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Cece Bell

As a child

I was born in Richmond, Virginia, in 1970. I have an older brother and an older sister who drew a lot, so I learned a lot from watching them. I was a pretty competitive little kid, and was always trying to draw better than they did. In 1975 I got really sick with meningitis and had to be in a hospital for two weeks. I drew hundreds of pictures of the same thing: a green-faced little girl standing under a rainbow. During that two weeks, I lost most of my hearing, and soon after had to be outfitted with hearing aids. Soon after, it was time to go to Kindergarten, so I went to a school in Richmond that was for deaf and hearing-impaired students. I did well enough that year that when we moved to Salem, Virginia the next year, I got to go to first grade with kids who did not have any hearing loss. I had to wear an enormous, and powerful, hearing aid, and my teacher wore a microphone that amplified her voice. The great thing about it was, I could hear the teacher no matter where she was in the entire school – in conferences, smoking in the teachers' lounge, using the bathroom! Lots of material for my twisted imagination. In the end, I probably focused on drawing because it was a visual thing. I didn't have to be able to hear to get good at it. I still remember the books I received during this period of illness and recovery, and they are a couple of my favorites still: Our Animal Friends at Maple Hill Farm, by the Provensens, and The Meanest Squirrel I Ever Met, by Gene Zion and Margaret Bloy Graham. Good stuff! GREAT stuff!

As an adult

I studied art at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, VA. I met my future husband there, the writer Sam Riddleburger (The QwikPick Adventure Society, and Stonewall Hinkleman and the Battle of Bull Run). I got a Master's Degree in Illustration and Graphic Design from Kent State University in Kent, Ohio. I then worked in packaging and advertising for a small company that made pet supplies, and then became a freelance illustrator and designer for local and national clients (my favorite being Binney and Smith, the makers of Crayola crayons). I sort of stumbled upon writing accidentally: I had too good a story about my own sock monkey that I really wanted to illustrate, so I wrote it up myself. My life as a writer and illustrator just kind of took off from there. I have two sons, aged 5 and 3, and four crazy dogs. I can't believe I have four crazy dogs.

As an artist

I work in a small barn that I purchased from Home Depot a few years ago. I hired a very nice man to wire it and finish it for me. It's a great place to work, mostly because the space belongs to me, and me only. No boys allowed!

Things you didn't know about Cece Bell

  1. She really likes interesting pickles.
  2. She can whistle the Andy Griffith theme song fairly well.
  3. She is terrified of airplanes.
  4. And riding on elevators.
  5. She lives in the country, across from a river and the train tracks.
  6. She does not like taking pictures, or having her picture taken.
  7. She is a terrible square dancer, but enjoys it anyway.
  8. She likes the way dogs smell.
  9. She likes throwing parties, and making punch.
  10. She tries to like winter, but it is too long.

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