Jillian & Mariko Tamaki discuss their latest graphic novel


Illustrator Jillian Tamaki and writer Mariko Tamaki, cousins and co-authors of the award-winning book Skim, are back. Their new project is a graphic novel called This One Summer, about two girls vacationing in Ontario's cottage country. They spoke about the book with Jian Ghomeshi on CBC Radio's Q. You can listen to that conversation in the audio player below:

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Mariko Tamaki told Ghomeshi that she thought the cottage country convenience store had a lot of potential as a setting for rich storytelling. "I could see it as one of those crossroads of all these people," Mariko said. "[It's] one of those places where you went from being a kid to a teenager. It started off as this place where you could get gummy bears and then you would go there to stalk the local teenage boys."


Mariko believes that having the story set in the summer gives it a sense of whimsy and timelessness. "So much of storytelling is this structure and summertime has no structure."

The story is told from the view of two pre-teen girls, Rose and Windy, who watch Rose's parents go through a difficult personal time and the local teenagers struggle with a possible pregnancy. "I wanted to tell this kind of innocent tale," Mariko said. "It ended up being this anthropological study of adulthood from the perspective of the most observant people, the people who are really invested in sort of trying to understand adults."

While Mariko grew up going to cottages, Jillian grew up on the west coast of Canada and wasn't familiar with cottage country. This required Jillian to be inventive in her portrayal of a place that evoked such nostalgia. "The book is all about the senses - the smells, the feeling on your skin," she said. The cousins made sure Jillian had first-hand cottage experience by taking a trip to a friend's cottage in Muskoka, so she could experience cottage life first-hand. 

"I'm always very interested in creating a very specific place," Jillian said. "I really love the idea of something very very specific and to be honest, something very very Canadian."