I Am Loved: Interview with Ashley Bryan and Nikki Giovanni

I am quite honored to have two literary individuals who I admire dearly on my blog today…. Ashley Bryan and Nikki Giovanni, who have recently collaborated on I Am Loved.

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Thank you for taking the time to join me here at Mile High Reading!   

Ashley: Thank you!

Tell us a little bit about I Am Loved from your perspective.

Nikki: I love the morning light.  When I was younger I liked to write at night because the dog and my son were asleep and the house was quiet.  My father had a stroke and we moved back home to help my mother so my habits changed.  Now that everyone is grown or has transitioned, I am back to my lonely habits.

Ashley: The very title lifts the spirit. Anyone who sends the book to anyone else is saying something from the heart, to the heart. It’s a year-round Valentine!

Nikki, can you tell us a little bit about your writing process? 

Nikki: I think the most important thing is to observe.  I watch.  And reading is great.  I never seem to have enough time to read.  Even if it’s no more than the comics I read a bit of something everyday.

Ashley, can you tell us a little bit about your illustration process?

Ashley: First I read the text of the poem or story and absorb it.  Then I start sketching compositional ideas that the words provoke. And then I choose a composition, and another world of color enters it now, so I can make a complete painting to accompany the words.

Have you always been into writing / illustrating?

Nikki: I love images so I’ve always loved words.  I had the joy recently of challenging my class to how a word was formed and became a part of our everyday use.  They were surprised at how they used words that they had no idea where they came from or why we use them.  I would have loved to paint with paints but I had no talent.  I could paint what I saw with words, though and that gave me something to share.

Ashley: Yes, no question about that! From babyhood on!

What’s the most exciting part of your job?

Nikki:  Watching young people read and respond to my work.

Ashley: The challenge to create, which is universal.

What inspires your creativity?

Nikki:  I actually like people and cheer for our possibilities.  I am a space freak so the future means a lot to me.  I love that Ashley put a mirror on the last page so everyone could see Yes:  I Am Loved.  And that is the future.

Ashley: The joyous response of others to my work, my creations, is what inspires my creativity.

What is one thing that readers don’t know about you, that only you could tell us?

Nikki:  I can’t dance.  I can sing but I can’t carry a tune.  That doesn’t bother me so much as I can’t dance.

Ashley: I love gummies! Sour Patch Kids especially (he says with a great laugh)!

If you weren’t writing/illustrating books, what do you think you’d be doing?

Nikki: I would probably be a chef and if I won a big lottery I’d create a create restaurant.

Ashley: I’d become an inventor of the book form if it weren’t existing, because I can’t imagine ever doing anything but writing and painting. So if there was no book form in existence to put writing and art into, I’d invent that.

What can readers expect from you in the future?

Nikki: I am working on a book with my friend Kaye Graham, The Wednesday Club, in which the mothers of sons get to discuss children books. We’ve see a couple of men talk about books that affected them, but Kaye and I are mothers and we thought it would be interesting to see how the mothers looked at the same subject.

Ashley: Ongoing work with creating books that will engage the children especially, but for all ages.

Anything else you’d like to share with readers of this blog?

Nikki:  Don’t smoke.  No joke. You can’t go into space if you smoke because it changes how you can return to Earth.

Ashley: That they will find ways of creating – don’t let a day go by without creating something.  Whether with an instrument or writing or painting or other creative activity – but create every day!

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