Today I’m excited to interview Brazilian author and Inked Voices member Ana Siqueira, whose picture book debut Bella’s Recipe for Success (Beaming Books), releases today (!) — July 13, 2021.
Here is a quick blurb:
Bella wants to find out what she’s good at. But she quits everything she (barely) tries because she’s a desastre. When she decides to learn how to bake with her abuela, her first attempt at dulce de leche frosting looks like cocodrilo skin. She must learn it’s okay to try again or she won’t be good at anything.
Peppered with Spanish vocabulary and set in an intergenerational Latinx home, Bella’s Recipe for Success will show all kids the value of practicing to learn a new skill, and that it’s okay to make mistakes along the way.
Kara: Welcome, Ana! Congratulations and Happy Book Birthday to Bella’s Recipe for Success. I just love Bella as a character! Her willingness to keep trying, even in the face of failure, is a wonderful topic to explore, and something that is relatable for many of us–both children AND adults!
Could you tell us about the inspiration for this story?
Ana: Yes, there are two inspirations!
The first is my daughter, Karina–a gifted child, but not persistent in her pursuits since most things came easy to her. Growing up, if Karina wasn’t the “best” at something, she would quit. Over time, she learned that it’s okay to make mistakes … to try and fail, but most importantly, to try again. Today, Karina is a successful entrepreneur!
The second inspiration comes from my role as an elementary school teacher. I like to instill the “growth mindset” in my students: work hard, keep learning, and be resilient; that they will be fine even if they make mistakes.
What do you hope readers learn from Bella?
To always keep trying!
Bella is a #PitMad success story! Could you tell us briefly about this?
Yes! In September 2019 I pitched Bella during a Twitter #PitMad event and received a “like” from Naomi Krueger at Beaming Books. The following month I traveled to Brazil to visit my mother, who had become ill. On October 22nd while still in Brazil, on a whim, I submitted the manuscript for Bella to Naomi. I’ll never forget this because it was the same day that my mom passed away. Since then I’ve sold three more books, and I truly believe that my mom is working hard to help me!
That your mom continues to be with you on your author journey is such a wonderful sentiment!
What was the process of working with Bella’s illustrator, Geraldine Rodriguez?
Geraldine is from Mexico. Her illustrations are amazing! I especially love Bella’s facial expressions, the colors, and the cat. Geraldine added the cat–it was not on my notes or manuscript.
The cat is so cute! I love it when illustrators include fun little surprises like that!
Tell us about your background/writing career. Has Inked Voices played a role along your writing journey?
I am a Spanish teacher, and I love it! I think it is so important to learn a second language (especially learning Spanish in the United States).
In 1992, I moved to the U.S. and started my teaching career in a Montessori school. I then took a hiatus to open a Brazilian café (in fact, the polvorones con dulce de leche recipe in Bella was somewhat inspired by this).
I also became a Spanish teacher, interpreter, and at the same time attended my first writing conference. At this conference, I received a critique from an editor that crushed my confidence … added with all my new career responsibilities, plus kids and college, I didn’t write again for over 20 years. But 2019 is when I decided to get back to it–-to try again. I’m so glad that I did!
I also joined Inked Voices in 2019. This community has definitely helped me along my writing journey. I’ve participated in several pop-up critique groups, and I love the workshops with editors and agents!
Any tips for writers hoping to break in?
The children’s publishing industry is very subjective so don’t get discouraged. Be persistent and keep trying–like Bella!
What’s up next for you?
If Your Babysitter is a Bruja (Simon & Schuster, Summer 2022): a bilingual story where a young child believes that their new babysitter might be a witch.
Abuela’s Super Capa (HarperCollins, Winter 2023): an intergenerational story about love and remembrance where Luis and Abuela put on their super capas and save the world, until one day when abuela must hang up her capa.
Plus one new picture book yet to be announced!
Where can we find you? Where can we purchase Bella?
You can find me on my website, www.anafiction.com.
The Writing Barn and Tombolo Books will be hosting a free virtual book launch for Bella on July 17th, 11 am – 12 pm CST.
Ana, thank you so much for your time! I loved hearing about your writing journey. You are definitely an inspiration and a living example of persistence with a big payoff. I can’t wait to see where your writing career takes you!
About the Author
Kara Sibilia is a writer and editor with a background in marketing, public relations, and journalism. A member of Inked Voices, Kara is based in New Jersey where she writes picture books and edits a local lifestyle magazine. Reach out on Twitter @KaraSibilia.