My Favorite Kind of Doodling is When a Story is Implied: Debbie Ridpath Ohi

“Spencer didn’t know squirrels like to read. It gave him a great idea. Spencer told the squirrels they could borrow his books.” 
― Debbie Ridpath Ohi, Where Are My Books?

Ms. Debbie Ridpath Ohi, is a children’s author and super creative illustrator. As an illustrator, she is Inky Girl. Sometimes she uses broken crayons to create art, which is usually accompanied by inspiring lines. How interesting! She is the author cum illustrator of ‘Where Are My Books’ and ‘Sam and Eva’ {Published by Simon & Schuster}. Her writing and/or illustrations have appeared in over 20 books for young people, including titles by Michael Ian Black, Judy Blume, Rob Sanders, Aaron Reynolds.

Stories and pictures, two great forms of expression, are somehow interlinked. How does doodling inspire her as a writer, and vice versa?

‘My favorite kind of doodling is when a story is implied,’ Debbie says. ‘Sometimes I do this consciously and sometimes not.’

Enid Blyton has said, “Writing for children is an art in itself, and a most interesting one.” Debbie writes for children, even her art mostly features kids —enthusiastic kids! So, what inspired her to write children’s stories? Does she ever feel like writing a novel for grown up readers?

‘I honestly have never felt like writing a novel for grown-readers. And, why should I, when I have so many stories I want to write for younger readers?’ She answers brightly.

When a writer is an artist, a very obvious question comes to your mind —which came first? Which one inspired the other? So, which came first —writing or doodling?

‘I’ve doodled for as long as I can remember,’ Debbie says. ‘My father still uses a bookcase which has a happy face on one side, which I drew in crayon. I got in big trouble for that!’ She reminisces.

Debbie’s writing is no different. ‘I’ve written for as long as I knew how to write. I’ve wanted to write for as long as I can remember,’ she says.

Debbie quit her job as a computer programmer/analyst so she could spend more time on her novel. ‘I earned money through my freelance writing; I’d write for anyone who would pay me for my writing,’ she says honestly.

She has also created one of the first websites for writers on the Internet.

Now another question springs up! Writing or doodling? If she could choose only one skill, what would that be? Her answer, which is not unexpected, makes me smile.

‘DON’T MAKE ME CHOOSE! I can’t!’ she says. But adds further, If I *had* to choose, though, I think I’d opt for my art because I could communicate with a wider audience, even with those who didn’t speak English, for example.’ How thoughtful!

And then naturally, we want to know about her upcoming projects.

What’s Next?

‘I’m very excited about I’M WORRIED coming out from Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers in June 2019!’ she says.

This new picture book is written by Michael Ian Black and illustrated by me, and is the sequel to I’M BORED and I’M SAD in the series,’ she informs.

If you are reading this, it means you love books and writers! Many of you are aspiring writers. So, how can we skip this precious question? ‘What would be her precious advice to new/aspiring writers?

‘Intelligent persistence is key,’ she says. ‘Do your research, hone your craft. Work on developing a thick skin — learning how to handle rejection (and criticism) is essential if you want a long-term career in this business. Meet other writers. Exchange information and encouragement. I highly recommend joining the Society Of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators; they have chapters around the world.’ Debbie suggests.

You can find Ms. Debbie Ridpath Ohi, on Twitter


Tarang Sinha is a freelance writer & author of 'We Will Meet Again'. Her works have been published in magazines like Good Housekeeping India, Child India, New Woman, Woman's Era, Alive, and a best-selling anthology @ Uff Ye Emotions 2.

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