|© K. Woodard Photography|
April 22, 2016
Welcome to Kidlt411 co-founder Sylvia Liu in the Author Spotlight! Her debut picture book, A MORNING WITH GRANDPA, illustrated by Christina Forshay (Lee & Low Books), is coming on May 1.
Be sure to enter her giveaway of a signed copy of her book and stay tuned for her blog tour that begins with this post.
|Sylvia's cat, Apollo, guarding her box of author copies|
Congratulations on winning the 2013 NEW VOICES Award from Lee and Low for A MORNING WITH GRANDPA. What an accomplishment! Can you tell us a little about the call that you had won?
It was so exciting. When my editor Jessica Echeverria introduced herself, my first thought was that I was a runner up, because it didn't occur to me that I could be the winner. After the call, I danced around the house and called my husband and parents. I was sworn to secrecy for another three weeks, which was really hard. I didn't even tell my critique group.
A MORNING WITH GRANDPA is your debut picture book. What was one surprising thing you learned about the publication process during the making of this book?
The story is about a grandfather (Gong Gong) and his granddaughter (Mei Mei) spending time together, teaching each other tai chi and yoga. She's hyper and he's not as bendy as she is, but they have a grand time.
I was pleasantly surprised by how thorough the editing process was. My manuscript went through many drafts after it was accepted, and each time it was thoroughly edited. Over the course of the months, the story got better and better. It's humbling to have an editor care as much about the story as I do.
You are an author/illustrator as well as a lawyer. How supportive have your parents and family been of your career change? When did you decide to make the switch?
My parents and family have always supported me, and I'm grateful for that.
Since college, I knew I would first have a respectable career and then a creative career (because at 20, I wasn't ready to buck the received wisdom to make the most of my academic credentials). In college, I studied a practical major but took studio art courses. As a lawyer, I took night classes in art and illustration.
In my mind, I would practice law in my 20s and turn to illustration in my 30s. Between enjoying the law (protecting the environment at the U.S. Department of Justice and the nonprofit Oceana) and starting a family, the timetable slipped. I made the switch to illustration ten years ago, in my mid-30s. I started writing my own stories about five or six years ago.
Give us an insight into your main character. What does Mei Mei and Grandpa do that is so special?
Mei Mei is like so many kids--curious, fun-loving, and a sponge soaking up new experiences. She and Gong Gong have a fun, teasing relationship. It doesn't matter if neither of them quite "gets" what the other is teaching because the important thing is that they are together.
Your book involves tai chi and yoga. How much research did you have to do when writing it?
I have practiced a tiny bit of yoga and tai chi, enough to know I didn't know a lot about either. I took classes, read, and watched videos to describe the poses in the story. I've watched my dad do tai chi since I was young, so I was comfortable writing about it.
What advice would you give to your more inexperienced writer self?
Connect with the kid lit community, take courses, and go to more writing conferences earlier in your career. I spent a lot of time spinning my wheels working in isolation. Once I connected with others and found a critique group, my writing improved by leaps and bounds.
If you could have been the original author of any book, what would it have been and why?
What a hard question! I love so many books, and I don't think I could be the original author of any of them, as they are inherently someone else's work. But I would love to inhabit picture book author-illustrator Shaun Tan's mind sometime. His books are magnificent (especially THE RABBITS, THE ARRIVAL, and THE LOST THING).
What projects are you working on now?
I am revising some picture books and dummies, revising a middle grade story, and writing a fun new chapter book idea. And working through a conceptual illustration project that includes this image:
|© Sylvia Liu|
A MORNING WITH GRANDPA BLOG TOUR
I am pleased to announce the start of the blog tour for A MORNING WITH GRANDPA. Over the next few weeks, please stop by these blogs to learn more about Christina Forshay, me, and our new book.
Also, visit our book trailer at Mr. Schu's Watch. Connect. Read. Here's the blog tour schedule:
April 22 - Kick off here at this post at Kidlit411
April 25 - Design of the Picture Book (with Carter Higgins)
April 27 - Miss Marple's Musings (with Joanna Marple)
April 29 - Susanna Leonard Hill
May 1 - 12 x 12 Featured Author (with Julie Hedlund)
May 2 - Inky Girl (Debbie Ohi)
May 3 - Tuesday Tours (Christina Forshay with Andrea Skyberg)
May 4 - NaPiBoWriWee (with Paula Yoo)
May 5 - Writing and Illustrating (with Kathy Temean)
May 9 - My First Picture Book Q & A (with Karlin Gray)
May 10 - ReFoReMo (with Carrie Charley Brown)
May 11 - Three Show Saturday (with Kizzy Roberts)
May 12 - All the Wonders (with Matthew Winner)
May 13 - No Water River (Reneé LaTulippe)
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