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My Mad Hair Day: The Understory

Nathalie Dion and her beastly hair...

For as long as I can remember, my hair was a beast that had to be tamed at any cost. My mother also had thick and stubborn curls and, in an effort to help, taught me her haircare tricks: sleeping with a toque, rollers, smoothing iron and wax paper, a variety of hair straightening products. All tricks that work super well until humidity or rain hits! My life became a constant battle against the elements and a larger-than-life torment. It would never have occurred to me that my curls could be beautiful. NEVER. It was just my fate. Until the day my mother gave me a list of errands …

The story of My Mad Hair Day sat in my drawer for over twenty years. I started illustrating it several times. As I was never happy, it always went back to where it came from.

Meanwhile, after more than fifteen years of uninterrupted editorial illustrations, the pace of contracts started to slow down drastically, to the point where I had to find work in an office to make ends meet. I thought it was maybe the end of my career as an illustrator. After three years on this diet, I was starving (for creativity), and brought this story about crazy hair back out. With the help of a grant from the CALQ (Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec), I was able to quit my day job and devote myself to illustrating this autobiographical tale.

My Mad Hair Day thus represents my salvation (no less!) and served as a springboard into youth literature. Since then, to my great joy, wonderful book projects find themselves on my desk. I feel like an experienced novice. What is happening now is exciting, and when I go to sleep at night I look forward to the next morning.


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