A Q&A with Truro Middle School

I recently had the great pleasure of working with the Colchester-East Hants Public Library in Nova Scotia to do a presentation on creating graphic novels. We had such a wonderful turnout of classes filled with students keen to learn about the process! So keen that even with a good amount of time left for questions, we still weren’t able to get to them all.

Truro Middle School sent an amazing thank you note my way, and I noticed that it had many of the questions that we weren’t able to get to. I wanted to answer some of those questions and thank all of these students for taking the time to write them. Let’s dive in!

Who is your favourite character?


What a great and tough question, Sikha! I think it changes depending on what book I’m working on. And since I’ve been writing lots of RACC PACK lately, I’ll say Dusty! He’s the “brains” of his raccoon family and he’s a lot of fun to write. Scraps and ReRe are really fun too! But there’s something really special about the way Dusty thinks that makes him especially fun to write—and a blast to see how Whitney brings him to life!

What’s your favourite food?

love breakfast food…it’s my favourite meal of the day. Pancakes are one of my all-time favourite things to eat and I love trying all different kinds of them. There’s a pancake called a pannekoeken, which is also known as a Dutch Baby. It’s a pancake that you bake in the oven and when it rises, it almost has a crust on the sides like a pie! You can do all kinds of variations and my favourite is adding pecans and brown sugar to it. I have a recipe for my pannekoeken here—but remember to have a parent or guardian supervise you if you want to try to make it yourself.

 How do you come up with your ideas?

Another wonderful question! Thank you, Sofi. It depends, really. But a lot of my ideas come from watching movies and TV shows, reading books and graphic novels, and playing games. I like seeing what is out there and sometimes a side character or a comment a character might make sets off a bell in my head. I start wondering about what I might do with something like that or within a particular genre or lore. Even something like reading a good fairy tale can make me think, how would I reinvent this?

Other times, story ideas come from being out with my friends and talking about the types of stories that we want to see more of in the world. Being around other creative people can be great for sparking ideas in each other!

What is your favourite book that you have made so far?

This question didn’t have a name but thank you so much for asking it, whoever you are! I technically have a couple of answers for this. Currently The Racc Pack is my favourite! I had so much fun working on it. I adore working with Whitney Gardner—she’s just the best! And I love raccoons, so this project is a dream come true. I get to write about one of my favourite animals and work with one of my favourite people in the industry. It doesn’t get much better than that!

But also, ParaNorthern is a very special book to me and always will be. While I was working a job that had me feeling really down, I started creating ParaNorthern in my spare time as a passion project. I really wanted something of my own to bring into the world and to see if writing graphic novels was something I wanted to pursue. When I showed it to my agent in our first meeting to see if we wanted to work together, she told me that it was something special and that she could see its potential. It was the very first time I realized that I might be able to do this as a career! And it wound up being the first project that I sold to a publisher as a writer. So ParaNorthern will always be in my heart.

Plus, working on ParaNorthern helped to get me talking to Whitney Gardner, who I’m now working on The Racc Pack with. So even more reason to love it!

Master Hamster and Hoot in front of a T-Rex skeletonHow did you come up with Master Hamster Super Science: Dinosaurs?

Fantastic question! I think I mentioned this in the presentation but I LOVE DINOSAURS! I have been obsessed with them since I was a kid and I really wanted to be a paleontologist. That didn’t pan out, as you can tell, but I still get to do cool things with dinosaurs by writing about them.

I worked with a wonderful team at Epic! Originals for all of the Master Hamster Super Science comics. Our team was given a few different topics that had been researched by professionals and included dinosaurs, weather, forces and motion, and simple machines. We were asked to choose a topic, and I was lucky enough to get dinosaurs! But then I had to come up with a story for that. When I was a kid, my mom took me to the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, and told me that we were going to see the dinosaurs. I was so excited! But when we got there, I was really sad because there were no dinosaurs, just dinosaur bones. That’s the same thing Hoot says in my Super Science story!

Unlike me who just had to see the skeletons, Hoot has a time machine! So I got to rewrite history by doing what I wanted to do all those years ago…travel back to see actual dinosaurs. And if any of your have read Time Buddies, I wanted to include Mustachasaurus Rex in there so we could talk about the science behind dinosaurs having feathers.

It was a lot of fun to work on, and I’m still very proud of it.

How did you come up with Time Buddies 10?

I wrote both Time Buddies 6 and Time Buddies 10! And there’s still more to come from me in that universe. We had a small group comprised of Matt Cody, Marcie Colleen, Nick Murphy, Paul Ritchie, and Steven Scott. Together we formed a writers’ room together to brainstorm ideas for the new seasons of Master Hamster Super Science, Time Buddies, and Cat Ninja.

