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13 Ways of Looking at a Book Fair Author: Fiona Moodie

Fynbos FairiesFiona Moodie, illustrator of the Umuzi title Fynbosfeetjies / Fynbos Fairies (created in collaboration with Antjie Krog, who wrote the rhymes) will appear on the Random House-Umuzi programme at the Cape Town Book Fair, Sunday 17 June, 16h00 at the Random House-Umuzi stand (H10).

We asked her thirteen questions about her illustrating life.

Tune into the Random House-Umuzi blog each day during the run up to the Book Fair on 16 June to see a different author’s answers to these questions!

1. What is the first book you remember reading?

Finn Family Moomintroll by Tove Jansson, first published in English 1950. I think she is one of the greatest and most mysterious writers for children and she did her own lovely illustrations too.

2. What are you reading at the moment?

A Tranquil Star, stories by Primo Levi

3. What is your all-time favourite line?

It comes from The Great Gatsby and is by Thomas Parke d’Invilliers, whoever he is:

“If you can bounce high, bounce for her too,

Till she cry ‘Lover, gold-hatted, high-bouncing lover,

I must have you!’”

4. What is your all-time favourite book?

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy. I read it first when I was 20 and it hardly made an impression and then, again, about 2 years ago (30years later) and now it is my favourite book of all time.

5. Which book would you display as proof of your being well read?

I really hope I wouldn’t do that. Anyway there are always so many books of all kinds lying about our house on every surface that it would be difficult to tell which one was supposed to be the impressive one.

6. What book would you use as a door stop?

Any Harry Potter book.

7. What should you have read and haven’t?

There are many but Don Quixote by Cervantes is one of them, often started, never finished.

8. Why do you illustrate children’s books?

A day without drawing or painting feels a bit wasted for me.

9. Why should people look at your illustrations?

I hope my pictures make people dream a bit.

10. What did you want to do after leaving school?

I wanted to study art at Michaelis but my parents opposed it on the grounds that I would meet unsuitable bohemians and go off the rails. I am very grateful ( not because of the bohemians whom I embraced later anyway ) but because I think Art Schools with a strongly theoretical approach frequently threaten the uncomplicated joy of art making.

11. What have you still got to learn?

I have nearly everything still to learn which is one of the wonderful things about this kind of work – it doen’t end; you are always learning, trying something different – I feel as if I’m only just getting into my stride. I think I would draw even if I couldn’t see – maybe the work would be better, more free. That is one of my battles – my best drawings are the preliminary ones before I am inhibited by the thought of ‘finished art work’.

12. How many languages do you read?

English, French, Italian, Afrikaans.

13. What would you ask an alien?

I would ask the alien to Sunday lunch