Author Spotlight: Ha-Giang Trinh
November 12, 2021
We are pleased to feature author Ha-Giang Trinh and her picture book, VY'S SPECIAL GIFT, illustrated by Evi Shelvia (Room to Read 2020). Read the story here!
Tell us about yourself and how you came to write for children.
I’m just a child who writes stories I would like to read. I started putting pen to paper when I was about nine. It was a necessary outlet for my hunger for more stories. Then I went to college, which happened to be situated near the offices of some local magazines for children. I sent them some of my stories. They liked them and I got paid. So I wrote more stories and have kept doing that ever since.
Congrats on your picture book, Vy's Special Gift! Tell us about the book and what inspired you.
Thank you! Vy’s Special Gift has a very special place in my heart. It tells the story of a little girl called Vy and how she got by during the pandemic. Although she tried to make the best out of everything coming her way, it wasn’t always easy. Especially when she had to face the consequences of the pandemic head-on.
I didn’t want to make Vy’s Special Gift a dark or feel-good story. I just wanted to be honest about what we’re all facing, especially about what the underprivileged children are facing. A survey in low-income communities by Room to Read shows one in every two girls is at risk of not returning to school. Their families’ livelihoods are suppressed and their future is compromised.
Then I saw a glint of hope in my homeland. Life in the pandemic was getting more difficult, but everyone was helping everyone else in whatever way they could. Neighbors were giving away food to each other. Companies were giving away free rice to whoever needed it. Tomorrow is still uncertain, but at least today’s hunger is lessened.
So I want to convey hope in Vy’s Special Gift. We’ll all get over this together, and the key to that may be acts of empathy. Small acts, big acts, it doesn’t matter as long as everyone does it in their own ways.
You published your book on Room to Read. Can you tell us about this platform?
Room to Read has an awesome program called Literacy Program where they train local authors and illustrators to make local picture books for local children. It has been my absolute honor to be part of the team helping underprivileged children get a better chance in life.
Besides publishing and donating the books directly to schools in rural areas, they have also been uploading them to their own free online library. Any children can access it and read any stories they like in their own languages.
What are you working on now?
I just finished three stories for Room to Read this year besides Vy’s Special Gift. This means I have written four stories for them within a span of fewer than 12 months. This is a new record for me.
What advice would you give to other aspiring authors?
The same advice I keep telling myself: It only counts when you write. So keep writing. And write some more. You write something good? Great. You write something bad? Even greater. You get that out of the system so the good stuff can come in.
What is one thing most people don't know about you?
I can enjoy very random and very different things. For example, the painting “The Goldfish” by Paul Klee, the manga The Way of the Househusband, by Oono Kousuke, the novel Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand, the game “Pokémon Black and White,” the song “Mad World” sung by Adam Lambert. I came across them all by chance. I never know what I would find interesting next.
Where can people find you online?
Giang has devoured many books like a very hungry caterpillar. Her mind is constantly in wonderlands, thinking about the places she’ll go to next. She has chosen writing as a means to where the wild things are. When Giang doesn’t write, she enjoys walks with the wind in the willows.