Timi Bliss Q&A

October 25, 2021
Children's book author Timi Bliss is constantly in search of inspiration.

“Art has a way of bringing different types of people to the same place where they gather around a piece of work to think, digest, and feel. Internal and external conversations naturally spawn from there.”

You have an interesting spelling of your first name. Is there a story behind it?

I am the second of four kids and have an older sister. My mom was hoping I would be a boy, so the name “Timmy” for a boy was still given to me as a girl. The spelling of my name came from the 1960s soulful singer-songwriter, Timi Yuro, who many may not recollect. I’ve only met one person in my life who instinctively recognized and associated the spelling of my name with Timi Yuro’s, and I was amazed.

You wrote, illustrated, and published In Search of the Sandman, which is based on a story you told your daughter. Do you hear from parents who read the book to their children?

I do, and it’s such an honor to have this picture book included in so many families’ libraries and for them to trust my storytelling to be a source of comfort for their kids at bedtime.

You featured your granddaughter Charlie in the book. Might she show up in future books? Could you envision writing books for older audiences as well?

Charlie’s featured in all my In Search of  books — In Search of the Gingerbread Man, and one still in the works, In Search of the Boogieman. At this early stage in my kid lit journey, I’m comfortable and happy with all there is to still learn with writing picture books, so I’m sticking with this younger audience for now.

Anything you can share at this point about In Search of the Boogieman?

Well, without giving too much away about the plot, Charlie bravely follows strange sounds she hears throughout the house, and stumbles upon something so fun and unexpected.

You have contributed artwork for the Black Lives Matter street mural and Metro Transit buses and shelters in Minneapolis, featuring the words “Community” and “Resilience.” Why did you focus on those words?

Producing artwork for these projects was my way of contributing to the community after the murder of George Floyd to get people engaged and talking — making inroads to the community in hopes of resilience. Art has a way of bringing different types of people to the same place where they gather around a piece of work to think, digest, and feel. Internal and external conversations naturally spawn from there.

You produced a virtual story time video series for the Ramsey County Library. Are you going to do more of those?

I actually just filmed one that will be a Ramsey County Library Facebook Live event on October 29 at 10:30 am. I’ll be reading my first traditionally published book, The Magic in Me!

Your day job is in nonprofit fundraising. Does that work scratch a different creative itch for you?

Absolutely. Grant writing is a type of storytelling. It involves similar challenges as picture book writing in a need to convey a message in a limited amount of space, and lots of wordsmithing.

What is next for you?

Oh, boy … quite a bit. As I mentioned earlier, I secured my first traditional publishing contract for the story, “The Magic In Me.” It’s a personalized rhyming book that celebrates diversity in many forms — skin, hair, traditions, language, and abilities. The child’s name and likeness are inserted throughout the story. The book is illustrated by Kamala Nair and will be published in early November 2021 by I See Me and in partnership with Crayola. I also have two completed manuscripts ready for illustration and self-publication. Kenya Make Some Room! is a funny story of how solutions to problems can be found in the most unlikely of places, and we can reach great heights when we work together. The animals’ names in the story use the Swahili word for the breed, incorporating a bit of nonfiction into the story. I see my illustration style working well for this book. Nana’s Magic Cornbread Spoon is an endearing story written in prose showing the powerful connection between food, family, and tradition. My illustration style isn’t what I envision for this story, so I will look for an illustrator for this project.