- Guest Author -
Today, I interview another Australian author who writes picture books. A.S. Chung is a mother of a young toddler, blogger and recently added author of children’s picture books to her repertoire. A recent divorce inspired her to create Pigeonhole Books, which is a gentle resource to deal with life’s challenges. It was a way to communicate with her daughter and show her that life continues after difficult times. She has a great desire to preach positive messages and the importance of love and family to young children. Therefore, Pigeonhole Books is a project very close to her heart. Apart from the topic of divorce, Pigeonhole Books also deals with important subjects such as same-sex, blended and multiracial families.
Welcome, A. S. ...
1. TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOURSELF AND YOUR WRITING JOURNEY.
I am a mother of a young toddler, blogger and author of children’s picture books. A recent divorce inspired me to create Pigeonhole Books, which is a gentle resource to deal with life’s challenges. My first book, A Brand New Day, was written as a way to communicate with her daughter and show her that life continues after difficult times. A Brand New Day recently won the 2015 National Indie Excellence® Awards.
I have a great desire to preach positive messages and the importance of love and family to young children. Therefore, Pigeonhole Books is a project very close to my heart. Apart from the topic of divorce, Pigeonhole Books also deals with same-sex, blended and multiracial families. My second book Wishful Wedding was recently published in June 2015, which is my first LGBTQ children’s literature dealing with marriage equality and same gender marriage.
2. WHAT TYPE OF PREPARATION DO YOU DO FOR A MANUSCRIPT? DO YOU PLAN EVERYTHING FIRST OR JUST SHOOT FROM THE HIP?
As I am a picture book writer, I just go for it! My books are generally less than 300 words so I just start writing and then worry about the structure and formatting later. So far it seems to have worked well for me as it all fits on one A4 piece of paper!
3. WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT BEING A WRITER?
I love being able to put on paper, what I have in my head. I am always astonished with the finished product, “I wrote that??”
4. DO YOU HAVE A PREFERRED WRITING SCHEDULE?
No I don’t. I write when I’m in the mood as I find I am most productive then. Whenever I have planned some time aside to do some writing, I have hardly ever produced anything worth even editing!
5. WHO IS YOUR FAVOURITE AUTHOR AND WHY?
The great man himself, Paulo Coelho. When I got a divorce, I turned to Paulo Coelho’s spiritual words to get through that difficult phase in my life and in many ways allowed the slow minutes become beautiful days. This turning of events and the realisation how books can be so powerful, ignited my need to write and hence the commencement of a very new chapter in my life.
6. WRITERS ARE SOMETIMES INFLUENCED BY THINGS THAT HAPPEN IN THEIR OWN LIVES. ARE YOU?
Absolutely and that is exactly how I came to start writing children’s picture books. As mentioned above, I went through a divorce and it became a very tumultuous time. I was most concerned about my daughter and wanted to shelter her from the unavoidable difficulties. At the time, she was too young to really understand the ramifications of divorce but old enough to know something was amiss. I was then inspired to create Pigeonhole Books, which is a gentle resource to deal with life’s challenges. These picture books are designed for young children who come from divorce, same-sex, blended and multicultural families.
7. OTHER THAN WRITING, WHAT ELSE DO YOU LOVE?
I love organising social occasions and have done many over my lifetime, purely with the knowledge that I was making a friend happy during their milestone celebrations. I love entertaining my friends, as we sit around a table and converse all day. Travel is definitely on the top of my list and with a young child in tow now, she has opened up the world in a very different way.
8. WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS FOR THE FUTURE?
Continue to write as long as I have the passion, energy and imagination. Well, finances too but let’s not damper the mood!
9. DO YOU SEE YOURSELF IN ANY OF YOUR CHARACTERS?
In all of my divorce series of picture books, I am the separated parent, trying very hard to keep it together and provide my child with a loving and safe environment to grow up in. Hoping that the divorce doesn’t affect her traumatically and that she understands whilst we are a separated family, she is very much loved and a number one priority in our lives.
HOW WOULD YOU DEFINE ‘SUCCESS’ AS A WRITER.
When readers tell me what a difference the book has made to their lives and that they believe it will help others.
10. HOW MUCH THOUGHT GOES INTO DESIGNING A BOOK COVER?
The natural answer for a picture book would be “a lot!”. However, I work with an amazing illustrator who has the ability to translate the vision and objective of the book into beautiful art. Her first drafts were amazing enough so I just said “yes!”.
11. WRITING IS ONE THING. WHAT ABOUT MARKETING YOU, YOUR BOOKS AND YOUR BRAND? ANY THOUGHTS?
That is a big question. Book marketing is not for the faint hearted and is relentless. You have to be a player and a constant one at that. I have currently committed myself to blogging 100 marketing tips on my blog, Pigeonhole Books over the next year both as a learning curve as well as helping other indie authors out there. http://pigeonholebooks.com/category/100-online-book-marketing-tips/
12. ARE YOUR BOOKS SELF-PUBLISHED?
Yes they are! I didn’t explore traditional publishing as I wanted full control of the story as well as the accompanying illustrations. Self-publishing has never been easier but of course it comes with hard work. I am however, loving the journey thus far.
13. WHAT IS THE TITLE OF THE LAST BOOK YOU READ? GOOD ONE?
I am in the midst of Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mocking Bird. Reading it again, for inspiration and beautiful writing.
A BRAND NEW DAY BOOK: WHERE TO PURCHASE
BARNES & NOBLE:
WHAT IS THE BOOK ABOUT:
A Brand New Day: A Banana Split Story is a children's picture book about divorce. It tells the story of a little girl who has to split her time between two homes so that she can spend time with her mother and father throughout the week. The book is written in gentle rhyme accompanied by beautiful artwork with a muted colour palette.
The story also introduced the concept of a blended family as the little girl inherits a step brother. The story never once mentions the word "divorce" and presents this life challenge in a positive light. The book was written to demonstrate that despite being in divorce family, the child can still create special moments with each parent and still be very loved.
“Mondays and Tuesdays are fun, going on cooking adventures with Dad. We look forward to Wednesdays and Thursday too when we get to be a green thumb with Mum. Don’t forget the holidays! Spring breaks with Mum and hot summers camping with Dad. Each day is a truly special day!”
Clancy's comment: Thank you, A. S. Mm ... You sound as passionate as me in what you write for kids. Good for you, and well done on winning an award for A Brand New Day. You must be doing something right - write!