Posted by: Kathy Temean | May 14, 2020

Book Giveaway: MIA MAYHEM by Leeza Hernandez

We have another book giveaway treat. Leeza Hernadez is giving away a signed six book set of her MIA MAYHEM book series to one lucky winner. All you have to do to get in the running is leave a comment. Reblog, tweet, or talk about it on Facebook with a link and you will get additional chances to win. Just let me know the other things you do to share the good news, so I can put in the right amount of tickets in my basket for you.

Sharing on Facebook, Twitter, reblogging really helps spread the word for a new book. Thanks for helping Leeza, especially at this stressful time when authors and illustrators need to promote their books completely online.

If you have signed up to follow my blog and it is delivered to you everyday, please let me know when you leave a comment and I will give you an extra ticket. Thanks!


Join Mia Mayhem on her awesome adventures as she enrolls in a top-secret superhero academy, learns to fly, races against a super bully, and figures out how to control her super strength!

With easy-to-read language and illustrations on almost every page, the Mia Mayhem chapter books are perfect for emerging readers.

Below are the six titles:
Mia Mayhem Is a Superhero!
Mia Mayhem Learns to Fly!
Mia Mayhem vs. the Super Bully
Mia Mayhem Breaks Down Walls
Mia Mayhem Stops Time!
Mia Mayhem vs. the Mighty Robot

I Interviewed Leeza about her books. Enjoy:

How did the Mia Mayhem project come about?

Back in early 2018, my agent (Rachel Orr / Prospect Agency) shared an email she’d received from a designer at Simon and Schuster / Little Simon asking if I could create a sample character for a possible chapter book series. They provided a brief concept of the first book about a girl who discovers she’s a superhero and must attend superhero school.

These are some of the original sketches I submitted that became the starting point of Mia’s character. It was fun to imagine all the gadgets she might use as a superhero and of course I had to give her a sidekick cat, who I named Chaos.

After a few tweaks, Mia went to color. I explored a few palettes but kept coming back to this blue and yellow combo even though the other details of her supersuit weren’t quite finalized.

With some final adjustments and another round of color, Mia Macarooney (aka Mia Mayhem) was born! Looking back, not much has changed from these originals, just her gloves and boots.

Laura Roode, the designer at S&S and I met for dinner in New York and she gave me the good news that I’d gotten the project. Yay!

Did they keep the sidekick cat?

Yes! The team loved Chaos, although he went through a costume change, too. I originally submitted him as a black cat but we ended up going with a grey tabby and I believe he went from a him to a her. They loved Chaos so much that the adventure for Mia in book two “Mia Mayhem Learns to Fly” is centered around her cat’s crazy antics.

That’s Jaspurr our tabby at home who became the main source of reference for the Chaos character.

The series is written under the pseudonym Kara West. Is that you? How involved are you with the storylines of the books?

LOL, I didn’t write the books. I’m not Kara West. I actually don’t know who the writer is and I’m not really involved in any of the storylines.

Although it was exciting to see that book six “Mia Mayhem vs. The Mighty Robot” was inspired by the robots I added on Mia’s best friend Eddie Stein’s desk in his bedroom in book one “Mia Mayhem is a Superhero!” And I was lucky enough to name a new character who appears in book seven “Mia Mayhem and the X-Ray Specs” so that was cool! Come to think of it, I’m so busy illustrating the series, I’m not sure I’d actually have time to write them too.

How many Mia Mayhem books have you illustrated and how many illustrations are there in each book?

It’s been intense! To date: I’ve competed eight books. I just delivered interior sketches for book nine (the cover is done) and am working on revisions for the cover of book 10 which is also part of the same contract as book 11. Each book is 128 pages long comprising of ten chapters, and a tease to the next book in the series is included in the back matter. There are approximately 100 pages of greyscale art, but that’s a mix of little spots, vignettes, single-page and double-page illustrations. Some are made up of comic-book style panels, too, but not all of them.

Do you work in Procreate?

At times I wish I did, but no. I sketch with an HB pencil on paper, I paint my final lineart with Holbein Acryla-Gouache (I mix primary black and jet black) and Winsor & Newton Sceptre Gold Series II round brushes (sizes 00, 1 and 2) on either Bristol paper or mixed media paper (whatever I have in stock). My textures come from using an ink brayer, block-printing ink and sometimes, frisket (shown below). I create most of the shadows throughout the books with diluted India Ink and a brush. I scan everything in and collage the work in Adobe Photoshop meaning I piece it all together in layers. So, while I’m not illustrating digitally, per se (I don’t use digital brushes, etc) the final files I send to the publisher are Tiffs. The process might seem a little archaic but it’s what I’m most comfortable with and happiest doing.

How do you come up with the ideas for all those illustrations?

Thankfully, art notes are provided along with a galley of each book. This has two major advantages:

  1. The turnaround time is extremely tight (approx. 4-5 weeks for sketches and about a month for final art) so having art notes saves thinking time and lets me focus on execution.
  2. Chapter books are intended for emerging readers, so it’s vital for the visuals to repeat a lot of what’s being said in the text to aid in reading comprehension. I then add my stamp / style to the art either through humor or little visual sub plots, etc.

On occasion, many scenes will take place in one location such as Mia’s bedroom in book four “Mia Mayhem Knocks Down Walls” so I’ll make a basic model and photograph it from different angles for reference to help keep the illustrations varied and interesting for the reader.

 The art note for this page was to show Mia’s furniture stacked on top of each other in her room because she’s looking for something and can’t find it. My super-rough scribble on the left shows how I envisioned the illustration and the sketch on the right became the actual composition.

This primitive cardboard model—which was created to scale, including the furniture—helped me get to that composition and many others in the book.

When I visit schools, I take that bedroom model with me. The students love to know they don’t need do anything flash or high-tech to capture an idea.

What’s been the biggest learning curve working on the series?

Time management! S&S published the first six books within 12 months (two books a season) which meant I had a lot of adjusting to do to work within extremely tight deadlines. Laura has been great to work with, patient and supportive and Rachel has been right there for me too helping me stay on track. I didn’t start to feel comfortable with the pace and work flow until probably around book six. And now that S&S are releasing one book per season, the workload is a little more spread out and staggered so it’s manageable with my other projects and less stressful.

Thank you so much for having me on your blog, Kathy. I’ve come to truly love Mia, her friends and the adventures she embarks upon and can’t wait to see what the series has in store for her next!


Leeza Hernandez was born in the south of England. She’s lived in the USA since 1999 and currently works as an illustrator-author as well as art director at a local parenting magazine. Printmaking, textiles, sketching are some of her favorite ways to be creative alongside spending time with her husband, daughter and cheeky tabby cat Jaspurr-purr.

Her books include: Did You Burp? How to Ask Questions (Or Not!) written by April pulley Sayre (Charlesbridge); The Mia Mayhem series written by Kara West (S&S); This Is the Day! written by Amy Parker (Scholastic); Never Play Music Right Next to the Zoo (S&S) written by John Lithgow; Dog Gone! and Cat Napped! (G. P. Putnam’s Sons) and the Eat Your Homework series — Math, Science and U.S. History (Charlesbridge) written by Ann McCallum.

Leeza, thank you for sharing your books and answering my questions. I have the books and they are filled with so much fun and mayhem, I am sure young readers will love spending their time with Mia. Good luck with the books!

Leeza will be offering a webinar in the summer about illustrating chapter books. If you’re interested in learning more, sign up for her newsletter at

Talk tomorrow,



  1. This is so cool. Thank you for a chance!😍📚🥰🤗


  2. Gave wrong email address.🤪


    • I just tried it and it worked fine. I don’t know what to say. Where does it take you?


  3. I’m fascinated by the making of models and how that helps the process. I’m sure students would be very fascinated as well! I could see my granddaughter really getting into the building. Congrats! I will tweet this and I follow by email. 🙂


  4. These books look super! I would love to share them with kids! (I follow your blog through emails you send to me, Kathy. Thanks for doing that!)


  5. Loved learning about Leeza’s process for these delightful “girl-power” books.


  6. WOW! What an inspiration and fantastic female multicultural character. You broke the mold writing across cultures to the “every girl” that wants to be powerful and adventurous. As a Teacher is a diverse community this book will be a welcome addition to my book shelf. I will share this on my facebook page.


  7. Love you books. Thank you for a chance. I will be tweeting.


  8. Love your books. Thank you for a chance. I will be tweeting.


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