ve perfected over time?
Thank you! I spent years of my youth studying violin, guitar, songwriting, and I love poetry and word play, so that affinity for musicality definitely reflects in how I put words together.
📚I absolutely love the body positivity and diversity in the illustrations. Do you think about these things before you begin illustrating?
Most definitely! As I was developing what Mira would look like, I read this thread on Twitter by noted librarian Angie Manfredi about the lack of body representation in books (https://twitter.com/misskubelik/status/1131707592710004736) . Angie’s words made me feel deep in my bones that I wanted to widen my work to better represent the multitude of beauty in our world. I wanted Mira and the characters in my book to show readers of all shapes and abilities that they are worthy of center stage, they can delight in being the active heroes of their own stories.
📚Is there anything else you’d like to share about your book?
Oh, I hope that readers who meet my book will feel like they can celebrate each perfectly imperfect try and enjoy growing.