If you are lucky enough to meet talented Londoner LOUISE YATES do expect to be captivated. Louise displays instant warmth and thoughtful intelligence with an artists’ inflection. Perhaps that is partly why her gorgeous children’s books have scooped up countless prizes and international recognition. The Daytrippers Team has read Dog Loves Books, Dog Loves Drawing and Dog Loves Counting so many times the edges have begun to fray!
At University, Ms. Yates read English at Christ Church in Oxford and she wrote a letter to Sir Quentin Blake to which he responded and they met to critique her portfolio. That was over 10 years ago and the rest is history! We Are Daytrippers is happy to have had a brief interview with Louise and we look forward to buying her newest book Dog Loves Fairy Tales!
The Daytrippers Team: Did you have a role model or mentor as a child?
Louise Yates: I’ve had many mentors. To me a mentor can be anyone who’s example you hope to follow – someone you know personally, or even someone you’ve read about or heard of. Even a small aspect of someone’s spirit or attitude can be your mentor: it needn’t be someone’s whole being that inspires and makes you wish to follow their example. Perhaps for this reason its best to look for the best in people. We all rub off on and influence each other and I think that by focusing on and cherishing the best in others we are more able to become a richer and more diverse mix of the good we encounter. I’m very grateful to the people in my life who have seen the best in me and given something of themselves.
The Daytrippers Team: Who is currently your role model or mentor?
Louise Yates: I heard earlier this year that Dr. Maya Angelou had died. I’d not heard of her before and I’ve since listened to a wonderful talk she gave. I’d like to study the things she said and wrote and try to learn from her.
The Daytrippers Team: What is your creative talent and how do you cultivate it?
Louise Yates: I write and illustrate, mainly creating children’s picture books, but I also love other forms of writing and art, particularly drawing and painting portraits and writing stories and poems. I cultivate this by finding time to be alone and time to be with others. I read and go to exhibitions. I love looking at the work of people I admire, and if I’m lucky enough to know them, I love spending time in their company. Friends of all kinds are essential to cultivating creative talent, especially as some forms of creativity can be quite solitary.
The Daytrippers Team: Have you had any experience with disabled or terminally-ill people?
Louise Yates: I was very lucky to go to schools that provided for able and disabled pupils and teachers. One of my favourite mentors was a teacher who taught me when I was seven or eight. She was born with a physical deformity that meant she was around the same height as us. She first inspired my love of poetry. She made our class feel like a family and each of us feel special. I still love reciting the poems she taught us.
Later, at a different school, I had a teacher who suffered from a severe and debilitating skin condition. She was very disfigured by her condition and movement was painful and challenging for her. Despite this, she was determined to become a teacher, and was training at the school. Sadly, she died unexpectedly as a result of a complication during an operation. She was very inspiring: we were very lucky to be taught how to be courageous and determined by someone who embodied those values.
When I was sixteen I worked in a textile factory that was run by, and that employed, people with disabilities. It was my first work experience and I met some wonderful people who looked after me and taught me how to print.
When I was at university I travelled to Bulgaria to find orphanages and institutions that needed volunteers. Many of the children I met there had been placed in the institutions because of their disabilities. They faced many challenges, but the greatest of all was neglect. The lady that helped us find the orphanages and who translated for us had a disability herself. Her family had supported her at home and her help was invaluable to us, she was very able and talented. It made me realise what a great advantage love and care gives people no matter what difficulties they face.
The greatest sadness in my childhood was the death of my Grandfather. He had cancer and his terminal diagnosis came some time before his death. I still feel very close to him – his expressions of generosity are a continuing gift to me and I still enjoy his sense of humour. I often laugh because I know something would have tickled him.
The Daytrippers Team: Would you share a challenge in your life?
Louise Yates: I think one of the greatest challenges is losing someone you love. I try to focus on the fact that love itself does not end and it has many ways of finding expression: it may be given to or received by someone specific, but it belongs to us all.
The Daytrippers Team: Would you like to share a quote with children who face difficulties?
Louise Yates: I like these words by Maya Angelou, she said: “A bird doesn’t sing because it has an answer; it sings because it has a song.”
The Daytrippers Team: Thank you so much Louise Yates.
Connect with Louise Yates: @_DOGLOVES
See Louise in conversation with Sir Quentin Blake: