When she was younger, Cincinnati author Heather Lester wrote scripts to make home movies with her siblings.
She savored the poetry of Shel Silverstein (“I still can recite some of the poems today”) and the “intricate illustrations” of Richard Scarry. In high school she composed poetry.
Inspired by her children…
Today, this self-described “Mother, Author and Bookkeeper,” who still loves books with rhyme and detailed illustrations, finds literary inspiration from her three children.
The result : the publication of three colorful juvenile picture books, each with its own special theme : acceptance, the value of imagination, and kindness.
It all began with her first book, “I Love You For You,” published in 2017.
“This book idea came to me as my children grew and I realized that they are their own unique persons,” Lester recalls. “We can be the same in a lot of ways, but there are things they want to do that I would never choose. I want to encourage them to follow their own path and make sure they know I will always love and support them.”
Bookkeeper and the recipient of a business degree from Miami University, Lester followed her own new path when she converted a lifelong love of “writing and telling stories” into composing that first book. “I never really thought about writing a book until 2017,” she says.
Her imaginative children then inspired her to write another book after she observed them playing outdoors. “How many uses can you find for a stick from the yard?” Lester asks. “Well, my kids can find several!” Their inventiveness prompted Lester to write “The Green Scarf” which “inspires kids to be creative.”
Another Lester book, entitled “I Can Be Kind,” stemmed from the author’s “hope for how I want my kids to be,” she says. “I can see the effort schools and parents are making these days to make sure kids are kinder to each other, and I wanted to write a book that shows them that changing the world can be done with a grand gesture, or it can be done with something as simple as being kind…
“So, yes, my children are a great inspiration for the books I write.”
Writing for the audience…
When composing juvenile literature, Lester always considers the age of her readers. “I’ve been writing for children ages 3 to 10,” she says. “You definitely have to take age into account. You need to make sure you use words they can understand and stories they can relate to,” she advises, crediting a book editor for “making sure I am using words appropriate for the age” of her audience. “There might be a lesson, it might be funny, it might be something they can see a role model in, or it might just be fun. I will never be able to appeal to every child in the world, but if I can connect to some, and I am happy with my work, then I think I have done my job well.”
The necessities : finding time to write, searching for an illustrator…
For Lester, “the most challenging part of the writing process is finding the time to write. I need more time to work out my ideas and finish some of the books I have started.”
The author uses her phone and scraps of paper to save ideas and later transfers the notes to her computer. Then she usually begins to write “at night after my kids are in bed.”
As an author of children’s picture books, Lester knows the value of a talented illustrator. Her search for these specialty artists has been successful.