Creator Corner: The Weird Sisters author Mark David Smith and illustrator Kari Rust

Welcome to Creator Corner! Each month we interview the creators of one of our recent books. This month, we interviewed The Weird Sisters Detective Agency series author Mark David Smith and illustrator Kari Rust.

Owlkids Books: Mark, when did you know that you wanted to be an author?

Mark David Smith: I recently learned that the NBA will not be giving me a contract as a professional basketball player. My application for NASA astronaut was also rejected. I had planned, as a backup, to use a time machine to travel back to the days of knights and dragons, but yesterday I learned that time machines aren’t actually real—and I’m starting to have my doubts about dragons, too. I was disappointed by all of these setbacks and have decided instead to be a children’s author. So, to answer your question…yesterday?

OKB: Kari, when did you know that you wanted to be an illustrator?

Kari Rust: I was interested in being an artist as a kid, and I was never discouraged from pursuing this career even after discovering I had once drawn an elephant without a trunk! In art school, I was drawn to animation and I worked as an animator for many years. I knew I wanted to be an illustrator in particular when I was raising my kids and reading a lot of picture books. I suppose I what I really like is story-telling with art.

OKB: Mark, what are your favorite things to write about?

MDS: I like writing about things that excite me or make me laugh. I’m not too good with sad stories, to be honest. But my own life is full of so many daily routines—take out the garbage, wash the dishes, put away my laundry, shave the cat—that writing something funny or exciting breaks up the monotony. (Okay one of the tasks I listed isn’t actually a routine; who takes the garbage out every day?)

OKB: What inspired you to write this series?

MDS: Was I “inspired” to write this series? I think a better way to put it is that I was allowed to write it. I carry with me all the time a love of words and the silly ways people sometimes use them. I also love Shakespeare, and especially the three weird sisters from Macbeth. And when Owlkids agreed to let me write about them, I wasn’t going to say no!

OKB: Which spread did you most enjoy illustrating and why?

KR: I think I most enjoyed illustrating the spread in which the sisters and Jessica are leaving Ms. Oh’s house. It was fun to draw them shuffling out with all the unusual pets.

OKB: Which part was the most challenging to illustrate and why?

KR: The most challenging illustration was probably the one at the beginning of Chapter 13 in which the characters are chasing the goat and the lawn mower. It started out simple, but we kept adding characters to the situation and it became difficult to figure out where to put everyone and have them all fit!

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

KR: I hope the book encourages young readers to start reading chapter books on their own or with their families. There is a lot of playful language, and a lot of “picture breaks,” which would have made reading fun for me as a child.

MDS: I hope readers have fun with the characters and the stories. Reading should be fun! If you’re not having fun reading, you just picked the wrong book. Get another—there are plenty to choose from! Of course, on a deeper level, I hope readers will see themselves in the characters; we’re all a little weird, aren’t we? But that just means we’ve got unique qualities to share with the world. Embrace what makes you unique, and allow others the space to share their uniqueness, too!

OKB: What’s a fun fact people may not know about you?

MDS: That depends. You see, my readers may not know that I am a public-school teacher (I teach reading and writing to high school students). But my students usually don’t know that I’m a children’s writer. Having two jobs is like having a secret identity. It’s like I’m Bruce Wayne during the day, and Batman at night—if Bruce Wayne wore khaki pants and running shoes, and Batman didn’t have a costume, but was really just Bruce Wayne looking at his reflection and saying, “I’m Batman.” Is that a fun fact? Now that I read it back to myself, it sounds more like a “concerning” fact. I should probably talk to somebody about that.

KR: I like spiders and snakes quite a bit, but I have a hard time warming up to slugs.


Creator Corner: Author Mark David Smith and Illustrator Kari Rust
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