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Fanbase Press Interviews HF Brownfield and Kayla Coombs on the Release of ‘Quinnelope and the Cookie King Catastrophe: Volume 1’ with Oni Press

The following is an interview with HF Brownfield and Kayla Coombs regarding the release of Quinnelope and the Cookie King Catastrophe: Volume 1 with Oni Press. In this interview, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief Barbra Dillon chats with Brownfield and Coombs about their shared creative experience in bringing the series to life, why it was important to make the book accessible to readers with dyslexia, and more!

Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: Congratulations on the release of Quinnelope and the Cookie King Catastrophe!  For our readers who may be unfamiliar with the story, how would you describe the series’ premise?

Kayla Coombs: Thank you, we’re thrilled! The Quinnelope series follows an unusual trio of friends – Quinnelope, Bub and Star – as they venture together to solve hilarious problems. Quinnelope is a character that creates melodrama out of everyday mishaps. A small inconvenience, like running out of cookies, becomes a comical crisis. The group meets an undercover agent from the Cake Intelligence Agency, embarks on a perilous journey over Chocolate Chip Mountain, and enters a life-or-death joke competition with Egg-splosive Enemies, all to find the missing Cookie King. Honestly, I think a good dessert is worth all that!

BD: What can you tell us about your shared creative process in not only bringing these incredibly fun characters to life on the page, but in crafting a world that is both wacky and relatable for readers of all ages?

HF Brownfield: Creativity can be a winding, messy process. If you’re going to go on a creative journey with someone else, you’ve got to be willing to let them see all your trashed sketches and ideas. One rule we set for ourselves at the start of our collaboration was the rule of psychological safety in our brainstorming sessions.  Our collaborative space is a safe one to try anything wacky and, if it works and serves the story, we keep it. Each week as we pitch each other new material, our number one goal is to make each other laugh. Sometimes, if we aren’t sure how something will land with kids, we have my kids give it a read and provide honest feedback. So far, this has been a winning strategy.


BD: Kayla, did you have a specific art style in mind at the inception of the project, or do you feel that your design evolved over time in your collaboration?

KC: I’ve always had a love for bold and vibrant color palettes – it’s become a signature element that I incorporate into every project. But, in almost every other way, the art style for Quinnelope’s world is completely new to both of us. When we set out on this project, we intentionally crafted a fresh and distinctive art style that captures the eccentric essence of the characters and their unique world. Everything is a bit irregular, slightly off-beat, to match the quirky tone of the series. The story and design blend so seamlessly now that neither one comes first – we write and draw the story at the same time.

BD: The lettering of the series was created in a format that is friendly to readers who may have dyslexia. Why was this an important element to include in your creative process?

HFB: This is one of my favorite things to talk about! We really created this series with all kids in mind. My oldest daughter has dyslexia. The traditional dyslexia fonts are great for people with dyslexia, but nearly impossible for people without the condition. We wanted to create a happy medium, so Kayla taught herself how to create a custom font and went to work! With a little research and a lot of love, our Quinnelope font was born.

BD: At Fanbase Press, our #StoriesMatter initiative endeavors to highlight the impact that stories can have on audiences of various mediums.  How do you feel that Quinnelope, Bub, and Star’s story may connect with and impact readers?

KC: There’s a theme that comes front of mind when we write Quinnelope, one that I sometimes need to be reminded of and perhaps readers might connect with, as well: You are never ‘too much’ for your true friends. Quinnelope is a self-professed drama queen, and her friends enjoy helping her to solve each minor catastrophe. Bub can be nervous and risk averse, but when the stakes are high, his companions believe in him more than he believes in himself. Star has moments of sarcasm, but everyone knows they’re a kind and loyal friend. These qualities aren’t flaws to be suppressed, rather each friend brings out the best in the others. This is the secret sauce of fantastic adventures.

BD: What makes Oni Press the perfect home for this story?

HFB: Oh. My. Gosh. We feel like we struck gold when Grace at Oni Press believed in our idea. Oni treats creators with such respect and kindness, and they also bring so much expertise to the table. Working with Grace and the team at Oni has been a dream. They believe in letting creators tell the stories that mean the most to them.

BD: Are there any upcoming projects on which you are currently working that you would like to share with our readers?

KC: Keep an eye on the night sky, because we’re currently writing the second book in this series! Quinnelope and the Mystery of the Missing Moon: Volume 2 is set to hit shelves in Spring 2024.

BD: Lastly, what is the best way for our readers to find more information about Quinnelope and the Cookie King Catastrophe: Volume 1?

HFB: The Simon and Schuster landing page website is a great way to see where it’s available online. Oni’s website is a great place to keep an eye out for the latest and greatest, and Kayla and I try to share up-to-date, relevant information about the series, as well.


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