So when it came to working on Time Buddies, we had to think of fun time periods and eras that Hoot could travel to. Of course, she could also jump forward in time as well, but for me, it was a lot of fun to put her in time periods where things I was interested in had happened. One of the best parts of writing Hoot is how silly she can be, and the great outfits that she comes up with for her adventures! So I imagined what she might wear and thought of her visiting Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in London while he was writing Sherlock Holmes. And as I mentioned in the last question, I love dinosaurs! So without giving too much away, I really wanted to craft a fun mystery that saw the return of an iconic character from the first season of Time Buddies…sort of. You’ll have to read it to find out what I mean by that!

When did you start on Cat Ninja?

I helped to work on this current season of Cat Ninja, which is Season 6, as well as the upcoming Season 7. The current season starts at Issue #25, which is written by Steven Scott. But myself, Matt Cody, Marcie Colleen, Nick Murphy, Paul Ritchie, and Steven Scott all worked in a thing called a writers’ room together for these books. Together, we brainstormed the overall story for this season, thought up the individual comic issues, and then assigned the comics to the writers. But we worked together on all the issues to make each others’ stories even better and to tell the best stories that we could.

So the first issue of Cat Ninja that you’ll see my name on is Issue #27, but all of us that I mentioned earlier, worked together on this and the next season of the series. And I have a fun short story for Cat Ninja Tales coming out in a little while too!

What is the concept of Cat Ninja?

It’s all about…a cat who is a ninja! At night, Cat Ninja fights crime but by day, he goes by Claude and is a regular ol’ housecat with a family of humans that he loves dearly. Along the way, he’s joined by other crime-fighting critters like Master Hamster (a reformed supervillain) and Adonis.

Matt Cody is the genius behind the creation of Cat Ninja and the whole book is a lot of fun. Chad Thomas has been the artist on it for quite a while too, and both him and Matt are wonderful people who know how to tell great stories.

Why is the cat in the bathtub?

I’m guessing you’re talking about Cat Ninja #27 (the cover is on the right) and you’ll have to read to find out! But a short little tease is this: Cat Ninja and Master Hamster are sent to a pet boarding facility while their humans are out of town. It has a top-of-the-line spa in it, and maybe (just maybe!) Cat Ninja and Master Hamster will have some time to enjoy it…unless some villain have other nefarious plans!

How long does it take to make your books?

Great question, Gracie-Lynn! It really depends on the book. For instance, Whitney and I sent out our pitch for The Racc Pack to our publisher almost exactly three years ago on Feb 22, 2021. Simon & Schuster acquired (a fancy word for “bought”) our book not long after that in March. And it just came out last week! So it took us about three years to make it from start to finish.

But other books can take shorter or longer! I worked on a mini-series called My Little Pony: Camp Bighoof and the story was approved at the very beginning of last year in 2023. While the individual comic book issues were a lot shorter than doing one big graphic novel, the first issue came out in August 2023, just eight months after the idea was approved. Then each issue came out every month after that, and the collected version of all the issues will be available in May of this year. So that was very quick in comparison.

What colour is your toothbrush?

I used a fancy schmancy electric toothbrush that’s mostly all white, except for a little plastic band of colour around it that’s red.

What is your opinion on Columbo?

What a fun question, Taylor—my partner was very excited to see a question about one of his favourite shows. Or at least that’s what I assume you mean, but please let me know if I’m mixing things up. I’m sad to report that I have not watched a whole lot of Columbo yet, but I am absolutely sure it’s in my future!

When did you start making books and comics?

Oh My Gods! Book CoverThanks so much for this question, Zoey! I started writing comics for myself all the way back in 2015. Nearly ten years ago now, wow!!! But most of those didn’t turn into anything that’s available to be read now, aside from a couple of short stories. My very first full-length graphic novel that I sold was ParaNorthern and I sold that to my publisher in Fall 2018. It came out three years later in July 2021.

And although I sold ParaNorthern first, my other graphic novel series, Oh My Gods! with Insha Fitzpatrick and Juliana Moon, wound up coming out before that was released in January 2021. Comics and graphic novels can take quite a long time to make. So I’ve technically been making them for a lot longer than they’ve been on bookshelves!

I want to thank these wonderful students again for sending in these amazing questions. And if you ever have any other questions in the future, please feel free to send them in either via email or you can send a letter:

EMAIL: me@stephaniecooke.ca


LETTER: Stephanie Cooke
P.O. Box 60006
RPO Chester
Toronto, ON
M4K 3Z3