Creator Corner: Author Mark David Smith and Illustrator Kari Rust

Welcome to Creator Corner, a blog series where we interview the creators of our recent books. For this post, we interviewed The Weird Sisters: A Coop, Some Goop, and a Sandwich author Mark David Smith and illustrator Kari Rust. This third instalment in The Weird Sisters Series is publishing April 15, 2024!

Owlkids Books: Mark, what inspired the Weird Sisters Detective Agency series?

Mark David Smith: I love the plays of Shakespeare, and my favorite play is Macbeth, and my favorite characters in Macbeth are the three witches. They don’t have names—they’re just called First, Second, and Third Witch. I’m glad. If he’d called them One, Two, and Three, things could have been confusing!

Macbeth: “Which one are you?”

Witch One: “Yes.”

Macbeth: “Yes, what?”

Witch One: “Witch One am I.”

Macbeth: “That’s what I said. Which one are you?”

Witch One: “Correct again!”

Anyway, that’s why I wanted to give them more serious names, like Glubbifer, Hildegurp, and Yuckmina. And I also wanted to know what they would think of our world. The people of Covenly think the witches are weird, but my guess is that the sisters think we’re pretty weird too!

Owlkids Books: Kari, what (or who) inspired your character designs for Hildegurp, Glubbifer, and Yuckmina?

Kari Rust: It was actually quite easy to visualize the characters because of the clear descriptions in Mark’s first chapter. Mark also sent me a drawing of what he had in mind for Glubbifer—it was a funny-looking but enlightening image. I looked at pictures of really old people because I thought, “maybe those sisters have been around for a looonng time”. In some ways, I wanted them to look like classic Halloween witches, but in other ways I thought they should have a fresh take on style when it came to hair and costumes, with some frills and ruffles, and some comfy old sweaters.

OKB: Mark, what did you most enjoy about writing this series? What was the most challenging part of the process?

MDS: There are two things I really like about these books.

First, I like to sneak in quotes from actual Shakespeare plays into the text, which means I get to read one of the plays and imagine all the silly ways that Shakespeare’s words could be misunderstood, or could become reality for the characters in silly ways. Book One in the series, The Weird Sisters: A Note, a Goat, and a Casserole, has quotes from Macbeth. Book Two, The Weird Sisters: A Robin, a Ribbon, and a Lawn Mower, includes quotes from A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and this third book includes quotes from Hamlet. If you’ve read the plays, it might be fun to see if you can find the hidden quotes. (I’ll give you a hint for one: in Macbeth, the witches are discussing when they will meet Macbeth, and Second Witch answers, “When the Hurly-burly’s done.” See if you can find it in Book One!)

The second thing I like is also the most challenging. I always start a book with something I find funny, perhaps just a single joke. Then I try to figure out how to create a plot to support that joke…which of course leads to more jokes. Finding a way to tie all those jokes together in a way that makes sense—and so readers will think I meant to do that—feels great!

OKB: Kari, what was the most enjoyable part of illustrating this book?

KR: The most enjoyable part of illustrating the series was drawing the sisters and their magic—they are so lively and full of good-natured mischief. I also loved the chickens!

The most challenging part was figuring out all the parts of the fairgrounds. I had Mark send me a rough map of his imaginary fair it so that I could organize the various booths in a way that worked with the crazy capers that unfold in the story. Another challenge was how to fit the ever-growing cast of characters into the illustrations.

OKB: What do you hope readers take away from the series?

MDS: I hope readers have fun. I hope they giggle. I hope they laugh. I hope they cackle with delight. (Warning: If you cackle, you may actually be a Weird Sister or Brother yourself, and may want to get checked out by an expert.)

KR: I hope that readers enjoy the wordplay in the series, and that the playful writing inspires them to read and write more stories. I also hope that the illustrations help readers feel immersed in the world of the stories.

OKB: This mystery series is full of magic! If you could cast one spell with the Weird Sisters’ magic, what would it be?

MDS: Oh, that’s easy! My wish would be to write more Weird Sisters books, of course! But if I couldn’t have that wish, then I guess I would settle for Glubbifer’s magic hat. Inside that hat she can find anything, so I just bet she’d have more Weird Sisters books in there! (But it would probably take a while to find them!)

KR: If I could use the Weird Sisters’ magic to cast a spell, I would turn myself into a bat for a day so I could fly around at night with a colony of bat friends.


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