A Guest Post from Graphic Novelist Raina Telgemeier

RAINA T 2010Raina Telgemeier‘s Smile is a pitch perfect graphic novel memoir about growing up… with dental problems. Its sequel, Sisters has recently been published. Set against the backdrop of a family roadtrip from California to Colorado, Sisters tells the story of two sisters, Raina and Amara, and their sometimes (okay, often) tumultuous relationship. It’s funny and honest. As Maya van Wagenen wrote in the NY Times, “I love her work, not because it is exotic or unusual, but because she writes stories we have all lived, and tells them in a way that feels uncomfortable yet transcendent.”

We at the Top Shelf are thrilled to welcome Raina as a guest blogger. Welcome, Raina!

What is the best book you’ve read so far this year?deafo

I loved El Deafo by Cece Bell! A graphic novel memoir about how Cece became deaf as a child after a brief battle with meningitis. It’s funny and smart and 100% relatable, whether you are a deaf person or a hearing person–and the artwork is adorable.

sistersIn Sisters you return to autobiography after writing fiction with Drama. What made you want to go back and further explore your own childhood?

My fans asked for more stories about my life! I started thinking about what other aspects of my childhood I could write about, and families and siblings and road trips came to mind. It didn’t take long to weave those elements together into Sisters!

Why do you write?

I’ve always liked telling stories about my life, and I have always liked to draw, but it took me a long time to realize I could put those two things together in a way other people would want to read. For many years I wrote just for myself, just catalogued the things that happened to me for my own satisfaction. Now, I’m happy I get to connect with readers through my stories!

Describe your first ever piece of writing.

The first comic I ever wrote (when I was 11) was called Brian and the Brain. It was about two twin brothers, one of mosquitowhom was super smart. It was one page long, and inspired by my favorite comic strips in the newspaper. I think I showed it to a few of my classmates, but none of them thought it was funny, and I was discouraged! It took almost 10 years before I wrote another comic I was ready to show people. That one was called Bugged, it was about my hatred for mosquitoes, and it got a much better response!

zitaI’ve read all your books. What should I read next?

El Deafo by Cece Bell, The Dumbest Idea Ever! by Jimmy Gownley, or Zita the Spacegirl by Ben Hatke.

Who are your favourite graphic novelists? Memoirists?

Some of my favorite graphic novelists are Vera Brosgol, Faith Erin Hicks, Kiyohiko Azuma, hicksand Bryan Lee O’Malley. I’ve read some fabulous graphic novel memoirs recently by Lucy Knisley, Liz Prince, and Roz Chast, although their books will appeal to readers older than mine.

Where can fans find you?
I’m goraina just about everywhere online: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and of course goraina.com!

kidsbooksYou can also see Raina this Sunday, September 28th at 7pm at Highlands United Church in Edgemont Village. For more information call 604 986 6190 or email general@kidsbooks.ca. Tickets can be purchased online at www.kidsbooks.ca

Adults are welcome! See you there!

–Patricia

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