Illustrator Debbie Ridpath Ohi

I'm anything but bored to introduce, Debbie Ridpath Ohi, aka @inkyelbows, whose debut picture book, I'M BORED, recently hit the shelves. Debbie's one of my all-time favorite people whom I've had the honor to meet since becoming a writer. And, although Debbie is also a writer, this marks the first time that we've hosted an illustrator here at GLIAS! (And yes, the author of her picture book I'M BORED is *that* Michael Ian Black.)

So, without further adieu, welcome Debbie!


Photo credit: Beckett Gladney
Debbie Ridpath Ohi writes and illustrates for young people. She is the illustrator of I'M BORED by Michael Ian Black (Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers, Sept/2012) and her work also appears in the teen fiction anthology, TOMO (Stone Bridge Press, Mar/2012). Represented by Ginger Knowlton, Curtis Brown Ltd.

URL: DebbieOhi.com
Twitter: @inkyelbows.


I'M BORED received a very positive review in this weekend's New York Times!!!! Congratulations Michael and Debbie!

An excerpt:

"Black is a comedian and actor (“Stella,” “The State”) when not writing children’s books (“A Pig Parade Is a Terrible Idea”), and he tells his story in sprightly fashion. The illustrator Debbie Ridpath Ohi convincingly draws a child full of life, a potato full of — well, potatotude, and computer drawings that look just like good old-fashioned linocuts. Her smart cartoony artwork matches Black’s perfect comic timing, making for a fun ride that should leave you amused, perhaps pensive, and no longer bored."


I'm Bored
Simon & Schuster Books For Young People
ISBN-10: 1442414030
ISBN-13: 1442414037
Buy here: Indie Bound

If anyone needs proof of Debbie's fabulous sense of humor, her talent or how seriously she took the task of illustrating this book... check out this fabulous comic. :)

Proof that Debbie took her task seriously

Publishers Weekly starred review: 
"It looks to be the ultimate ennui smackdown: a bored-out-of-her-gourd kid vs. an equally jaded potato....Debut illustrator Ohi’s minimalist, scraggly digital drawings are anything but boring, and speak volumes about irritation, desperation, and disdain."

I'm Bored Music Video (inspired by the new picture book from Simon & Schuster BFYR) from debsanderrol on Vimeo.


MAUREEN:  What’s your favorite holiday?
DEBBIE:  National Punctuation Day (http://www.nationalpunctuationday.com/)

MAUREEN:  Ha! I think I have a new favorite holiday. :) Where do you most like to read and how often?
DEBBIE:  In bed, before going to sleep every night.

MAUREEN:  What’s your favorite kind of story to get lost in?
DEBBIE:  Middle grade or YA fiction with engrossing characters, compelling story and a unique voice.

MAUREEN:  What really scares you?
DEBBIE:  Public speaking. I had a terrible stammering problem when I was a child, barely able to say “hello” on the phone. I used to avoid any course in university which had a public speaking component. BUT now public speaking is part of what’s expected of published writers and illustrators, so I’m having to face my fear head-on - it’s not something I can avoid if I want to be pursue this career wholeheartedly. I find it helps when I’m talking about something that’s really important to me or that I’m passionate about - I can focus on that instead of my fear. Plus I figure the more I do it, the easier it will get.

MAUREEN:  Who was your favorite teacher in grade school? Why?

DEBBIE:  Mr. David Smallwood in Grade 8, because he was the first teacher to really encourage me in my writing. I got in touch with him years later after graduating from college, and he said that he still had some of my short stories.

MAUREEN:  Where in the world would you most like to visit?
DEBBIE:  I’d like to go back to Japan for a visit. Though my mother was born there, I’ve only been once (the trip ended badly; we were supposed to fly home on Sept. 11 -- yes, THE Sept. 11). Hopefully I’ll be more fluent in Japanese next time.

MAUREEN:  Wow. That was bad timing. What’s next for you as an author?
DEBBIE:  Right now, I’m having so much fun writing a picture book for Simon & Schuster. It’ll be the first book that I write AND illustrate, so I’m hyped. 

Debbie hard at work with her art director and publisher
I'd also like to start getting my novels for young people published. Don't get me wrong -- I -love- writing and illustrating picture books. But I've wanted to write middle grade and young adult novels ever since I can remember, so I don’t want to forget about that part of my writing. 

