Interview with scientist, children’s author and illustrator Dr Ana Isabel Ordonez

This month we chat to scientist, children’s author, illustrator Dr Ana Isabel Ordonez to find out about the inspiration behind her work…

Your children’s books feature a whole host of animals including Aye Aye and Roibeard the Giraffe. Can you tell me what the inspiration for the characters was? 

Most of my characters emanate from a poignancy, animals are poignant; usually this emotion becomes so compelling that I feel obligate to write, the same way some people feel compelled to talk to someone when going through weird places. When I read back over my work I can see how it’s me who’s writing but that each bit of writing personifies a different angle of my character and a different time too.

What has the response been like to the books? 
The response has been very good! People seem to really enjoy them. Hopefully animals like them too! After all we’re all just evolved monkeys really, aren’t we? I’m kidding…almost…

Your books have a strong message about animal rights and the importance of their natural habitat. Is this something that you have always felt passionate about?

Animals are losing rights and sadly future generations won’t have the opportunity to see the animals that we do today.  We have a lot to learn from animals, they are often much wiser than us. While humans like to believe that it’s love that makes the world go round, it’s the connection between human beings and animals that’s important. It’s that relationship that makes our time on earth joyful.

Do you have a writing routine that you follow?

I’ve always felt that I’m somewhat of an instinctive writer and illustrator. I’ve had no formal training, all of my knowledge about technique, form and meter I’ve conquered through studying the great writers, poets, and by reading their work time and again.  As writer and children illustrator it’s important to remain unrestrained, staying formless and inhabited in both style and utterance. I write from 4am to 9am without stopping – I need calm and reflection from what I experienced during the hours I’m awake. I also sleep a lot – up to 9h a day, but always in small fragments. Gosh I sound a bit like a lazy cat!

How do you spend your time when you’re not busy writing?

Being! That’s a big job! I spend my time having the courage to be myself! But aside from that, I travel and go biking, swimming and walking. I also enjoy reading a lot. Sometimes I simply do nothing – that’s something I’m becoming an expert in! It’s not easy to stay in the “emptiness of nothing” but nowadays I can spend hours just watching my pet turtle running about!

What are your favourite children’s books?

Wow that’s a tough question to answer! But I do like the work of Horatio Alger, Bernard Ashley, Aesop, Charles Dickens, Nicholas Stuart Gray, Roald Dahl, La Fontaine, Pavel Bazhov, Andrei Platonov, Jules Verne, Antoine de St Exupery, Aleksei Tolstoi…. the list is endless.

What inspired you become a writer?

I’m not sure if one becomes a writer. Life has drawn me in lots of different directions. On one hand, I’ve always been attracted to science, with its truth based on facts; but on the other hand, I am fascinated by ethics and the surreal.  Writing for me has always been about exploring most harrowing themes of human, animal, insects, minerals, music, poetry experience, irrespective of topic but keeping the wonder alive.

                       Aye Aye in space!

I self-publish my work, which I love because nobody tells me what to do! I have a great distribution worldwide but I’m always looking at new ways of doing things too. I like to explore new universes, I don’t like the sense of permanence. Every day is a teared up page of an infinite book.

Do have any further books in the series planned?

Yes, I’m working on a new story about Aye Aye and her pet Euricoty. The book is filled with lots of fun, laughter and a bit of naughtiness! It’s good to be naughty sometimes!

We look forward to reading more about Aye Aye and her adventures very soon!