Monday 5 October 2020

Julian at the Wedding - Q&A with Jessica Love

We are delighted, nay ecstatic, to invite Jessica Love, author-illustrator of the award-winning Julian is a Mermaid, onto Picture Book Party to tell us all about the making of her new book, Julian at the Wedding. Make sure to enter our Julian at the Wedding competition over on our WalkerBooksUK Twitter. 

The lovely cover from Julian at the Wedding

What was your inspiration behind Julian at the Wedding?

In my books I think I'm trying to create a feeling more than I'm trying to teach a lesson or explain something. The feeling I was trying to evoke in this story is that thrill of being a kid at a "grown up" party--so often magic is confined to the domain of childhood. Weddings are one of the special occasions in which adults participate in the magic too--they dress up, they drink, they dance and everybody is so happy and stays up late...I wanted to create that feeling.

"A wedding is a party for love."

Everyone is going to love Marisol! Was she inspired by anyone you know?

She is inspired by every exuberant tomboy I've ever known — every girl who felt confined in her dress and wanted to take off her trousers and climb trees and run around like a maniac. She is a tribute to that wild, little-girl spirit before all those lessons about being nice, being helpful, being pretty — are metabolized.

Julian and Marisol, and Gloria the dog

What was your writing and illustrating process for Julian at the Wedding? Did it differ to when you were writing Julian is a Mermaid?

I was able to live with Julian is a Mermaid for along time, all on my own, and so it was able to cook at its own pace. It was definitely more stressful making this story. However, my source of inspiration—New York and New Yorkers—was as rich as ever. My process involves a lot of sitting on benches and subways and drawing people.

Julian is a Mermaid, now out in paperback!

What has been your favourite moment over the past few years as Julian has made his way out into the world?

I have met so many incredible mermaids—some of them are kids, and some of them are grown—it's really difficult to pick one moment. There is an incredible kindergarten teacher in Brooklyn named Vera Ahiyya (@thetututeacher on instagram) who was the very first teacher to reach out and ask me to visit their school. It was an amazing day getting to talk to this auditorium full of kids about drawing, dress-up and imagination. Then, at the end of the year, Vera's students gifted her a tattoo of Julián with a local tattoo artist. So now Julián swims on Vera's arm.

Interior spread from Julian is a Mermaid

What has been your most recent favourite picture book?

The Oldest Student: How Mary Walker Learned to Read, by Rita Lorraine Hubbard, illustrated by Oge Mora. It's beautiful. 

Click here to download our fabulous Julian at the Wedding Activity Sheets.

Thank you to Jessica Love for joining us on Picture Book Party. Julian at the Wedding is available to buy where all good books are sold!