WILL WRITE FOR COOKIES
INSIGHT – INFORMATION – INSPIRATION
Going to writing conferences rocks! You attend great workshops. You listen to amazing presentations. You learn so much. One of the best perks, though, is that you meet incredible people.
I connected with award-winning author/illustrator Christopher Cheng at the AFCC/SCBWI conference in Singapore last May. His presentations sing…his books sparkle. When I asked him if he would participate in Will Write for Cookies…and he said YES…I’m sure he was able to hear my happy hip hip hooray – all the way on the other side of the world!
Chris is a sought-after speaker for SCBWI and other groups…and travels all over the world – he just returned from the Bologna and London book fairs. If you check out his website, you’ll find his blog where he shares what he sees and hears at these conferences.
Chris…I’m so happy you could do this. I know that everyone is anxious to hear more about you.
Who were your favorite authors/illustrators when you were a child?
CS Lewis, CS Lewis, CS Lewis (I still have my very first copies) – oh and very early on … A.A Milne
What do you know now that you wish you had known when you first started writing for children?
That it is so much fun … and lots of work too!
Where do you like to write/draw – inside, outside, a special area in your home, on the computer, in a notebook?
I have notebooks that go everywhere with me and then when each is filled – on one side only, the opposite side *might* be needed for rewrites and further drafts – it sits on the self. my current note book will join the other 10 that are sitting there sometime this year. And sometimes to that ideas book gets added newspaper clippings and headlines that i think might make a good story!
ALL of my books have started this way and they are all drafted in the ideas book … novels that i write start here and then get their own draft book! I write in PENCIL for the first draft and then that goes to the computer for the redrafting and the redrafting and the redrafting! Do you get the idea that there are a lot of rewrites!
When during the day (or night) are you most productive? Do you set a schedule for working or do you write/draw when the muse speaks?
This is a JOB (albeit the BEST job in the world)! I have office hours for writing and so write once my wife heads off to school (she is a teacher librarian – lucky me!) and after I have done the administrivia – yes there are those tasks to do too that are part of being a children’s writer then I sit down to write … although the ideas come at any time and go into idea book when ever they come …
With wife, Bini, and cousin, fashion designer Barney Cheng, in Hong Kong.
Why do you write for children?
- Because I still think like a child (when will you grow up they say).
- I stopped growing up at 14 years of age!
- I love it!
- I guess I am writing for children … but I am also writing for the child in ME!
Really there is only – enjoy what you do. If you don’t enjoy the writing/illustrating or the processes that they require then maybe you should think about something else. Life is too short to not enjoy what you do! And attached to that is write and rewrite and rewrite and rewrite. It is rare that a first draft is the final copy. Most of us spend countless hours crafting! And don’t forget love what you do and the children for who we are writing. This is such an amazing job and to write for children is a hugely honourable and privileged profession. Oh and don’t forget to read too … and maybe ask yourself …what are the children reading?
Okay…there you go…not one tip – but a few!
WANT TO KNOW MORE ABOUT CHRIS? HERE’S THE SCOOP!
Christopher Cheng is co-chair of the SCBWI International Advisory Board, an Advisory Board Member for the Asian Festival of Children’s Content (AFCC), and devised the Crystal Kite Awards. He is the recipient of the Lady Cutler Award for Children’s Literature and a passionate advocate for children’s literature and its creators. His picture book Python was shortlisted in the 2013 Children’s Book Council of the Year awards and is listed as of “Outstanding Merit” in the 2014 edition of Best Books of the Year for Children and Young Adults, selected by the Children’s Book Committee at the Bank Street College of Education. He has been published for more than 25 years and his most recent picture book Water is now translated into Tamil, Hindi and shortly Chinese, and soon to be an ebook.
AND HERE IS HIS CONTACT INFORMATION
His website is a wealth of info and links to other resources and a wonderful blog…check it out. He writes about the conferences he attends, schools he visits, authors and illustrators he knows and other neat stuff!:
You can find some of Chris’ books on Amazon.
And I noticed he has a link to The 12 Days of Christmas, twelve posts about Christmas traditions of various authors and illustrators…and one of those is a post about Julie Hedlund’s illustrator for My Love for You is the Sun, Susan Eaddy: http://www.chrischeng.com/2014/01/12-days-christmas-susan-eaddy.html
Chris…I know everyone joins me in thanking you so very much for sharing all of this with us. I have to ask…did you coin the word – administrivia…I absolutely love it…the perfect word for all the stuff we have to deal with before we can get down to doing what we love…writing for children! And I also want to thank you so much for contributing not one, but two awesome recipes…YUM!
Here’s what Chris says about these treats:
The first is the Christmas Cake – I love baking and this is just about the best and these are presented for my friends!
