Katriona Chapman first came to our attention through her work at Avery Hill Publishing. She works in marketing there, and back in summer of 2015 she introduced Tillie Walden. Tillie’s first book, The End of Summer, had just been released, and Kat worked was instrumental in setting up an interview with the very young artist. But over the subsequent year, we’ve come to know Kat as more of an artist herself. She had done a lot of illustration work for children’s books, but it was her self-published comic, Katzine, that specifically caught our attention. In fact, we had discussed Katzine in a special episode from last year, where we looked at self-published comics. In one of the later issues of Katzine she mentions working on her first book, an autobiographical work centered on her travels in Mexico. Last month that book, Follow Me In, was released by Avery Hill. This is a fascinating travelogue about her experiences touring Mexico, it’s diverse regions, its many ruins, and its vibrant cultures. As you’ll hear in this interview, Kat doesn’t only write about her experiences touring in this new book, but she also explores her problematic relationship with her companion as well as her own efforts as an artist. As such, Follow Me In is much more than a travelogue. It’s an account of a young artist undergoing new experiences and using those to grow as a creator and to define her art.
Readers of Alison McCreesh’s 2015 work, Ramshackle: A Yellowknife Story, know about the draw northern climates has on her and the love she has for pioneer-like exploration. In her new book, Norths: Two Suitcases and a Stroller around the Circumpolar World, released last month from Conundrum Press, Alison ramps up those affections. It’s an account of her six-month trip to circumpolar regions and her time in four art residencies in Finland, Russia, Greenland, and Iceland, all above the 60thParallel. Traveling with her partner Patrice and her son Riel, Alison kept a diary of her experiences in the form of postcards that she sent off almost daily to friends and supporters who had agreed to back her project. The result is a unique travelogue, in sequential postcard form, of her exploration of northern climates, her experiences at the various residencies, and her attempts at trying to balance life, work, and family. Norths is an engaging hybrid text, and in this interview episode, Derek has an insightful talk with Alison about her process, her love of travel writing, and whether or not she considers the new book a work of comic art.