The illustrator
Steven Learmonth

Friday 13th March 2020

Q1) The first book you ever loved

The Usborne Book of Greek and Norse Legends - After doing a project on the Odyssey in Primary 5, I became obsessed with mythology, and got this at Hatchards bookshop in Stirling. The first book I can remember reading because I actually wanted to.

Q2) The book I have read more than any other

100 Demons by Lynda Barry - Lynda Barry is an American cartoonist and writer. This book of comic strips was produced in emulation of an old Zen painting exercise called "one hundred demons." In this exercise, the practitioner awaits the arrival of demons and then paints them as they arise in the mind. The demons Barry wrestles with in this book include regret, abusive relationships, self-consciousness, the prohibition against feeling hate, and her response to the results of the 2000 U.S. presidential election. It is a beautiful, funny and touching book, and an essential read.

Q3) A book that you despise

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho - A book for privileged white kids who want to go on a gap year and find themselves. Boring, next.

Q4) A book full of beautiful writing

Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson - The story of two orphans, Ruth and Lucille, growing up in a tiny American town, who find themselves in the care of their eccentric Aunt Sylvie. The main theme of the novel is the difficulty of fitting into regular society, how some people long for that kind of acceptance and conformity, and how others may never achieve it. This is perfectly summed up in the beautiful final pages.

Q5) The book you've been meaning to read for years, but haven't

The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro - I read somewhere about how the film of this book is one you see as a kid and find dull and boring, then you see it as an adult and it totally breaks your heart. This definitely happened to me, so have been meaning to read the book for a long time, it's on the list.

Q6) The book you're reading currently

The Stranger in the Woods by Michael Finkel - The true story of an American man named Christopher Knight who lived as a hermit in the Maine woods, undetected, for over 20 years.

Q7) Your favourite short story

This is my last story by Janet Frame - Frame is a New Zealand novelist who was wrongly diagnosed as schizophrenic in her youth. The publication of the book this story comes from saved her from a lobotomy. A shy and introverted person, this moving story expresses her feeling that she may have 'the wrong way of looking at life'.

Q8) Your all-time favourite novel

A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara - The novel follows the lives of four friends in New York City from college through to middle-age. It particularly focuses on Jude, a lawyer with a mysterious past. I couldn't possibly sum this novel up in a few sentences so won't even try. Since I read this a couple of years ago, I'm not sure any future novel will ever compare to it. And I cried like a baby at the end. ●

Steven Learmonth was born in Falkirk. He realised at an early age he liked stories and drawing, so went on to study both English and Art when he grew up. This included studying Children's Book Illustration at Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge. If you would like to see some of his art you can follow him on instagram and twitter: @stevensquared


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