Toronto Tuesdays: Debbie Ohi

I am so happy to have my friend Debbie Ohi as today’s guest! I’ve known Debbie since the start of our Torkidlit group in 2009. She is a fierce lover and supporter of the kidlit community and is one of the most authentic and truly beautiful people I know. Debbie has been a steady voice of encouragement to me — she even suggested an impromptu zoom call between a few of us, in the middle of our work day, to celebrate my signing with an agent last year, since we couldn’t do it in person at the time! So we cheersed our water bottles to the screen. That call meant the world to me ♥️ Debbie is a pure delight and I’m so glad to know her!

Welcome Debbie!

Thanks for including me in your Toronto Tuesdays blog series!

What’s your favourite creative medium? What draws you to expressing yourself this way?

Assuming you’re asking about my illustrating…

I don’t really have a favourite creative medium – it constantly changes, depending on my mood, what else I’ve been working on, if it’s for work or for pure play.

I love drawing with found objects, for example, but more for the pure fun of it rather than for an entire book project, and usually just one-offs. Perishable items like fresh produce are especially fun because the art that results is ephemeral

I love the convenience of sketching on my iPad because I don’t have to worry about carrying around paper or drawing materials, and usually do take my iPad with me on the road.

I’ve been really enjoying painting and sculpting in virtual reality via my Meta Quest headset.

Most recently, I’ve also been having more fun with Caran D’Ache water-soluble pastels and coloured pencils as well as fountain pen drawing.

What inspires you to create?

I create for self-therapy as well as to connect with others.

And I’m also inspired to create when I have a deadline coming up. 🙂

What, or who, is your greatest creative influence?


I find that the more I read, the more I want to create.

What is your favourite time of day to create?

For creative writing, my favourite time in the day to create is first thing in the morning.

Which of your creations is your personal favourite, and why?

I don’t really have a personal favourite creation, but here are a few of my favourite found object pieces:

How do you deal with creative slumps?

I reread books I love, and I go for walks in a nearby cemetery.

Reading always helps, and cemetery walks remind me never to take time for granted.

Who are you beyond your art? Give us three insider facts about you.

I am a hobby songwriter and used to perform with a filk music group called Urban Tapestry. My songs have aired on CBC radio. We’re still good friends, though we don’t tend to perform that often anymore.

Barnes & Noble wanted to acquire one of my websites many years ago. I had breakfast with Steve Riggio, former Vice Chairman at B&N.

My first computer was a TRS-80 Model I. The first programming language I ever learned was BASIC.

What’s one of the best – or most memorable – questions you’ve ever been asked, and how did you answer it?

A kindergarten class asked me why a rainbow has different colours during a Q&A in a virtual school visit. I can’t remember exactly how I answered, but it was part science and part “let’s make up a fun story to explain it” answer.

What’s something you’re excited about right now?

I’m excited about my current picture book project with Simon & Schuster, whose working title is ALL THE BOOKS! Also excited about the middle grade novel I’m working on right now – it has Japanese yokai, time travel and elements of horror – and a semi-autobiographical graphic novel. No guarantee that either of my middle grade projects will get published, but I’m hoping!

I am cheering you on, Debbie! I can’t wait to have your MG novel in my hands!

Will you share a link where people can find you?

You can find out more about me here.

Thanks so much, Debbie! I always value time spent with you.

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