December's Local illustrator/author - JD Hornbacher

Questions for JD

Q: What is one thing you want people to know about your books?

A: You know how, when you don’t understand something complex, you ask that person to explain it to you as if you were a child? I love the idea that even complex subjects can fine-tuned to its simplest form. That’s what I attempted to do with my middle grade novel, “Ninjas With Feathers”. I was asked by author Tim Sheets to take the subject of one of his books (angels) and explain it to kids. This book takes a fun approach to unpacking big concepts like divine protection, unconditional love, bullying, identity, and so much more.

Q: Why did you become an illustrator / author?

A: Because kids are smarter than we realize. They just need big ideas presented to them in relevant and understandable ways. I love creating lightbulb moments for the next generation, and stories are one of the best ways to do that. I can do okay explaining things in-person and in-the-moment, but when I have a chance to write my thoughts down first, it’s so much more coherent. So why not take that to the extreme and write a whole book using those thoughts? 

Q: Do you have any advice for new and upcoming authors and illustrators?

A: Look to others for inspiration, but don’t copy them. I read a lot of kids/middle grade books to see what stirred my creativity and what appealed to me, and then used that as a launching point to write in a similar way. However, I didn’t try to make my voice sound like anyone else’s. I wanted to be authentically me. It was the same for drawing - I researched kids books and saw what the popular animation styles were. I started off imitating some of those, but in the end I told myself, “I don’t want to draw in a style that’s popular or most attractive - I just want to use the style that is 100% me." I’d rather do my best with a style that nobody likes than to change myself to adapt a style everybody wants.