The second is the Anzac Biscuit – this is a traditional biscuit (cookie for USA folks) that was made for our servicemen (the women weren’t in the trenches then) while serving not eh battlefields. And seeing as Anzac Day is the 25th of April, this is most appropriate!
250g (9oz) raisins
60g (2oz) mixed peel
250g (9oz) sultanas
250g (9oz) currants
1/4 cup brandy
250g (9oz) unsalted butter
1 1/4 cup light brown sugar
Grated rind one orange
1 cup plain four
1 teaspoon mixed spice
1 teaspoon ground ginger
125 g (4.5oz) soft white breadcrumbs
Couple of desert spoons of plum jam
- Soak fruit in brandy overnight
- Cream butter till soft add sugar and orange rind and beat
- Add eggs one at time
- Into big bowl sift in flour and spices, fold in sugar-butter mix, stir in breadcrumbs and fruit mix.
- Line bottom of pudding basin with greased baking paper that covers base then pour mixture into well greased pudding basin.
- Cover top with circle of greased baking paper.
- Cover pudding with large sheet of baking paper with pleat in centre and tie firmly with string. Place a plate on top to hold down paper.
- Place in boiling water that should come halfway up the side of the pudding bowl.
- Boil for 6 hours. Keep topping up water.
- Remove from water.
1 cup rolled oats
3/4 cup dessicated coconut
1 cup plain flour
1 1/2 teaspoon bicarb soda
2 tablespoons boiling water
1 cup sugar
125g (4oz) butter
1 tablespoons golden syrup
- Combine rolled oats, sifted flour, sugar and coconut
- Combine butter & golden syrup. stir over gentle heat until melted.
- Mix bicarb soda with boiling water, add to melted butter mixture, stir into dry ingredients
- Spoon dessertspoonfuls of mixture on to greased proof oven trays
- Allow room for spreading.
- Bake in slow oven for 20 minutes
- Cool on tray.
If you have the time, I am on Marcie Atkins blog today
Please come back on Monday for Monday Writing Magic
An author/illustrator writing process blog hop
I’m tagging FOUR authors who may be new faces to all of you.
Don’t miss it!
An excellent interview, Vivian, and terrific pictures!
Glad you enjoyed it, Marylin! Chris was awesome to provide so many photos!
Great interview, Vivian and Chris! Yes, writing is the best job and so enjoyable!
Thanks, Tina…I was so happy when Chris agreed to participate…his joy and passion for writing are evident in his books…and in his advice, as well. 🙂
fantastic interview. thanks. I am off to follow Christopher Cheng 🙂
His blog is worthy of following, Cecilia…I’m glad you are adding Chris to your blog list. I love reading his posts after he has been to conferences in other parts of the world…it’s like having been there myself. 😉
The advice to always enjoy what we do is excellent! Writing for kids is both a privilege and a joy. Such fun learning about Chris…but most of all, thank you, Chris, for the recipes! I just love to bake. 🙂
You are a terrific interviewer, Vivian!
That is very kind of you, Teresa! Maybe one day you will give me a chance to interview you. 🙂 🙂 I would love that!
Fun and inspiring interview, Chris and Vivian!
Thank you, Chris, from the bottom of my baker’s heart for sharing your recipes 😀
Don’t those recipes look yummy, Lori? I will definitely try the Christmas Pudding this winter. 🙂
Great interview! Good to know that someone as experienced as Christopher still needs to rewrite and rewrite and rewrite! And I was delighted at the final step in each recipe. “Eat.” !!!
Thank you both!
That a good point, Beth…rewrite/revise over and over…I’m always amazed at how the story can change each time. 🙂
Wonderful interview! I never tire of hearing from authors and illustrators about their process.
I agree, Penny! Each one has their own special tips and techniques to share. 😉
Thanks for the interview. Great advice about enjoying what you do.
Thanks, Sylvia! I think Chris hit the nail on the head…if you are not enjoying it, it’s not the right ‘job’ for you. 😉
Vivian, great series! And you have a knack for netting great interviews 🙂
Look forward to the next!
Wonderful interview, Vivian! He sounds like such a nice man and I am eager to check out his books. I am also fascinated by the pudding cake that boils for 6 hours!
Great interview, Vivian and Christopher! It’s always such fun to hear about other artists’ process!
Lucky Chris…he gets to travel all over the world…talking about what he loves. 🙂
I love the advice here. I do find that when I’m having fun writing, it comes through in the story. The revision is a lot of work of course, but still enjoyable and satisfying. Great interview, Vivian!
Thanks, Carrie…so glad you enjoyed it! And I agree…when you are having fun writing and are fully invested in the story, people can tell. 🙂
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