Raina Telgemeier is the author and illustrator of the graphic novel, Drama, as well as two graphic memoirs: Smile, which won an Eisner Award for Best Publication for Teens, and Sisters, which won the Eisner for Best Writer/Artist in 2015. Her latest graphic novel, Ghosts, was recently published by Scholastic.
Which historical period do you wish you'd lived through?
I don't have one period picked out, but I'd like to meet Walt Disney. See the Beatles perform. Watch the moon landing. Shake Jackie Robinson's hand. Attend a world's fair. Paint with Henri Matisse. Talk with Maya Angelou. Cook dinner with Julia Child. Can I just have a time machine? That would be cool.
What scares you as a writer?
The thought of spending years working on something that's a pure expression of your soul, laid bare on the page, and readers either don't get it or don't care.
What's a book every 10-year-old should read?
Calvin and Hobbes, any collected volume. It's imaginative and wordy and thoughtful. Calvin is a real terror, but so much of that comes from his frustration with humanity. He's balanced out by Hobbes, as empathic a character as you will find anywhere on the printed page. The comic strip is a sharp and poignant examination of the human condition, and it's also hilarious.
Which book got you through the darkest period of your life?
I was living in New York and reading the fourth Harry Potter book when Sept. 11 happened. The parallels between what was going on in real life and in the book were terrifying. And the emotional roller coaster of books five, six and seven were thrilling and so nerve-racking, because it felt like everything Harry had to lose, I – and everyone – had to lose, too. But of course: love won. The heroes won. The catharsis of finishing book seven, and feeling like maybe everything really was going to be okay, was one of the pivotal reading experiences in my life.
What's your favourite bookstore in the world, and why?
Kidsbooks, in Vancouver. Years before graphic novels really "hit" in the States, where I live, I came up to British Columbia for an event, and felt like a bona fide rock star. Kidsbooks takes the time to introduce books to their customers in a way that inspires genuine, unabashed enthusiasm. My home country has caught on to graphic novels being awesome, but I still have some of my biggest and best events ever at Kidsbooks! The staff is second to none. The store is absolutely beautiful. And they have really amazing window displays, too …