Space, Love, and Adventure: Sara Interviews Author and Graphic Novelist Tillie Walden

Tillie Walden is a marvelous graphic novelist who writes about growing up, falling in love, being queer, and, most recently, the space-time continuum.

You know. The usual.

We were able to host her last year for Spinninga growing-up story about ice skating, coming of age, and coming out. She's since moved to Los Angeles but is graciously visiting us for her incredible new graphic novel, On A SunbeamOAS is a vibrant, beautifully illustrated story of a girl who crosses space and time to find her long-lost love. It is not to be missed. Tillie visits us on October 3rd to chat about OAS and sign copies, but in the meantime, take a look below to learn a little more. 

Sara: Last time you came to Houston, you were a resident of Texas. Much of your last book, Spinning, was about your move to Texas as a young teen and finding your place there. Now, in adulthood, and in a different field…what has the move to LA been like? What have you been up to in the past year?

Tillie Walden: Life has been wild! Very busy and very strange. I like LA a lot but it’s definitely been an adjustment. The past year has been chock full of drawing and traveling and moving. A little more than I could handle, honestly. Things settled down for a bit, but now On a Sunbeam is coming out AND I’m back at it all again. Sigh.

SB: For folks who don’t know, On A Sunbeam was originally serialized as a webcomic. What did you think when you first saw it as a book? Can you talk about sharing your work digitally vs. as a finished physical book/product?

TW: Sharing work digitally is great because it’s free. That’s my favorite part. It can reach people and there is no barrier. As much as I adore seeing my work in print, the price tag attached to it will always leave some people out. But it was very exciting to see the artwork in the book after seeing it on a screen for so long. I love how all the colors turned out.

SB: I run a literary project in Houston devoted to the intersections of queerness and science fiction/speculative fiction. I was thrilled to see that your new book is BOTH of these things! I am constantly pushing the idea that the two themes have so much in common. I know you’ve moved into the surreal in the past — what is it about space travel, and science fiction, that drew you in? What moved you to those themes for this story in particular — a love story?

TW: That’s so cool! I love the intersection of queers and space. I was drawn to it initially because it felt like a genre so often led by really boring straight white men. And to me, space is about potential. It’s limitless, which makes me feel such a craving for exploration and adventure. And I’ve always felt that human moments - relationships and love, loss and friendship, go so well when paired with the fantastic.

SB: Can you talk about your use of color in your graphic novels? A City Inside was very yellow, Spinning had a distinct purple spread, and On A Sunbeam has all these glorious rich turquoise, orange, and purple hues.

TW: OAS has much richer colors! Because it’s a much happier book, haha. OAS was really a chance for me to explore my own coloring skills. Every chapter I challenged myself to take the color a little bit further, and I think people can tell when they read through. Also, I wanted the color to reflect the emotions of the characters at the time. And, not gonna lie, I just really like orange.

SB: You have a lot of fans who are young adults (and at Brazos, we shelve your books in YA mostly), but also a lot of adult fans. When you are writing, who do you have in mind as the reader?

TW: I can’t think of the reader while I work. Because then I’m not only managing my own expectations, I’m managing theirs. I have to cut myself off from who the audience might be, and then deal with it when the story has been told. My hope is that by doing this the work will be accessible to anybody. And it keeps me sane!

SB: For people who are going to read and love On a Sunbeam (and I count myself among these folks), what other books would you recommend?

TW: These don’t necessarily fall in the same category, but they’re such good books that I must recommend them. The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang is a must read, as is Be Prepared by Vera Brosgol.

SB: If you could collaborate with any other author or writer on a project, who would you choose? What form would the project take?

TW: EASY. I want to illustrate anything that Tana French writes. I fucking love her.

SB: What are you working on now?

TW: Two new books! Both of which have not been announced, so that is all I can say. :)

We host Tillie this Wednesday at 7pm, in conversation with much-lauded sci fi and fantasy author Martha Wells and in partnership with Writers in the Schools. Join us!

On a Sunbeam By Tillie Walden Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250178138
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: First Second - October 2nd, 2018

Article Type Terms: