I am so excited to share this interview. I finally connected with Grace Lin. Now my goal is to meet in person!
Come back tomorrow to read my review of her newest book!
Tell me a little about yourself:
Let’s see, I’m an author/illustrator probably best known for doing books featuring Asian characters. It’s a niche that I’m proud of as I feel like I am a creating the childhood books that I needed but never had.
When you were my age, did you like to read?
Yes! I was always a big reader. My parents were immigrants and while they did not read aloud to us, going to the library was very important. For a while, we would go to the public library everyday after dinner and I read a lot.
What was your favorite story?
At the age 7, I remember reading and loving these very old series about triplets–“Snip, Snapp and Snurr” and “Flicka, Dicka, and Ricka,” which inspired my “Ling & Ting” books. I also read the “Betsy” and “Eddie” books by Carolyn Haywood and loved those. When I got a bit older, I loved “The Search for Delicious,” by Natalie Babbit and “Oz” books (not just “The Wizard of Oz,” the whole series; those are all books that have inspired my various novels. But my favorite book of all is probably, “Anne of Green Gables.”
How do you get your ideas?
Hmm, each book has a different inspiration. Sometimes it’s something I saw on a trip, sometimes (a lot of the times) it’s something I read, sometimes it’s something that happens. I guess my ideas just come from my life!
Is it hard to write a book?
Well, it’s not easy. It’s takes a lot of perseverance, focus, self-discipline and time. But writing is also a lot of dreaming and thinking, which is fun and a kind of magic in itself. So, it’s work, but it can be fun work.
Do you have a favorite among the books you have written/illustrated?
Right now, my favorite is “When the Sea Turned to Silver” probably because it is my newest. I really try to get better with each book, so I think it is my best! It’s another companion to “Where the Mountain Meets the Moon” and it was the most challenging books of all the books I’ve written. I wanted to make sure it was an exciting story that stood on it’s own but still had threads that connected to “Where the Mountain Meets the Moon” and “Starry River of the Sky.” It was real puzzle to figure out and took me six (!) years, but I did it and I’m kind of proud.
What author do you really like right now?
Well, I just finished an advanced reading copy of “Cilla Lee-Jenkins: Future Author Extraordinaire”, by Susan Tan–I think it will be her debut–and I liked it very much. I also really liked “Sophie Quire, the Last Storyguard” by Jonathan Auxier. But my right now, I am reading “Winnie the Pooh” with my four-year old daughter and I am rediscovering how beautifully written they are and am filled with admiration for AA Milne.
What advice do you have for a kid who wants to be an author?
I think every author will tell you the same thing–READ! Almost all my books have been partially influenced by the books I’ve read. Even books that I thought I didn’t like have inspired my most popular stories. So reading as much as possible is the first step to becoming an author–luckily it’s an easy and fun one!
Check out Grace’s TedxNatick Talk