MILLOO’S MIND Interview: Illustrator Hoda Hadadi

I am so excited to welcome the talented illustrator Hoda Hadadi to my blog today. My words are in bold!

Hoda, Thank you for bringing my grandmother’s story to life. The intricate, collage work is stunning and dreamy to me. I love how you layer collages together creating an unforgettable story.

1. What do YOU hope people think or feel when they see the cover and pictures for MILLOO’S MIND?
Well, I hope when people see the cover and pictures of Milloo’s Mind  at the first moment, they find it joyful and colorful. They feel the book contains a happy Eastern story.

2. How did you hear about this project? Does an email land directly in your inbox or go through an agent? 
I received an email from HarperCollins and when I read the text I found it amazing and replied to that email immediately for a yes answer. I guess HarperCollins found me via the Internet, I am not sure, I never ask it:)

FYI for me, I was given the choice of a few illustrators. I loved your work so much! These were some of my favorite images:

3. Do you read the whole book before signing on to illustrate/design the cover? What drew you to this project?
Yes, I read the whole story before signing the contract. The braveness of Milloo to break routines of an Eastern woman and her phrase (Enough is Enough!) attracted me, I felt that was the key of her life and I, as an Iranian woman also need to repeat it everyday to change or stop negative cultures which  force  women to do or not to do something. We need to be brave like Milloo and before that we need to be aware of ourselves and our abilities.

4. I’m so glad my grandmother’s story inspired you. I am in awe of your most recent illustrations of Iran and your social justice activism through your art. Would you share your design process and vision for MILLOO’S MIND? The endpapers below are dreamy!

I shared some frames of the book on my Instagram, let me check if I had a video or not. Usually I forget to film my works!

I found this video on Facebook of you working on the Milloo’s Mind cover and watched it over and over. I’m obsessed with your Instagram feed and the stories showing your desk as well as the videos of your artistic process. I found the videos soothing and got lost in your world of details!

5. Would you share insight on the gorgeous cover?
I usually prefer more simple covers for all of my books, more minimal with one character and with plain white background but publishers prefer covers with more color and more details because they know the market and the taste of their readers better than me and I respect and follow their advice.

 6. A tip for illustrators or designers? 
Start with the hardest frame, then enjoy your path to the end of the book. You are not forced to start your illustration from the first page.

Hoda Hadadi

7. Just for fun, where’s your favorite local place to go? Your illustrations show such a beautiful sense of setting. The textures are so inviting.

I love rustic places with all the elements of non-modern areas. quiet natural places.

8. What’s your favorite snack? (Your food illustrations are so playful and delicious!)

Pistachio Baklava and Saffron tea

9. What’s your favorite beauty product or skin care item?

Anything that includes avocado! Hand cream or face cream or hair serum or lip balms or even a perfume!

10. Any next projects you have coming up? Please share the links of how we can support and follow you!

Yes, I am working on another book for HarperCollins a story by (Marzieh Abbas) about another amazing woman and another book about immigration for Scholastic. I also am working on a book about (Nowruz), the Iranian new year which is on the first day of spring and has its own ceremonies.

Thanks Hoda! MILLLOO’S MIND releases on January 17th, 2023 and we can’t wait for you to read it. Links to order it are here. We appreciate your support in any way, whether it is you borrowing the book from your library and recommending it to your friend, posting about our book to social media, donating the book to a class, writing a kind review, or ordering our book!

Hoda Hadadi is a multi-award-winning illustrator with more than sixty books to her name. Hoda is also a poet and author. Her intricate artwork, created by hand, is recognized worldwide. Her awards include the Gold Medal for Best Picture Book, International Book Award 2018 USA, and Gold Medal for Best Illustrator at the Literary Classics Awards in 2017 for Drummer Girl. Her list of accolades speaks to her immense creativity.

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