I've written a total of three middle grade novels and sent out two via an agent. The rejection letters grew more encouraging over the years as I continued to work on my craft. In some cases the book made it to the publishing house acquisitions meeting but was rejected. In one case, an editor liked it enough to work me on some revisions, but ended up rejected the revised mss.

Each rejection hurt, especially the ones that got very close. BUT I learned something each time, especially from the ones that got very close. In the case of the editor who worked with me on revisions but then ended up rejecting the mss, I learned so much that I can apply to other projects. Even if I had known I’d be rejected in the end, I’d still have gone through the process just for the experience and the knowledge I gained.

In retrospect, I'm glad that those first novels didn't get published -- I've become more confident as a writer since then, and my writing has definitely improved. 

MAUREEN:  I think most people don't realize how often writers get rejected, even after signing with a fabulous agent and/or previously publishing. It's not a profession for the weak of heart or thin-skinned! What’s your favorite hobby?
DEBBIE:  Other than drawing and writing, you mean?

MAUREEN: *grin*
DEBBIE:  I'd have to say playing music and board gaming. Sorry, I can’t choose just one!
I play, with varying degrees of competence: piano, flute, Celtic harp, guitar, tin whistle and assorted bangy percussion items. I used to teach piano for extra income through high school and then later on; I worked on my ARCT teaching degree at the Royal Conservatory of Music at one point and completed the theoretical requirements.

I love making music with other people, and have performed (flute) on a bunch of CD projects. I also write music for and perform with my own music group called Urban Tapestry (http://urbantapestry.org); we’ve given concerts in the U.S., Canada, England and Germany. I attend filk conventions. If you’re curious about filk, here’s info: http://debbieohi.com/ut-filk-faq-index/
My other favorite hobby is board gaming. My husband was the one to get me hooked! We attend board gaming conventions in Canada and the U.S., including BGG.con and Alan Moon’s Gathering Of Friends.

MAUREEN:  Wow! I knew you were musical, but I had no idea! What’s the best vacation you’ve ever been on?
DEBBIE:  Going a canoe trip down the Nahanni River (http://www.electricpenguin.com/nahanni/).

MAUREEN:  Hiking boots or high heels?
DEBBIE:  Hiking boots, definitely.

MAUREEN:  What was your favorite book when you were twelve?
DEBBIE:  Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury. It’s still one of my favorite books.

MAUREEN:  What turns you off like nothing else?
DEBBIE:  Unrelenting cynicism.

MAUREEN:  What book would you want with you if you were stranded on a desert island?
DEBBIE:  SAS Survival Handbook.

MAUREEN:  What a practical (and smart) choice. :-) Do you write while listening to music? If so what kind?
DEBBIE:  Italian progressive rock or silence.

MAUREEN:  Vanilla or chocolate?
DEBBIE:  Are you kidding me? My comic is called Will Write For Chocolate (http://willwriteforchocolate.com). :-)

MAUREEN:  Who’s your favorite villain?
DEBBIE:  Snape.

MAUREEN:  What’s the most romantic thing anyone ever did for you?
DEBBIE:  My husband (who was my boyfriend back then) convinced me to quit my programmer/analyst job so I could pursue a career that would make me happier.

MAUREEN:  What was your first boyfriend’s name? Would you want to meet him again?
DEBBIE:  My first boyfriend’s name was Reid. His wife is one of my closest friends and I was Maid Of Honor at their wedding. We all (including my husband) met during university, and the four of us still hang out sometimes.

MAUREEN:  If you couldn’t be a writer or illustrator anymore, what profession would you take up?
DEBBIE:  Jingle writer.

MAUREEN:  What do you do to unwind and relax?
DEBBIE:  Read in the bathtub. I purposely buy used paperbacks of my favorite comfort books just for this purpose. The iPad and Kindle don’t cut it in this situation.

MAUREEN:  What was your favorite subject in school and why?
DEBBIE:  In high school, my favorite subjects were Calculus and Music. Calculus because I loved practical applications of mathematics. Music because...well....I just loved everything about that class. I did love Art class as well but stopped taking it after ninth grade in order to take more sciences and maths. I couldn’t make a living as an ARTIST, after all!

