The Backstory: BELLA'S RECIPE FOR SUCCESS
The Backstory is thrilled to welcome Ana Siqueira and her picture book, BELLA'S RECIPE FOR SUCCESS to the blog today. Ana is here to share the inspiration behind Bella as well as some stellar advice for writers.
Welcome to The Backstory and thank you for joining us and sharing the inspiration behind BELLA’S RECIPE FOR SUCCESS.
First off, please tell us a little bit about your story.
My story or Bella’s story. My story: I was a girl with many disabilities: cerebral palsy when I was born, ADHD - not diagnosed. Bad motor coordination. And Dyslexia. My twin brother died when I was two years old and I didn’t talk for a while. My mom even thought I had autism. But somehow, all these challenges made me stronger. And now, I am just like Bella. I’m always ready to work hard and try again. BELLA’S RECIPE FOR SUCCESS is all about a girl who quits after everything she barely tries until she discovers making mistakes are okay and WE CAN ALWAYS TRY AGAIN.
I love the theme of resilience and overcoming adversity shared by both you and Bella! These are lessons that are always important for children to hear and picture books are the perfect entry point into those conversations.
What’s the story behind the story? What was your inspiration? Where did the idea come from?
Funny thing. My inspiration came from my daughter because she wanted to be perfect all the time. And if she couldn’t be perfect, she would quit. But, reflecting, that was also my story. I wanted to be good at something. And I didn’t feel I was. My siblings were all amazing, and with my tendency of over imagining things, I even thought for a while I could be adopted. I was not that amazing. Hahaha. But I look just like my mom. So, no, not adopted. Just a little different. And that is okay.
Children, especially our own, can be a huge source of inspiration. I hope your daughter is proud to be the inspiration behind your book and recognizes how many children will learn from Bella.
How did you approach going from this seed of an idea to what is now BELLA’S RECIPE FOR SUCCESS? Was it something undeniable you had to write immediately or did you need to sit with this idea and let it grow for a while before it found its way to the page?
BELLA, whose name was Bia, was the second story I ever wrote. So, I learned the hard way. I had to revise, revise, revise it so many times. It changed from being Bia to Bella, from being a writing competition, to a baking competition, to no competition at all. It had backmatter with famous people who had disabilities. And there was no recipe. I am so grateful for my critique partners who were so patient and helped me to grow.
That is quite the transformation Bella underwent. It seems like even from the start you had the heart of the story down. Thank goodness for trusty CPs. They are the best at helping us reimagine what is possible in our stories. And kudos to you for your willingness to work and rework the story until it was just right.
Where do you tend to find your inspiration or your sparks for ideas?
Most of my inspiration is from memories. But when I am reading or watching kids’ shows, I can get many sparks. Try watching a kid show every week. My favorite: Rug Rats.
Wonderful sources of inspiration. Mining memories is always a productive way to generate ideas. Watching kid's shows is one I had never thought of, but I love! Now I have my excuse to go back to watching cartoons. RESEARCH!
What books have been the most inspirational/impactful on your writing?
I love all Junie B. Jones books. I also love books from Monica Brown, Anika Denise, Pedro Brown, Elise Parsley, and all the stories from my amazing critique partners.
That is a great list of authors! And Junie B. is well-loved, both in my classroom and with my own children.
What are the must-haves for your workspace? Tools? Inspiration? Reference materials?
Laptop, notebook, pen, water, and snacks.
Any inspirational words of advice for aspiring authors?
Bella’s story was going to be about Bella participating in a writing competition. I always loved writing, but my teachers thought my stories were too confusing. Then when I got here an editor read a translation from my book in Portuguese (which won a prestigious award in Brazil) and said it was weird. That broke my heart. I didn’t write for over 20 years. But in 2019, I decided to go back to writing. And now, no one can tell me to give up. So, believe in yourself and don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t.
I am so happy for you that you came back to writing. You clearly have more stories to tell. Believing in yourself and not giving up are great pieces of advice and I love the addition of not letting anyone stand in your way.
Do you have any upcoming projects or news you would like to share with us?
I have three more books coming out. IF YOUR BABYSITTER IS A BRUJA (SimonKids 2022), ABUELA’S SUPER CAPA (HarperCollins 2023), and TBA (HarperCollins 2024). I am also writing a historical fiction based on an amazing teacher from Brazil that involves recycling, robotics, STEM, and community. I’m so excited.
Knowing that each year we can expect something new from you is wonderful. I look forward to hearing more about your forthcoming releases.
Where can people connect more with you?
Find more about her and her books at https://anafiction.com/
You can follow Ana on
Instagram - https://www.instagram.com/asiqueira1307/?hl=en
Pre-order BELLA’S SECRET FOR SUCCESS - signed copies here
Readers be sure to follow Ana on social media and please check out BELLA'S RECIPE FOR SUCCESS (Beaming Books, 2021) with illustrations by Geraldine Rodriguez.
Ana thank you for joining The Backstory and for sharing all about what inspires you and your stories!
Ana is generously offering a giveaway to one lucky reader. The winner will be able to choose their choice of a pb critique, signed copy of BELLA'S RECIPE FOR SUCCESS, or if they are a teacher, a 30-minute virtual classroom visit.
Ways to enter:
1. Retweet my tweet about this blog post. Additional entry for tagging friends!
2. Leave a comment on this post.
3. Like our FB page and comment on this week's post.
4. Post about this interview on FB/Instagram and tell me in the comments that you did.
Each method earns an extra entry!
ABOUT ANA SIQUEIRA
Ana Siqueira is a Spanish-language elementary teacher, an award-winning Brazilian children’s author, and a published author in the Foreign Language educational market - EL PATO QUIERE UVAS. Her forthcoming picture books include BELLA’S RECIPE FOR DISASTER/SUCCESS (Beaming Books, 2021), IF YOUR BABYSITTER IS A BRUJA/ CUANDO TU NIÑERA ES UNA BRUJA (SimonKids,2022), ABUELA’S SUPER CAPA/LA SUPER CAPA DE ABUELA (HarperCollins 2023) - two-book deal auction. The second book has not been chosen yet. Ana is a member of SCBWI, Las Musas Book, and co-founder of LatinxPitch.
Ana was chosen as Local PBS Media Innovator 2016 and she got trained as a Global Educator in 2018 through IREX and the US State Department where she went to visit and teach in India
Besides writing, Ana loves to read, teach, and play with her Cuban-Brazilian-American grandchildren.
ABOUT ANDREW HACKET
Andrew’s background of being surrounded by children, both at work and at home, has been a treasure trove of inspiration.
A nature lover, Andrew can be found exploring the woods of Massachusetts with his wife and three kids.
While often witty and imaginative, Andrew’s stories can also delve into the more serious and emotional topics that children can experience.
Andrew is represented by Dan Cramer of Flannery Literary.