The Author Spotlight Series shines a light on writers creating heartfelt and original work across genres, giving them an opportunity to talk about their books and why they do what they do.
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“Ruth Ohi is the illustrator of over 60 books, 21 of which she is also the author. Her most recent include the Fox and Squirrel Series and 2019’s No Help Wanted! . Ruth is excited about illustrating Summer 2020’s Friends for Real (by Ted Staunton/ Scholastic Canada). Ruth is a graduate of the Ontario College of Art and lives in Toronto, Canada. Visit Ruth at www.RuthOhi.com. You can also find Ruth on Twitter: @Ruth_Ohi , Instagram: @RuthOhi and Facebook: @RuthOhi”
When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
My first author/illustrated books weren’t published until after I had kids! You can find them on my website www.RuthOhi.com. Life with my young family inspired the stories and paintings for the “Chicken,Pig,Cow” series (Annick Press) and “Fox and Squirrel”series (Scholastic Canada). One of my goals when engaging kids through in person or virtual visits is to show them that stories can come from their own lives. That their own stories matter.
Do you remember the first thing you ever wrote?
Unfortunately, no, but I’m sure it had a hopeful ending since I loved those stories best when little.
How did you develop your skills?
As an illustrator I graduated from the Ontario College of Art & Design. Joining communities like The Canadian Children’s Book Centre, The Writers’ Union of Canada, CANSCAIP & SCBWI gave me opportunities to hone and learn more about the craft from listening to professionals in the field.
Who are some of your biggest literary influences? Do you have a favourite book/author?
That’s the beginning of a great conversation! Many can be found in the above organizations’ membership lists. By joining writing/illustration communities I got to meet many of the creators that I admired -it was and still is quite incredible.
How would you describe your work?
I hope to create engaging picture books for children that make them want to find and read more books, not even necessarily my own. One of my absolute favourite parts of my work is meeting readers whether in person or online through library & school presentations.
What’s your writing process like?
From working full time while raising kids, I’ve learned to make the most of whatever work moments I have no matter how brief and interrupted. The process varies, but all my ideas come from scribbles and notes when inspired. Sometimes it’s just a sketch or a few written words. Switching between illustration and writing helps me keep fresh. I work on at least a dozen ideas at once. If I hit a wall with one, I move onto another.
Tell us about your most recent book.
My most recent book as illustrator is Friends for Real by author Ted Staunton (published by Scholastic Canada). It’s a cozy read (and kids seem to enjoy stories like that now) about lost and found friends. It was a wonderful chance to illustrate the real and fantastical in a child’s life. You can find samples of the book HERE.
What are you working on now/next?
A bunch of projects I’m excited about including final art for an author/illustrated picture book for Scholastic Canada called Choose Kindness due to be released in 2021.
Ruth Ohi will appear at The Summer Spectacular (sponsored by Word On The Street) August 17th-28th