Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester is happy to shine our spotlight on Hazel Mitchell, who will be one of our guests at the Pet Rock Festival at Becker College in Leicester on Sunday, September 11. ABSW will have our booth there for the whole event while our guest authors are there from 1:00 PM – 3:00 PM.
Hazel Mitchell has illustrated many books for children including Imani’s Moon, One Word Pearl and Animally. Toby is her author-illustrator debut from Candlewick Press.
Thank you so much for joining us, Hazel! Can you please tell us briefly a little about yourself and your writing?
I am a children’s picture book author and illustrator; I live and work in Maine (after being a late pilgrim from England). I studied art in England after leaving school and then I served in the Royal Navy. I worked in graphic design until I finally came to the USA and pursued my dream to write and illustrate for children.
For readers unfamiliar with your work, how would you describe what you write? What can readers expect from your work?
For most of my career, I’ve been illustrating other people’s manuscripts, so I’ve done all kinds of different things and it’s a lot of fun! My first book as author and illustrator is TOBY, about my rescued poodle … In the story he is adopted by a boy and his father, and it’s a story about the growing bond between a child and his pet, trust, overcoming fear and finding friendship.
What piece of advice would you want to share with other writers?
Never give up. It’s something that comes back time and again on the journey to publication and afterwards. People say it all the time and you think it’s just about getting that first step on the ladder. And once you have that first step … then there is the second and the third and many new challenges to go through. This is a solitary life (with the odd overwhelming burst of outside activity) and you need to find that resolve to move forward with your work. I often catch myself thinking ‘never give up’. It helps to have a great bunch of positive peers, too.
What else can we expect from you in the near future?
I’m working on a middle grade novel and am excited to see if that will find a home with a publisher. It’s an adventure/mystery set in a theatre in England and based on a town not unlike my own seaside hometown. I have had a lot of fun writing it!
While you’re writing, do you prefer music, silence, other? Please elaborate!
While I’m writing I need silence, or music/sounds that mirror the mood of the writing. But when I’m illustrating I most often listen to audio books or BBC radio iplayer (check it out if you don’t know it! I can’t function without it).
Are there any groups, clubs, or organizations that you would recommend to other writers that have helped you in your career?
The most important group for helping me kickstart my career has been the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI.org). I can’t recommend it enough … they have conferences all over the country as well as a wealth of information online. If anyone wants to write for children I suggest they hurry over to the SCBWI’s website right now!
Where can people find your work? (Besides ABSW ;)–though they should totally check here first!)
My books are in the usual places on line or, better still, find me in your favorite indie bookstore. My website has all kinds of things about my work on it (including TOBY, my first author/illustrator picture book) go to http://www.HazelMitchell.com
How can we follow your work, share your awesomeness, or otherwise stalk you in a totally non-creepy way?
You can go to my website, find me on facebook.com/HazelMitchellBooks, tweet me @hazelgmitchell, or on Pinterest and Google+. Or just put me into Google search and I’ll pop up! You can also find Toby @MeetToby.