Welcome to the last stop on the SPINNING Blog Tour! We are thrilled to host multi-talented author Tillie Walden on the blog today. She has promised five questions, but we somehow got her to answer six! ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
If you haven’t yet picked up Spinning (what are you waiting for? This striking graphic novel released on September 12th!), it’s Tillie’s autobiographical account of her youth spent training and competing in figure skating. After moving to Texas, Tillie begins to lose interest in the sport, to question the stifling world of figure skating, its rules and expectations of her as a deeply closeted lesbian. In the midst of this internal transformation, she also meets a girl, it doesn’t work out and she decides to come out to those around her to rather mixed reviews. Told in tiny, languid snippets of Tillie’s life, this gorgeously and starkly illustrated graphic novel is highly recommended for fans character driven graphic novels.
ABOUT THE BOOK
Figure skating was Tillie Walden’s life. She woke before dawn for morning lessons, went straight to group practice after school, and spent weekends competing in glitter and tights. It was a central piece of her identity, her safe haven from the stress of school, bullies, and family. But as Tillie’s interests evolve, from her growing passion for art to a first love realized with a new girlfriend, she begins to question how the close-minded world of figure skating fits in.
Poignant and captivating, this powerful graphic memoir captures what it’s like to come of age, come out, and come to terms with leaving behind everything you used to know.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Tillie Walden is a two-time Ignatz Award–winning cartoonist from Austin, Texas. Born in 1996, she is a recent graduate from the Center for Cartoon Studies, a comics school in Vermont. Her comics include The End of Summer and I Love This Part, an Eisner Award nominee. tilliewalden.com
The afterward very much made it seem like this is a story you wanted to tell. What inspired you to tell Spinning?
When I was in school at the Center for Cartoon Studies in Vermont I wanted to make a short comic about skating for my end of year project. And I froze (pun intended.) I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t draw myself skating, and that was the moment I realized I had to tell this story. I’m one of those people where if you tell me I can’t do something then I immediately go and do it. So I made the book to find out why I couldn’t draw myself skating.
Spinning is longer than most graphic novels I have read and that interests me in your writing process. Could you describe the process from concept to graphic novel? How did it differ from other graphic novels you’ve worked on?
This book was different but that was mostly because it was memoir and I couldn’t just make stuff up while I drew, haha. I started by doing free writing, and from there I chose scenes that I had written and started drawing them. I did this until I had a skeleton of a story. Then I just added and built transitions until it was a full narrative. Then my editor edited the crap out of it, and I adjusted and it found its final form. I moved into drawing pretty quickly, but that’s because I’m too lazy to script.
The color palette for the book was quite stark although I noticed similar color structures recurring regularly in your work. What lead you to chose this particular color scheme for this graphic novel? How do you feel it enhances and helps tell this particular story?
The color works for this story because it echoes my feelings. My memories of skating are very stark and cold. And the purple really brought that out. A lot of my memories also have a lot of jarring moments; spotlights in my eyes, the booming sound of my name being announced to come on the ice next. And the yellow brought out those sharper aspects of my memory. And I knew I wouldn’t need any more color after I decided on those two.
Much of your writing is so raw and very intimate. I know you stated in your afterward that you didn’t know you had set out to write the story that was told, but was some of it drawn from personal journals or was it all recall?
It was almost all recall. Well, yeah so it was all recall I think. I have a journal, but I didn’t go anywhere near it. I wanted the art to really echo my memories, and not anything concrete. I think that by doing that it added a certain dreaminess to the story and art, which I really like. I felt like using photos or journals would have distilled the scenes to experiences, and I wanted the scenes to about the emotion.
What tips do you have for girls pursuing writing and artistic careers?
Write and draw what you enjoy. The process of creating should be fun, first and foremost. Don’t worry about accuracy or pleasing others, worry about making the process something you can get excited about. If you want a future in writing or art, then you have to find a way to get joy out of the process. That joy will help you find your way.
What keeps you inspired and motivated as you write and create your stories?
Books. I love Tana French, she’s my favorite writer of all time and space, and her books get me so revved up. TV gets my pumped too. After watching Big Little Lies I was super motivated to draw. Really, anything expect comics gets me excited. I find inspiration in spaces outside of my own craft. I think that’s because I spend ALL DAY with comics, and to stay motivated I need to look at things that are fresh to me.
FOLLOW THE BLOG TOUR
We may be the last stop, but be sure to check out the rest of the blog tour! Tillie will be answering five questions at each stop on the blog tour — follow along to learn about her creative process, about what’s involved in competitive ice skating,
9/11 — Tales of the Ravenous Reader
9/12 — Love is Not a Triangle
9/13 — The Book Rat
9/14 — YA Bibliophile
9/15 — Fiktshun
9/18 — The Adventures of Cecelia Bedelia
9/19 — Book Crushin’
9/20 — YA Wednesdays