Bookroo Interview With Ciara Gavin
One of the books we were thrilled to include in our Bookroo picture book boxes this month is Bear Likes Jam, by Ciara Gavin. Some of you may recognize the charming character Bear from Room for Bear, a Bookroo favorite! In Bear Likes Jam, Bear is back and loving his recent discovery: delicious jam. He loves jam so much, in fact, that eating anything else becomes very unexciting until the ducks turn it into a game!
We’re excited to share an interview we did with the books author and illustrator, Ciara Gavin. Ciara lives and works in Dublin, Ireland. She studied at the National College of Art and Design in Dublin. She has experienced exciting success with her work, including having her work exhibited at the National Museum of Decorative Arts and History. Ciara is mother to one son and has written and illustrated four children’s books.
Bookroo: So we’re curious–does Bear’s love for jam stem from your own or your son’s love for jam? Or was it just a fun idea that came to you?
Ciara: We both love jam. I decided to collect my empty jam jars and use them as spice jars and I was a little shocked at how many I collected in a short space of time so that alerted me to our out of control jam habit.
Also, my son has always been a fussy eater and getting him to try new and healthy foods was a real preoccupation for a time. I tried to come up with fun ways to make new foods less daunting. Some of the tricks I tried are the same as what the ducks try to encourage Bear’s healthy eating.
Bookroo: What is your favorite thing about Bear?
Ciara: My favorite thing about Bear is his sweet and gentle nature and how much he loves his duck family.
Bookroo: Where do you find ideas for new story ideas?
Ciara: I get ideas from everywhere - from my own experiences as a child to watching my son grow up. It’s the little things he says or the special way a child sees and interprets their world that gives me inspiration.
Bookroo: Do you ever test out story ideas on your son?
Ciara: He is always the first person I read a new story to. I have a trick that I use, when he’s doing something else, I’ll read out a story half way to him and then stop and if he doesn’t look up and ask ‘and then what happens?’ I’ll know I need to work on it some more.
Bookroo: How does being a mother influence your work as a children’s book author and illustrator?
Ciara: Becoming a mother is really the reason I began to make picture books. When my son was little I was always making up stories for him and drawing them out and the characters really became a part of our lives. I wanted to be able to share our stories with other children and it felt like a very natural choice to try my hand at making picture books.
Bookroo: Do you and your son have a regular time to read together?
Ciara: My son is 9 now so is at an age where he can choose to read by himself but we have still maintained our tradition of reading together in the evenings. It is honestly my favourite part of the day. I make a point of including picture books now and then, as I firmly believe they are for all age groups and an older child will simply have a different level of appreciation.
Bookroo: How do you feel when you hold in your hands for the first time one of your books as a finished product?
Ciara: It’s a strange feeling, I don’t think I’ve really gotten used to that. I think the most surreal part is when I hear someone talking about one of my characters or a scene from the book and I think how strange that that thought used to only exist inside my head and now it’s out there in the world being shared with children in countries I’ve never even been to. That truly staggers me and I feel really humbled and honoured by that.
Bookroo: What does a regular day look like for you, and do you have a favorite time of day to work?
Ciara: Mornings are my favourite time to work, I feel energized and organized for a few hours everyday and then I slowly wilt toward bedtime. Because I am a single parent, my hours are not always consistent and I work around my son’s routine so I mainly work while my son is at school and then again late in the evenings when he goes to bed.
Bookroo: Outside of writing and illustrating, what hobbies or activities do you enjoy?
Ciara: Spending time with friends and family is where my priorities are when I’m not working and I try to get outdoors in nature and go walking as often as possible.
Bookroo: We’re a community of books lovers–do you have any upcoming books you can tell us about?
Ciara: My fourth title, Randal the Elephant is out now. It’s about a little otter named Randal, who dreams about becoming an elephant. I wrote this book to encourage children not to place boundaries and restrictions on their dreams or what they think they can achieve.
We really appreciate the opportunity to learn more about Ciara and her work as an author and illustrator. You can learn more about her and see more of her work on her website.
(All images courtesy of Ciara Gavin)