Dana Montevideo, Managing Editor
Pierce College alumnus James Hesketh (‘17) brought his obsession of childhood stories to life by writing, illustrating and publishing Mean Words: A Small Story about Heavy Words, a children’s book about a young girl who suffers from back pains because she carries around mean words in her backpack all day.
“It’s so weird to like hold (the book) and look at it and see other people read it, because it’s something that’s been in my head for like three years,” Hesketh said, “It’s weird to work so long on something that people will enjoy in about five minutes.”
The title of the book encompasses the storyline, but part of Hesketh’s process was deciding what to call his story. He had Mean Words, better title TBD, but never came up with a title he liked more. Although he couldn’t find a different title, over time it became part of the story.
Although Hesketh has had this idea for many years, it only took him about six months to execute.
“I feel like stuff we want to do, we can try really hard, but sometimes we just need to wait till we’re grown up enough to do it,” Hesketh said, “Like, I really wanna open a food truck, but I know that’s something I’ll probably have to wait on.”
The longest process for Hesketh was deciding how to illustrate his protagonist.
“I spent probably a year of just doodling off and on, like probably a hundred different character designs until this just felt right, even though it’s so simple,” Hesketh said.
Hesketh started illustrating cartoons early, and his mom would write the punch lines. Art is a big part of his life.
“I feel like everyone has something they need to do, and drawing is what I need to do,” Hesketh said.
Hesketh’s only aspiration in life was to publish a children’s book. It was his first introduction to literature, and has held onto that for his whole life.
“I think telling a story in as little words and pictures as possible is like the coolest thing ever,” Hesketh said. “I think the people that can cut away the slack more and more, and cut away the fat, you have the most basic story in its crystal form.”
Hesketh’s biggest inspiration is children’s author James Marshall and his book, The Cut Ups.
“I feel like it’s a travesty that he’s not seen alongside Maurice Sendak and Dr. Suess,” Hesketh said. “His children’s books are just the greatest books of all time.”
Hesketh wanted to follow in the footsteps of the childhood authors he’s grown to admire, and was able to publish his book to Amazon. This is his first experience publishing an entire book.
“(Publishing) was a lot of me looking up YouTube tutorials and reading message boards from like 2010 from people who have done this before,” Hesketh said.
10 percent of the proceeds from book sells go to Puerto Rican disaster relief.
Hesketh says Mean Words is his trial book, just to get his foot in the literary door and put out one of his stories as his first official published book. Although the book has changed his life, he sometimes gets nervous with so much attention.
“If I am crumbling under this amount of fame, I was like “I can never be given any real fame, or any real recognition ever, or it will destroy me.’” Hesketh laughed. “I really value not being known.”
Hesketh plans to write several more books. Marley Needs to go to Jupiter by Thursday, The First 13 Things You May Find While Cleaning Your Closet and What to do With Them, and a project he is working on with a friend, The Giraffe and the Dinosaur, Better Title TBD.
“The Giraffe and the Dinosaur is a Romeo and Juliet story about prejudice and bigotry that takes place in prehistoric times,” Hesketh said.
Cleaning Your Closet is an idea Hesketh has had since he was 8 years old, and the moment he approved Mean Words to be published, the whole story came to him.
Marley Needs to go to Jupiter by Thursday is a story about a little girl who is a rocket scientist and must trek through jungles, mountains ranges and the ocean to reach her launch site by deadline.
Since publishing his first book, Hesketh admits that his life has changed quite a bit. He believes the process has made him a better person.
“If there’s anything I’m proud of about this book, it’s not the actual book itself or the illustrations,” Hesketh said. “It’s just the fact that I completed it. This has given me the motivation to complete so many more things in my life.”
Hesketh is also interested in making movies, videos and doing stand-up around the country. His main goal is just to make content for the people that he loves to enjoy.
“Just do something. Anyone that wants to do something, don’t talk about doing something, just do something,” Hesketh said. “Do literally anything. Doing anything is the best.”
The Puyallup Post is the award-winning student news of Pierce College Puyallup in Puyallup, Washington. Copyright The Puyallup Post 2017. Twitter/Instagram @puyalluppost
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