Creator Corner: Becoming Bionic author Heather Camlot and illustrator Victor Wong
Welcome to Creator Corner! Each month, we interview the creators of one of our recent books. This month, we interviewed Becoming Bionic and Other Ways Science Is Making us Super author Heather Camlot and illustrator Victor Wong.
Owlkids Books: Heather, when did you know that you wanted to be an author?
Heather Camlot: I always loved making up stories. I dreamed of writing books, TV shows and movies. But the moment I made the decision to actually try was after reading a wonderful middle-grade book called Okay For Now by Gary D. Schmidt, as an adult and thinking, “I love this. This is what I want to do!”
OKB: Victor, when did you know that you wanted to be an illustrator?
Victor Wong: I knew I wanted to explore the idea of being an illustrator at an early age, probably around 6 or 7. My childhood had a lot of comic books from Marvel and DC, as well as comic books my dad had collected back when he used to live in Hong Kong. I don’t think my dad was surprised when I started becoming more and more interested in pursuing this path as I grew older.
OKB: Heather, what are your favorite things to write about?
HC: I like to write about history, social justice, sports, and fascinating people and events. I’m pretty much open to anything that makes me think “wow!”
OKB: What inspired you to write this book?
HC: I used to translate French articles for OWL magazine from Les Débrouillards, and a lot of those articles were these incredible science stories, like the building of the “invisible” Tower Infinity in South Korea, and the flying feats of Yves “Jetman” Rossy. I kept a folder of these and other “super” scientific advances as I came across them online, and in the newspaper, and eventually gathered them together for Becoming Bionic (with a lot of history thrown in of course!)
OKB: Victor, which spread did you most enjoy illustrating and why?
VW: I would say pages 42 and 43 have my favorite illustration in the book. Having so many elements that need to go together really created a fun challenge. The spread talks about psychological manipulation, hypnotism, hypnotherapy, telekinesis and being able to come up with an illustration that brought all those elements together was a lot of fun!
OKB: Which spread was the most challenging to illustrate and why?
VW: The most challenging spread for me would be the last one on pages 52 and 53. You want to end the book on something awesome that sticks with the reader but also to bring everything from the rest of the book together. It’s a lot of pressure!
OKB: What do you hope readers will take away from this book?
VW: Marvel and DC have given us some amazing performances on screen showing off what characters can do with these fantastic superpowers. While we don’t have people with those abilities in real life, I hope that readers can [take] away an appreciation of how far we’ve come with science and technology and where we’re potentially headed!
HC: I hope readers realize just how far science has come and that we are already living in a world with superhero-like powers. We can run faster because of our hi-tech sneakers, we can see through solid objects because of x-ray machines, we can live longer because of medical breakthroughs. We may not fly like Shazam or regrow limbs like Deadpool, but researchers are working [on] it. Who knows what the next generation will be able to do. The question is, will we take these potential powers too far?
OKB: What’s a fun fact people may not know about you?
HC: I adore the animated superhero series WordGirl. WordGirl has the power of a super-huge vocabulary on her side, but the villains she defeats are all so charmingly ridiculous—Chuck the Evil Sandwich-Making Guy, Lady Redundant Woman, and my personal favorite, Dr. Two Brains. The show was on PBS when my kids were young; we learned plenty of new words and we laughed/giggled/chuckled a lot.
VW: I’m a firefighter as well, and we get to see a lot of cool technology that helps us save lives on the job. Our thermal cameras help us see through smoke, we have our Jaws of Life that can cut through metal or lift cars, and our gear is made of materials that can withstand temperatures up to 1600 degrees Fahrenheit! Makes us feel like superheroes sometimes!