The boy interviews Qin Leng:
Boy: Qin, your pictures are so funny and friendly! Do you draw a lot?
Qin: I breathe like I draw, I draw like I breathe. I did my very first drawing when I was 3 and haven’t stopped since.
Boy: The story doesn’t say what kind of dog Norman is. How did you know what he looks like?
Qin: When I am given an opportunity to draw something from my imagination, I tend to go with my own experience, or go with what I like. I always loved shabby looking dogs, with scruffy thick hair like a brush. The only hint I had was the fact that Norman didn’t have a tail, which I thought was adorable. And the rest was a mismatch of the colour of fur from my boyfriend’s dog, and the body type of a dog I would like to adopt myself, if I saw it at the pound.
Boy: I like all the little things that you drew in my house — the plants and books and the different pairs of shoes. Where did you get all this stuff?
Qin: My apartment is a tiny one bedroom, and even though I love decorating, I have no room to let my creativity go loose. So drawing your house was the perfect occasion to let it out. I love long benches in the hallways, collecting shoes and plants, teak coffee tables, and dark blue walls. I also think that when you walk into someone’s home, you can learn so much by looking at the objects they leave around. So I always find it important to put some interesting objects in my characters’ homes.
Boy: How long did it take you to draw the pictures?
Qin: I draw very very small. Norman on paper, is the size of an eraser! That works to my advantage, because it makes it a lot faster for me to finish one page of illustration. Even with multiple testing and corrections, it takes me about half a day to complete one page of illustration.
Boy: There are four in my family — me, Mom and Dad, and Norman. How many people are in your family?
Qin: I come from China, where we have the one child policy. So my mom and dad had me, but to their surprise, I also came with a twin sister! So we are also four in my family, just like you.
Boy: Can you speak another language?
Qin: I do! I actually love languages and if I weren’t so busy drawing, I would probably be learning languages. But for now, I speak Mandarin, Shanghainese (another dialect in China), and French. I picked up French when I moved to Bordeaux (France) and lived there for 4 years, before moving to Canada.
Boy: Was there a time when you didn’t feel very smart?
Qin: My twin sister is an engineer, and is doing her PhD. To top it off, she has created a device that can potentially fabricate artificial skin! So with her next to me, there are lots of times when I don’t feel very smart!
Boy: Do you have a pet?
Qin: I would love to, but I am far too busy to have one right now. I really love dogs and cats though, but over the years, I have become allergic to dogs! I have yet to find out whether I am allergic to cats or not.
Boy: If you could draw something imaginary and make it come alive, what would you draw?
Qin: That’s a really tough one, because there are so many things I would draw. They pop up in my head every minute.
Let me think of what’s in my head right now… I see a little girl riding a giant, flying gold fish… so that’s what I would draw.
Boy: Ha ha ha! Are you going to draw more books about dogs?
Qin: I have illustrated a couple books about dogs so far, so I can only imagine I will be doing more in the future! Just need to wait for an author to come up with a fun dog again!
Boy: Thanks, Qin! Now I’m going to fly away on my giant gold fish…
See how Qin Leng created Norman: