Creator Corner: Author Naseem Hrab and illustrator Kelly Collier
Welcome to Creator Corner! Every month, we’ll be interviewing the creators of our recent books. This month, we interviewed How to Party Like a Snail author Naseem Hrab and illustrator Kelly Collier. This new picture book about an introverted snail’s plan to throw the perfect, peaceful party published September 15, 2022.
Owlkids Books: When did you know that you wanted to be a writer or illustrator?
Naseem Hrab: I’ve wanted to be an author since I was nine years old. Back then, I was very lucky to have teachers and librarians who encouraged my writing in a big way and made me feel like I wrote stories that were worth writing down. I was writing the hilarious (in my opinion) adventures of a superhero named “Nasal the Spray” at the time and I still have copies of some of those stories. I didn’t start writing picture books until much, much later after a close friend told me that I did more talking about writing than writing. Oof. It was a powerful moment of tough love, and it motivated me to start writing consistently. (Thank you, Connie!!!)
Kelly Collier: When I was in high school I knew I wanted to do something with visual art, and by the time I graduated, I was certain I wanted to be an animator. It wasn’t until my first year of college that I rediscovered children’s books and illustration as a career. Once I fell in love, I never looked back.
OKB: Naseem, what inspired you to write this book?
NH: How to Party Like a Snail came from a very personal place—I’m not much of a party animal and I generally feel anxious about big gatherings. I’m my happiest when I’m puttering around my home, or hanging out with a good friend. One day, the title How to Party Like a Snail just popped into my head and I thought, “There’s a ‘there’ there!” And the rest is history.
OKB: Kelly, which spread was your favorite to illustrate?
KC: I’m not sure I really have a favorite, but if I had to choose, I think it would be the spread when Snail is waiting for the mail. It makes me laugh every time!
OKB: Which spread was the most challenging to illustrate?
KC: I think it was the spread when Snail’s friends are trying to coax him out of his shell. It was a tricky layout that the designer Alisa and I had to redo a few times. We needed to make sure that the images, speech bubbles and reading order didn’t conflict.
OKB: What do you both hope readers will take away from this book?
NH: I hope readers will take away the message of self-acceptance. It’s not important to convince anyone to do things your way or like what you like—it’s more important to feel unabashedly free and simply be who you are. And maybe, just maybe…you’ll meet a kindred spirit in the process.
KC: I think there are a few lessons that kids can take away. Be true to yourself, that we all have different likes and dislikes and that’s ok. Sometimes our likes can make us feel like an outsider, but have faith that you will find your people eventually. Never yuck someone else’s yum.
OKB: What’s a fun fact that people may not know about you?
NH: A fun fact that people may not know about me is that I don’t just love eating ice cream, I also love making it! It’s one of my favorite things to make! Cooking the custard is kind of like writing—you must be patient because there’s big of risk of either undercooking or overcooking it. And if you get everything just right, everyone wants more!
KC: I love pineapple on pizza.