MAUREEN:  I did the same thing in high school! In fact I warned myself about it in my Dear Teen Me letter! 
Who was your first best friend? Are you still in touch?
DEBBIE:  Cathy Rutland...and she’s still one of my best friends. We get together almost every week; we’re neighbors! Other than family, she’s known me longer than anyone.

MAUREEN:  What is something that not a lot of people know about you but you WISH more people COULD know?
DEBBIE:  I’m an introvert. I’ve had so many people say stuff like, “oh, you’re so lucky that you’re so social and extroverted!” My close friends know how introverted I am. I enjoy socializing but it takes a lot out of me. I’m perfectly content working in my basement office all day without speaking to a single person.

Until my husband comes home and I talk his ear off, that is.

Please note: introversion is not the same thing as shyness. If you’re confused between the two, you need to watch Susan Cain’s excellent talk, The Power Of Introverts.


MAUREEN:  When do you get bored?
DEBBIE:  You know, I spent way too much time thinking honestly about my answer and I have to say: Never. 

MAUREEN:  Based on the time I've known you, I completely believe this is an honest answer!


DEBBIE ASKS:  What’s the last book you read in one sitting?


Debbie will give away one copy of I’M BORED to a lucky commenter! Plus... a unique hand drawn doodle by Debbie.

No geographic restrictions!

Note: Offer void where prohibited. Prizes will be mailed to North America addresses only unless specifically mentioned in the post. Odds of winning vary due to the number of entrants. Winners of drawings are responsible for checking this site in a timely manner. If prizes are not claimed in a timely manner, the author may not have a prize available. Get Lost In A Story cannot be responsible for an author's failure to mail the listed prize. GLIAS does not automatically pass email addresses to guest authors unless the commenter publicly posts their email address. 


My blog for those who write & illustrate for young people: http://inkygirl.com 
My homepage, daily sketchbook, portfolio and links to all my projects & blogs: http://DebbieOhi.com 
My Twitter posts about writing & illustrating: http://twitter.com/inkyelbows 
My Author/Illustrator Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/DebbieOhi 
My webcomic for writers: http://WillWriteForChocolate.com 
My blog about writing and illustrating picture books for Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers: http://DebbieOhi.com/pbcreation 
Press & bio info: http://debbieohi.com/debbie-interviews/

Thanks so much, Debbie! So wonderful to get a little insight into the picture book process!

DON'T FORGET to FOLLOW us on Twitter #GetLostStories or LIKE us on Facebook to keep up with all our guest authors and their prizes.


  1. Good Morning and welcome to GLIAS, Debbie.

    My kids would tell me "I'm bored."
    I'd promptly respond: "Only boring people are bored."

    I never accepted that there wasn't anything for a kid to do. Absolutely love the concept of the book and the illustrations!


  2. Oh my gosh! I would love to win a copy of this book and a doodle from Debbie. How cool. Kids are going to love this book. Thanks for the feature, Maureen and Debbie!

  3. Yay, thanks for interviewing me for this wonderful blog, Maureen!!!

    And to Angi: thanks for the welcome and the kind words. :-)

  4. I might feel guilty winning I'm Bored because I've already bought 4 copies and have ordered 2 more. But a doodle by Debbie is always a win!!

    I'm Bored is the BEST!! I want to see a fanfic (hmm is there picture book fan fic?) where the girl from I'm bored meets Olivia the fabulous pig. I think they'd get on famously!!

  5. My fingers are crossed (mX Xm) that I can win a copy for my middle school where I try to inspire over 125 6th graders that they can write something amazing!

  6. I really enjoyed reading this interview and this book looks and sounds adorable!

    The last book I read in one sitting was Dawn of the Dreadfuls by Steve Hockensmith.

  7. Fabulous and completely unboring interview!

    Count me in. :)

  8. Fun interview! :)

    What’s the last book you read in one sitting?
    Ashes of Honor by Seanan McGuire, read last night

  9. Great interview- great interviewee

    I NEED another copy of I"M BORED because my kids are fighting over the one copy that we already own.

    Pretty please? Just so I can get to sleep at night at a decent hour….


  10. Nice drawings. I enjoyed the interview.


  11. Great interview, ladies! Introverts unite!

  12. And random.org picked.... Deb Marshall!

    Deb, contact me at info at maureenmcgown dot com and I'll put you in touch with Debbie. :)