Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Interview With Author Theresa Howell

Last Wednesday, La  Bloga posted an interview with F. Isabel Campoy, author of  Maybe Something BEAUTIFUL.

Visit the book's website

Join the hashtag #maybesomethingbeautiful and send photos of what makes yours neighborhood beautiful.

Today La Bloga interviews author Theresa Howell. She is also the author of Maybe Something BEAUTIFUL.  I first met Theresa in a SCBWI conference and later I had the great honor to have her as my editor on my book Playing Lotería/ El juego de la Lotería.

Congratulations, Maybe Something BEAUTIFUL is an excellent children’s book. How did you learn about Rafael López real story?

Rafael and I started working together years ago as the editor and illustrator of Monica Brown’s book My Name is Celia: The Life of Celia Cruz. It was the first children’s book either of them created. I learned of his story then and was so inspired by how he and Candace were able to transform their neighborhood with colorful murals and bring the community together. I thought, this is a story that needs to be shared with as many people as possible. It is powerful enough to inspire others to want to transform their own neighborhoods.

What was the experience to write this book with F. Isabel Campoy?

Isabel is a passionate, eloquent person with a great depth of experience. I loved getting to know her better and relish her positive energy. We both believe in the transformative power of art and books. It was a pleasure collaborating with her and I look forward to working with her to share this book with the world and the possibility of future collaborations.

How was the process from manuscript to publication for Maybe Something BEAUTIFUL?

We first started thinking this book could be a reality way back when I worked as the editor of Rising Moon/Luna Rising. The team was formed and the ideas started flowing. After Rising Moon/Luna Rising was sold, we decided to continue on with the project and see it through. Isabel and I traveled to San Diego to meet with Rafael, where we toured his murals and listened to Candace and Rafael tell the story of how they transformed their neighborhood and how the movement spread through the city and on to other states. Such an incredible story!

When we returned we were inspired to put the story down on paper. We wanted to make the book accessible to children by giving them a character they could connect to—a small girl named Mira, who loves art and sees potential beauty in her gray neighborhood. When she meets the muralist, he is staring at a blank brick wall. “What do you see?” she asks. “Maybe…something beautiful,” he replies. She knows she’s found a kindred spirit and together they empower their neighbors to join them in creating an expansive mural and that turns their gray neighborhood into a vibrant place to live.

We shared our manuscript with Rafael and he loved it. Adriana, our agent at Full Circle Literary, worked with us to find the manuscript a home. HMH picked it up and Jeannette, our editor, worked with us and Rafael to bring the book to life. 

You had been en editor and I had the great of opportunity to work with you on the picture book Playing Lotería/ El juego de la Lotería. What is the biggest difference between writing and editing?

It’s such an interesting experience being on the other side! Creating a book with a publisher is a creative and collaborative process. The editor, authors, and illustrator all work together to bring a book to life, each adding his or her own touch to the final product. As the editor, it’s my job to bring everything together and coordinate all of the different elements behind the scenes to create a book. As the writer, you hand your work over to a trusted editor and must be patient while they do their magic behind the scenes. Each side is wonderful. It was an honor to be a part of such a creative team for Maybe Something Beautiful.  

-If you were Mira and had a paintbrush and wonderful colors, what would you create?

I’d paint another beautiful bird like you see taking flight at the end of Maybe Something Beautiful. I’d like to see where it goes and what new adventures it will have. 

-Mira in the story dreams of a colorful neighborhood. What did you dream as a child?

I was a big dreamer when I was a child, just like Mira. One of the many things I used to dream about was being a writer!

-What is the message of Maybe Something BEAUTIFUL?

Maybe Something Beautiful is about the power art has to transform our communities and our hearts into beautiful places that we can all be proud of.

Theresa Howell began her career in publishing as a children’s book editor at Rising Moon, where she helped to establish the bilingual imprint Luna Rising. She is currently the children’s editor at Rio Chico Books for Children, and the author of children’s books with an artistic and cultural focus. She lives in Colorado.

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