Kevin Sylvester

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1. When you were my age, did you read a lot? I was not a great reader when I was a kid. That’s actually only half true. I loved to read Spider-Man comic books, the backs of baseball cards and anything with images. But that also got me into reading Beatrix Potter and then the Hardy Boys and finally longer books such as the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings. Sp I loved to read, but wasn’t able to read the books more “word literate” kids were reading.

2. What was your favorite book? Spider-Man. Anything with Spider-Man. Also, the Tailor of Gloucester and then the Hobbit.

3. How do you get ideas for your books? By being a curious person.. The ideas for books often come from bits of unrelated ideas banging into each other like charged atoms. So, Neil Flambé is the Hardy Boys mashed together with celebrity chefs. MINRs is a space story mashed together with some of the bad things that happen in the real world around mining colonies.

4. What authors do you like right now? There are so many amazing authors that I love. Some are friends (such as Debbie Ohi or Jonathan Auxier) and others are people whom I only know through books. Nerd Camp was amazing for that. Dogman Dav Pilkey is amazing. I absolutely loved meeting Arree Chung and reading his amazing book Mixed: A Colorful Story.

5. Do you have any new or lesser known authors to recommend? Hmmmm.. Lesser known depends on where it is that people don’t know them. For example, I live in Canada and we have so many amazing authors here that aren’t huge in the US. Authors such as Heather Camlot (who just released her first book – Clutch – which is great!) I’ve got a new series coming out with Ted Staunton, Richard Scrimger and Lesley Livingston (link is here ). They are all amazing and successful, and everyone should read their books.

6. Do you have any advice for kids who want to be authors? Read. Read. Read. Read. Read. Read. And think about what the authors you like are actually doing. What verbs do they use? What images? What excited you about their plots? Steal that stuff for your own story.

7. Do you hear a lot from readers and what do you like? I hear from kids a lot (partially because I do a lot of school visits, and also because kids like to send me letters, and I answer them all). I like hearing why they like a boo AND why they don’t. Some things (like the ending to my book MINRs) can really make some kids angry! And that lets me know if I’m writing stories that actually mean anything to kids. The worst thing is to write a story that makes a kid shrug and go “yeah, that was okay”. Authors want readers to feel and think alongside their characters. Also, when we write a story (or draw pictures for them like I also do) we are often doing that alone in our studios. So we have no idea if there are real kids out there who will like our books.

8. If you could portal into any book, what book would it be? I want to eat at Chez Flambé and have Neil make me an amazing meal.

9. What do you use to make your illustrations? Everything and anything. I do a lot of my illustrations using pens and simple blank paper. Nothing fancy. But I do also do a lot of editing and even original drawing on my Cintiq tablet. It lets me fix mistakes really quickly and make edits (my editors always want changes) without having to start over from scratch.

10. Any advice for kids who want to be illustrators? Draw. Draw. Draw. Draw. Draw. Draw. And think about keeping your hand loose. Also, pay close attention to MATH. Knowing how shapes and spatial relations work will help you draw better stuff. The best book I’ve ever read that helped me learn those lessons? How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way.

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