Author & Illustrator Interview: Viviane Schwarz

Viviane Schwarz… HUGE welcome to Viviane Schwarz.

Tell us about you in 25 words or less.

I make things that I want to exist. I aim for them to be encouraging and accessible. I really like artichokes.

What makes you happy?

Artichokes. Sleep. Understanding or learning something new. Seeing others happy, at rest or understanding or learning something new.

Where have you always wanted to visit, but haven’t made it to … yet?

Kaliningrad. My grandmother used to talk about it a lot. It used to be a bit hard to get to, I believe. Similarly, the moon.

Where is your favourite place to illustrate and/or write?

My studio space, which is a desk looking out at a local park. There’s a big shelf full of books and materials behind me for utility and privacy. On the desk are many small pots of tools, whatever I am working on and on average a third of a cat.

What’s on your TBR pile at the moment?

Is that To Be Read? – “Thinking like a Mall” by Steven Vogel, “Sweet Thames” by Matthew Kneale, “Widdershins” by Oliver Onions, “Pilgrimage” by Dorothy Millar Richardson and a whole load of art education books that I am researching for our portable art school,

What’s the best thing about being a published writer & illustrator?

People stop telling you whether you’ll ever get published and why.

What’s the strangest question you’ve ever been asked?

“Would you smile for me?” “Why, what did I miss? Did you do something nice?”

What’s your worst habit?

Using sub-sonic noises to make people feel uncomfortable at dinner parties so they all leave early.

Your favourite word(s)?

“Kindness”. Did you know not every language even has that word? I am grateful that it exists, so we can talk about it instead of just feeling something important is happening or missing and not knowing why. I wonder how many words we are missing, sometimes. I’m glad that we can make up new ones. It makes me cross when people refuse to accept new words on principle as if we already have all we need. They all got invented at some point. So did you, and I, we are actually still being invented right now. It’s a strange world when you look at it. – Kindness helps, a lot, because it’s impossible to ever understand it all. So that’s the word I like to repeat in my head when I feel tired of trying. Kindness.

Can you give us a glimpse / peek / hint at your current WIP (I could bribe you with a cake/pics of cute pugs!)?

Sure! Currently I am setting up a portable art school, you can see it at , I am drawing an onging web comic at and I am always posting work in progress to my Instagram feed, hang on, I’ll pick a nice one … here.

Did we forget anything?

You didn’t lock the front door, but that’s ok. No one noticed. Just go do it now.

Just for fun

Tea or coffee?

Coffee until I had enough of that, then tea.

Paper books or e-books?

London has limited shelf-space, so I only allow paper books if there’s a good reason for them to be in that format: to annotate and underline stuff, if it really adds to the pacing or structure of the story to be on pages, if it’s more practical that way (recipe books, manuals etc) or if they are beautifully produced, designed and/or illustrated. The rest goes on the e-reader. It’s a great medium, with so many possibilities for collaboration, learning, accessibility. I can’t wait to see what we’ll do with it once it’s fully accepted as a new medium, not just a handy way to carry thousands of books.

Cake or chocolate?

I don’t really understand what people like about cake. Chocolate is all right.

Write or type?

I carry a notebook and I have a few computers. So, both.

Poetry or prose?

It’s hard to tell sometimes, isn’t it? It’s generally meant to be prose though, unless I am really swearing.

Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff or Slytherin?

Ah, that’s a long story. Basically I was already unimpressed with the place when they failed to signpost the platform properly and I almost missed the whole ceremony. Then they brought on the hat and I said “If it’s got a talking hole, I’m not sticking my head up the other one”, and basically Hagrid ended up driving me all the way back home the same evening. We had a nice talk on the way about the art facilities in Hogwarts. Basically, what they have is a bunch of kids just wishing their imagination into existence with zero traditional craft skills. It’s  quite frightening and there was no measurable benefit to the core magical subjects. So they cut the funding right down. Anyway, I went to art college, never regretted it.

Hot or Cold? Dry

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