Meet Canadian Authors and Illustrators, 1994: 36.
Born 17, June 1952 in Québec City.
This creator of the “Stella” and “Sam” series of children’s stories, was born into a nomadic family and by age ten she and her family had wandered from Montréal to Vancouver and back. In this lifestyle she became an avid reader as books were her only constant companions. As well she saw the vastness and variety of the Canadian landscape and became bilingual. Interestingly enough, art did not come early to her. She failed her grade 3 art class and didn’t draw again for the next ten years. Instead she went into acting, appearing on stage and in several television series. This potential career ended when her family moved back to Montréal.
By this time she was a disgruntled teenager of about seventeen years then art came back into her life. She began drawing bizarre cartoon creatures principally in her school texts. She had found her niche.
She enrolled at the Institut des arts graphiques in Montréal, where she studied graphic design. This was followed by a stint in the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts School where she majored in animation and later the Academy of Art College in San Francisco.
She started drawing professionally when she was eighteen years old. She illustrated magazines, textbooks and posters, designed clothes for children, and wrote three plays for which she created the sets, puppets and costumes. At the same time she freelanced as an art director and production manager for a children’s book publisher and taught illustration at the Université du Québec à Montréal.
She did this work for about five years before she started illustrating children’s books. “At that point, a desire came up to write my own stories because I found I liked to be able to play around with words and the images so that they’d influence each other.” She wanted to create a world where her “characters would live great adventures and feel much emotion. A rich visual world where everything was possible.”
She writes first in English, then in French. Her books have been translated into many languages including Chinese, German, Slovenian, Hebrew and Portuguese. She uses pen and ink and watercolours and dyes to do her illustrations.
This writer and illustrator of the Stella & Sam series, has won Governor General’s Literary Awards, for Rainy Day Magic (1987) and Yuk, A Love Story (2000); The Amelia Frances Howard-Gibbon Illustrator’s Award for Moonbeam On A Cat’s Ear (1986), Rainy Day Magic (1988), Roslyn Rutabaga and the Biggest Hole on Earth (2011) and Any Questions (2014), the Elizabeth Mrazik-Cleaver Canadian Picture Book Award for Stella Queen of the Snow (2001), the Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award for Caramba (2005) and the Vicky Metcalf Award for Literature for Young People (2005) for her body of work. She has been invited to meet children, teachers and librarians in schools and libraries from Inuvik to St. John’s and from Tète-à-la-Baleine to Haida Gwaii. She has attended readings, workshops and conferences throughout North America, Europe and China.
She lives in Montréal.
Meet Canadian Authors and Illustrators. Writ., Allison Gertrude. Scholastic Canada Ltd., 1994.
Marie Louise Gay, http://marielouisegay.com/english This is a mini autobiography.