Rose Robbins is the author and illustrator of Me and My Sister (Eerdmans), a companion to Talking Is Not My Thing. She has a Master of Arts in children’s book illustration from the Cambridge School of Art and was a runner-up for Hachette UK’s Carmelite Prize in 2017. Rose grew up with an autistic brother, an experience that informs and shapes her writing. She serves as an ambassador with Inclusive Minds, an organization that promotes quality representation in children’s literature, and she has written and drawn extensively about neurodiversity issues.
What made you decide to become a writer and illustrator?
It is difficult to pinpoint anything in particular, but I suppose that I have always loved writing and drawing. There is something incredibly fulfilling and joyful about working on a story!
What’s a typical workday like?
I have to make a plan in advance for each day, or I just get lost in tasks and distract myself. Usually I start by going over any emails that I may need to respond to, then I will get started on drawing. I find it very difficult to write in the morning, or before I at least go outside. After lunch I will sit in my studio and work on projects, whatever needs doing really! When it gets to 4pm, I tidy up and do any chores I need to do.
Where do the ideas for your illustrations come from?
All sorts of different places: nature, conversation, childhood. Usually I have to draw for a good few hours before I have anything I like.
Do you have any advice for would-be illustrators?
If you are like me and drawing has always been more a source of joy than of income, then try to keep it that way. That is not to say that you shouldn’t make money from your art, but that if you are no longer happy with it, you have a problem.
What characteristics do illustrators need most?
The ability to spend long amounts of time alone.
Can you tell us one thing people may not know about you?
I get chronic migraines, and so I have to avoid lots of things that may trigger them. It is one of the reasons that I could never work in an office!
What is your favorite thing about being a writer/illustrator?
Children enjoying my books.
What do you do to shake the rust off or get new ideas?
First I sulk and eat lots of sweets. Then I will browse my collection of children’s books and art books for inspiration. This usually works well!
What has been the highlight of your career thus far?
When Me and My Sister was first published.
What is something you wish someone had told you when you first started illustrating?
That there can never be too much art. We are all contributors, not rivals.
Tell us about Me and My Sister. What inspired you to write and illustrate this book?
Me and My Sister is based on my childhood. I have an autistic brother, and although I am also autistic myself, the relationship I had with him was a defining part of my life growing up. I had never realized this as the case until I started facilitating a support group for adults who had also grown up with a disabled sibling. The stories that we shared in these groups were really what inspired me to share my experience, as it seemed that none of us had had a book we could relate to as children.
What’s up next for you?
More books! I’m afraid I will never stop.
Rose lives in Nottingham, UK. Follow her on Instagram @roserobbinsuk or visit her website at www.roserobbins.co.uk
Me and My Sister