Colleen AF Venable

Colleen AF Venable grew up in the trees of Walden, New York….well, not very high up the trees, since she always got scared, but she did carve her name in a lot of low hanging boughs. Colleen had an older sister, a dog, a cat, a million fish, and an imaginary pet hamster named, yup you guessed it, Hamisher. Why have an imaginary friend when you can have an imaginary friend that can fit in your pocket! Colleen went to Wagner College and double majored in English and Studio Art, winning the award of “biggest dork” (aka first in her class) and writing plays which went on to be produced Off-Off-Broadway. Her whole life she always loved reading comics—Calvin and Hobbes, The Far Side, and she wore out her copy of the Muppets: Short, Green and Handsome—but it wasn’t until she started to get into webcomics that she also fell in love with the idea of writing comics. Now Colleen lives in New York City and her day job is designing graphic novels for First Second Books while her night job is writing graphic novels about a not-so-imaginary-anymore hyperactive hamster named Hamisher. She thinks the world is a very lovely place.

Interview

What was your favorite book when you were a child?

It was my favorite book then and it still is now: The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin. I’ve re-read it nearly 100 times and can never get out how perfectly the mystery is crafted and the amazing cast of characters. Turtle is one of the greatest shin-kicking, mystery-solving heroines of all time.

What’s your favorite line from a book?

"Do you know that you are very strong?"
—Jon Stone, The Monster at the End of This Book

Who are your top three favorite authors or illustrators?

M. T. Anderson, Roald Dahl, Bryan Lee O’Malley

Why did you want to become an author or illustrator?

I always loved telling stories. (Granted when I was little they were elaborate excuses in an effort to cover up the bad thing I had just done, but they were still stories.) My whole life I’ve wanted to write funny kid’s books, to make kids feel that sense of excitement and giddiness I always felt when reading Dahl’s work. I was raised by wonderful creative parents on a healthy diet of silliness and I know there’s no better feeling than laughing so hard that food flies out of your nose. I’d like to share that feeling with the world.

Do you have any advice for future authors or illustrators?

Read everything you can get your hands on and you’ll learn what makes a book the sort that will not only knock your socks off but will send them flying across a room.