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About Me

In a nutshell:

Hello! My name is Debbie Ridpath Ohi (“Ohi” rhymes with “Chloe”) andI write and illustrate books for young people.

You can browse covers of my books here and here’s a text-only bibliography.

If you need headshot photos or a bio, you can find them in my Press Kit.

You can contact me here.

My ethnic background:

My mother was born in Japan. My father was born in Vancouver, but his parents were born in Japan.

What I was like as a kid:

Introverted, quiet, geeky. I stammered a lot when I was growing up, so much so that I saw a speech therapist. It didn’t help. I still stammer sometimes, mainly when I’m tired or stressed, but I’m no longer terrified of public speaking. I actually even enjoy it sometimes, especially if I know what I’m saying will help those who are listening, and if I have time to prepare.

Some random facts about me:

Once upon a time, I was a computer programmer/analyst. I’m the founder of Inkspot and Inklings, one of the very first online writing communities and electronic newsletters for writers. I ended up selling to a U.S. company so I could focus on doing more creating and less administration/managing.

Here’s what I’m working on right now.

I have a CD track with my name as its title (see Track 5). Written and performed by some of my filk friends, with a bunch of insider refs. Some of us used to write fun songs about each other, and this one ended up on Mystic Fig’s album!

How To Pronounce My Last Name, Where I was Born, How I Got Started and More

See the section in my FAQ called “Questions About Debbie, Her Background, Process, Etc.

Some Jobs I Had Before I Became A Full-Time Children’s Book Author and Illustrator

Worked as a Page for the Toronto Public Library: put away books, helped the librarians.

Bookseller for Lindsay’s Books For Children: sadly, this indie bookstore shut down many years ago.

Computer programmer/analyst for Toronto-Dominion Bank: I worked at their head office for two years.

Piano teacher, self-employed: taught piano lessons from my home and in students’ homes part-time, youngest student was 4 years old and the eldest was 80.

Computer technician for Environment Canada.

What I Enjoy Doing in My Spare Time


My husband, Jeff Ridpath, got me hooked on board gaming by taking me to my very first board gaming convention, BoardGameGeek, a convention organized by the online boardgaming community of the same name. I had always enjoyed playing board games but didn’t get much opportunity since I’m not a late night person. At BGG.con, however, I found people who were willing to play board games any time of day or night. After that, I got more involved in the community. And now? Well, now I’m working on a book about board gaming and the board gaming community.


Photo: Urban Tapestry in concert, FKO 2007
Photo: Michael Pereckas.

You can find out more about my musical background in my Music Page. I am a longtime hobby musician and songwriter. I play, with varying levels of competence: keyboard, flute, Celtic harp, tin whistle, guitar, assorted bangy percussion things.

I used to write songs for and perform with a filk music group called Urban Tapestry. We don’t tend to perform much anymore but remain good friends, and try to get together when we can. We’ve performed in Germany, England, across the U.S. and in Canada.

Still More Random Facts About Me…

I love miniature food, flashlights, cupcakes and I’ve turned my life into a comic strip. My comic strip, Will Write For Chocolate, focuses on a house full of freelance writers. My hobby projects include: Waiting For Frodo (completed comic strip, Canoe interviewed me about it), The Urban Tapestry Filk FAQ, and Reading the Lord of the Rings…A Final Attempt (the Sunday Herald Sun interviewed me about it).

My overall life attitude was altered after losing my mother to cancer, then my brother and his wife in a car accident. If I had to choose one quote, it would be Rose Tremain’s “Life is not a dress rehearsal.” 

NOTE: At present, I’m not taking on illustration assignments for self-published picture books or to accompany picture book text for sending out to publishers. For the latter, be aware that most publishers prefer to choose their own illustrations. Please read Harold Underdown’s excellent article on submitting picture books.