Creator Corner: Author Maria Birmingham and illustrator Raz Latif
Welcome to Creator Corner, a blog series where we interview the creators of our recent books. For this post, we interviewed Odd Couples author Maria Birmingham and illustrator Raz Latif!
Owlkids Books: When did you know that you wanted to be an author or illustrator?
Maria Birmingham: I’ve always been an avid reader, but I didn’t consider being an author until my mid-20s. While finishing up a journalism program with a focus on writing for newspapers and magazines, I began interning for OWL Magazine. That’s when I got the chance to try writing for kids. And I felt an instant connection to it. After a few years of writing magazine features for kids, I got the opportunity to brainstorm a book for young readers. And, before I knew it, I was that book’s author! So it was a little bit of being in the right place at the right time that started me on my author journey.
Raz Latif: I’ve always wanted to draw since I was a kid. And growing up with cartoons and comics inspired me to pursue art and eventually illustration as a career!
OKB: Maria, what inspired you to write this book?
MB: In passing, I read an article about how giraffes hum at night, and I found that intriguing. So I filed the idea away in my folder of “interesting facts.” Soon after, I came across another article about a bat that digs a cave in the snow, just like a polar bear. How interesting that such different animals have this one thing in common, I thought. Then I recalled the humming giraffe, which got me thinking about the hummingbird. And that’s when my weird old brain did its thing… odd couples. A book idea was born!
OKB: Raz, what was your favorite spread to illustrate? Which spread was most challenging to illustrate?
RL: My favourite spread would have to be the pages with opossum and millipede for being so funny and stinky! The most challenging spread was the meerkat and honeybees hugging because there were so many to draw.
OKB: What do you both hope readers will take away from this book?
MB: I hope readers will be surprised by the simple ways that animals, even those that seem completely opposite, can be somewhat alike. And maybe that will help them appreciate the wonder in the world around them.
RL: I hope readers will learn interesting facts about these oddly paired animals and discover they’re much more alike than you think.
OKB: What’s a fun fact people may not know about you?
MB: Probably the most fun—or the strangest—fact about me is that I only have four senses. I was born without a sense of smell. So the stench of the opossum and millipede in Odd Couples wouldn’t bother me one bit!
RL: Just like a hummingbird and giraffe, I hum too!