Creator Corner: In Conversation with Naseem Hrab and Kelly Collier

Welcome to Creator Corner, a blog series where we interview the creators of our recent books!

Naseem Hrab and Kelly Collier are the author and illustrator of the Otis & Peanut series. In this interview, Naseem and Kelly discuss their new book Otis & Peanut Forever and Ever, and the joys and challenges of making books. This is their second book in the Otis & Peanut series, forthcoming April 15, 2024!

Naseem Hrab and Kelly Collier, in conversation:

Kelly Collier: So, what are Otis and Peanut up to this sequel?

Naseem Hrab: Otis & Peanut Forever and Ever is a celebration of memories. In this book, we follow the duo as they learn that there’s always a good reason to eat cake, and we finally learn who Pearl is. The stories have a lot of sweetness, but also a lot of sadness.

KC: Did you always envision Otis & Peanut as a series?

NH: Yes, when the characters first visited me – in my imagination!!! – it felt like they would bring me many stories!

NH: What are the benefits of illustrating a series? What are the challenges?

KC: The benefit is that, by the second book, you already have the characters and world established, so developing those parts take less time. But it can also feel like you lose a bit of the energy because you know how everything will look.

NH: These graphic novels are kind of long! (Sorry!) How much time does it take you to illustrate each one and do you listen to anything as you illustrate?

KC: From roughs to final artwork, it takes me anywhere from two to four months to finish all 80 pages. I don’t listen to anything while I work on the roughs because I need to concentrate on the stories and imagine what’s happening, but when I work on the final artwork, I listen to true crime podcasts.

KC: To be a good writer, they say you need to be able to “kill your darlings.” Are there any parts of the stories that ended up on the cutting room floor?

NH: You know, I genuinely don’t remember. Whenever you’re asked to edit something out it feels so painful in the moment, but I guess this means I should always listen to my editor because apparently that pain eventually goes away!

KC: Thank you so much for creating such wonderful characters, Naseem.

NH: Thank YOU, Kelly, for making them come alive on the page!!!



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