Today we are chatting with Sophie Burrows, author of
Read on for more about Sophie, her book, plus a giveaway!
Meet Sophie Burrows!
Sophie Burrows an illustrator and author based in London. She earned her MA in Children’s Book Illustration at Cambridge School of Art, where she spent time nurturing a love for comics and writing and developing her own children’s books. Besides drawing, she loves live music, trashy television, cooking, and spending time outdoors. Her first picture book, Ig and Og and the Other Frog, was published in 2020.
She’s lonely and searching for connection. He’s lonely and afraid to reach out. Life in the big city means being surrounded by connections—making them, missing them, and longing for them. But is finding someone else really the answer to their problems? Crushing, the stunning debut graphic novel from Sophie Burrows, is a story told in silence; a story without words but bursting with meaning; a story about loneliness and love. Achingly beautiful, quietly defiant, and full of subtle wit and wisdom, Crushing is a unique meditation on the human condition in the twenty-first century, and a timely examination of young adult life in an age of isolation.
~ Author Chat ~
What gave you the inspiration to write & illustrate this book?
I was doing a drawing project on crowded places. I love to draw people, and so drawing crowds is great because, of course- it’s all people! I liked to imagine who all the people were, and how each of their stories crossed paths for a second in this crowded place.
So there was my setting, and drawing in London brought back lots of memories, including one of a friend of mine. Every morning, she would check the ‘rush hour crush’, which is a lonely hearts column for commuters in the Metro free paper.
She said it was just in case someone had seen her on the tube and fallen in love and she hadn’t noticed. I loved this idea of someone always hopeful for connection, despite living in a city that has a reputation for avoiding eye contact or chatting between strangers. So the seed for my main character came from that memory. It started as a short comic, and then evolved into the book you see today.
Who is your favorite character in the book?
The two main characters are very close to my heart- there are parts of me in both of them. I draw on a lot of personal experiences or observation in my stories and illustrations! Besides those two, I think the nurse is my favourite- I have had so many experiences with kind, warm nurses just like that. So many nurses seem to have this intuitive ability to understand people’s emotions and needs with few words and radiate empathy, and this character is no different.
Which came first, the title or the novel?
The book came first. I usually hate thinking of titles! This one was pretty easy though, because ‘Crushing’ perfectly encompasses all of those feelings that are there in the book- the weight of emotions, the feeling of bodies in a crowd, and of course admiring someone from afar.
What scene or image in the book are you most proud of, and why?
Lots of the big double page spreads were quite challenging to draw- I stepped outside of my comfort zone for quite a few of them. But I’m probably most proud of the ‘road rage’ scene, as I felt like I was successful in capturing that sense of chaos he’s going through, and it builds a lot of tension for what’s to come.
Thinking way back to the beginning, what’s the most important thing you’ve learned as a writer/illustrator from then to now?
I’m still learning things all of the time, which is great! I think that the most important thing that I’ve learnt is to have conviction in my own ideas; the perseverance to stick with something, and not dismiss it immediately as terrible. It might turn out to be terrible, but you have to play with it a bit to find out. That, and developing the confidence to actually then share those ideas with someone.
What do you like most about the cover of the book?
Oh man- I was spoiled by Algonquin Young Readers with the finishes- there’s beautiful cloth binding and spot gloss on the type, which I adore. I love doing hand lettering too, and the cover keeps the original hand drawn text from the Crushing comic I made. I did a few designs and when I sketched this one out I knew straight away that it was right. I like that the cover is bold, but simple- hopefully it gives you just enough information that you want to pick it up and find out more!
What new release book are you looking most forward to in 2021?
I have just got my hands on Sally Rooney’s new book ‘Beautiful World, Where are You’ and I can’t wait to read it. I’m also on catch up, as I didn’t have much time to read last year, so I am about to start two books that I bought last year and I’m yet to read- Dragman by Stephen Appleby and Mayflies by Andrew O’Hagan.
What’s up next for you?
I’m working on a non-fiction title for kids- it’s a complete passion project and I am so excited about it. I get to work in panels and a graphic novel type format too which is really a dream come true.
Which was the most difficult or emotional scene to illustrate?
Lots of the book was pretty emotional to illustrate. I was making the book during the pandemic, and most of it was created while we were still in a national lockdown. It’s not set during the pandemic at all, but there are parts that give a gentle nod to it. I got quite sentimental drawing the gig scenes, because I love live music- it’s a special kind of magic and I missed it so much during the lockdown. The hospital scenes were especially hard too, because they’re very vulnerable, and I’ve been there and felt that cascade of feelings while creating the illustrations.
Author: Sophie Burrows
Publisher: Algonquin YR
Publish Date: January 11th, 2022
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