Today I welcome illustrator Heather Bell, to the blog. We met in 2019 as part of a picture book debut group of authors and illustrators and I’m a big fan of her debut MAC AND CHEESE AND THE PERSONAL SPACE INVADER.
From her bio: Heather Bell whole-heartedly believes that hidden within our everyday lives is a secret realm glimpsed through books, music, and children’s laughter. Holding a BFA in Painting from the Kansas City Art Institute, she is a member of SCBWI, a participant in the 12 x 12 Picture Book Challenge, a Children’s Book Academy graduate, and a mommy. When not illustrating and writing, she searches out story ideas as an undercover school bus driver. Heather Bell is an author/illustrator represented by Kaitlyn Sanchez at Olswanger Literary Agency.
What were you like at the age of your target audience?
I’m a pretty quiet person now, but back in early elementary days, I was an adventure junky who was always making big plans (and had no issues with saying anything on my mind). With my little brother by my side, we explored as far as we were allowed to go (and sometimes farther). Riding bikes around the block, we had to watch out for giant tomato plants ready to snatch any slow-riders while zigzagging around the inhabitants of lizard crossing. I loved to make up stories even before I could write. And when I was stuck at my mom’s work, I would hijack the spiral binding machine and make my own scribble story books.
Heather at six years old
What inspires you?
My son inspires me most. My mom (usually when super frustrated) used to say, “I hope you get one just like you!” Yup. That happened. But it’s definitely more blessing than curse. We enjoy a lot of the same things together, like climbing trees, campfires, and exploring the neighborhood. I love having him pick out new MGs with me to read at night (they are full of inspiration for me and have an extra perk for him as I tend to get caught up and continue reading WAY past his bedtime). Just hanging out with him when he tells me about his day or the new game he’s playing gives my mind lots of room to wander and think about situations from different perspectives.
What do you hope your readers take away from your books?
I have illustrated two picture books. My debut, MAC AND CHEESE AND THE PERSONAL SPACE INVADER, written by the amazing Jolene Gutiérrez came out August 2020. And out this January is WHY IS MOMMY CRYING—explaining early pregnancy loss to young children written by the brilliant I. Cori Baill, MD. I hope both books leave the reader feeling that they are understood and that it’s okay to ask questions. In Mac and Cheese, the main character Oliver just wants his classmates to know he cares. It takes effort, but in the end, he finds a way. In WIMC, the main character Max is scared because he notices his mother is upset and wants to know why. I hope these books offer ways to see the world through other perspectives and can be used as springboards for discussion.
Heather is generously offering a signed copy of her second book, WHY IS MOMMY CRYING? for the giveaway. Please comment on the blogpost to be entered to win.
What’s next for you?
I am currently reworking a dummy that I hope to have on submission soon. I had planned to do a few tweaks, but inspiration hit over winter break and I thought…why not do a total overhaul? I am open to commissions and love working on freelance projects to keep a variety of ideas flowing. Also, I’m following along with Tara Lazar’s Storystorm and hope to turn a few of the story seeds into full grown drafts.
Heather can be reached at:
Twitter: @heatherbell37 Instagram: @heather.bell37