Isabella Kung

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1.     When you were my age (11), did you like to read?
Yes! I loved reading. I remember being obsessed with fairy tales, mythologies, Roald dahl books,  spooky books, choose-your-own-adventure books, and also comics! Some in Chinese, but mostly in English. Books were a great escape from the compacted and dense concrete city (Hong Kong) for me. 

2.     What is a book that made an impact on you? Just one? It is simply too hard to narrow down to one. Can I name three?My most memorable picture book from my childhood is The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales written by Jon Scieszka and illustrated by Lane Smith, it was the first picture book that made me laugh so hard, my stomach hurt! Experiencing a picturebook so hilarious and interactive made a long-lasting impression on me.My most beloved children’s book is The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. I read this for the very first time around 11 or 12 years old, I thought it was fun and charming. Then when I was 18 or 19, I read it a second time, the words brought me to tears, happy tears. I read it for the third time in my mid-twenties and it moved me yet again. Each time I reread it, I relate to the story, characters, and ideas in much deeper ways and I fall in love with this book all over again.And finally, the book that inspired me the most is Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak. This book tapped into all of our inner-child. Maurice Sendak himself and his career inspired me so much when I was just starting on the path of Children’s Books. 

3.     Is it hard to come up with book ideas?
 Yes and no. I have quite a few book ideas in the works right now, most of them are inspired by events or experiences from my own life. Good ideas have a tendency to linger in my thoughts and I have learned to take note of them to develop later. The hardest part is actually turning these ideas into a good story, not all of them work, at least not immediately. Sometimes a good book idea will bounce around in my head for years before I am able to figure out a way to write and illustrate it.

4.     You are debuting in a weird time. What is it like? It is such a weird time! I have spent a lot of time on social media, virtual readings and visits, interviews, and emails. All of my original plans to celebrate or do author visits in person are of course canceled. I’m so grateful we at least have the technology to connect and promote virtually, but I miss interacting with kids! Even on live zoom or Instagram events, I don’t get to see kids. I can’t wait to hear kids scream NO FUZZBALL! with me one day! Hopefully next year!

5.     Are there other authors debuting right now you think kids should be aware of? Oh, so many! I am part of an amazing debut group called Soaring 20’s. I am so impressed and inspired by my group’s talents and wonderful stories!
Here are a few other debut humorous books:
The Elephants’ Guide To Hide-And-Seek by Kjersten Hayes, illustrated by Gladys Jose-Fabii
Chicken Little: The Real and Totally True* Tale by Sam Wedelich
Soaked by Abi Cushman
Dozen of Doughnuts by Carrie Finison, illustrated by  Brianne Farley
Lillybelle, A Damsel Not In Distress by Joana Pastro, illustrated by Jhon Ortiz

.     What advice do you have for a kid who wants to be an author? Keep reading! Read as much as you can, it’s fun and your amazing brain will learn what you love from each story without you even realizing it.Keep writing! Write what you know, write what you love, write what you hate, and write the impossible! Don’t worry if it didn’t turn how you want it to at first, that’s what revisions are for. Professional writers’ first drafts are usually pretty bad too! And you still don’t like it after rewriting it, that’s okay too, you don’t have to show it to anyone. Writing can just be for ourselves sometimes. 

7.     As an author, do you hear from your readers? What do you like about that?
So far, I’ve heard from amazing book reviewers, teachers, and librarians! It always fills my heart with joy hearing that they laughed out loud from my book or love my Queen No Fuzzball! It is a tremendous feeling after waiting a year for it to be printed and officially published! Now I can’t wait to hear from kids think when they get their own copies! I wrote my book for kids, and hearing their excitement or love for my book will be the ultimate reward!

8.     You are also an illustrator. What is that like?I was actually an illustrator first. I went to the Academy of Art University and majored in traditional illustration. When I graduated, I illustrated for many different kinds of projects for years, before I started writing and illustrating my own stories. I love illustrating and being able to tell a story or communicate a message visually. Illustrating is like a universal language that anyone can understand. Plus, drawing and painting are so much fun, you get to create your own world and fill it with whatever you want!

9.     If you could portal into any book (yours or another person’s), what book would it be? This is a fantastic question and not an easy one to figure out! While I would love to meet the Wild Things from Where the Wild Things Are, diving into David Wiesner’s  Flotsam seems too good to pass up! He created a world of underwater magic with robot fish, pufferfish air balloons, tiny aliens visiting sea horses and seashell and coral cities with mermaids! I just want to scuba dive into that book and explore it all!

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