WILL WRITE FOR COOKIES
INSIGHT – INFORMATION – INSPIRATION
I’ve been a supporter of Room-to-Read for many years. It’s a fantastic organization that helps provide opportunities for education to children who otherwise would not have them – with an emphasis on girls’ education and literacy in Asia and Africa. Then I discovered that Room-to-Read had partnered with The Peace Studio, an organization founded by Barack Obama’s sister, Maya Soetoro, to publish diverse books by diverse authors and illustrators. And when I connected with Giang Trinh, whose picture book manuscript was chosen and published by Room-to-Read and The Peace Studio, I knew I wanted to turn the Will Write for Cookies spotlight on her.
ME: Welcome, Giang. We are so excited to have you here today.
GIANG: Thank you for having me, Vivian.
ME: I know everyone wants to find out more about you and your book – so we’ll start the Q&A right away.
ME: Who were your favorite authors/illustrators when you were a child?
GIANG: Definitely Roald Dahl and Quentin Blake. I really like it that Roald Dahl wrote “realistic” stories where your parents could be evil (Matilda) and spoiled kids could be punished (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory). Quentin Blake’s quirky illustration made everything incredibly charming, even the bad characters like the witches (The Witches). I mean, they looked scary to me, but I didn’t mind looking at them.
ME: What do you know now that you wish you knew when you first started writing?
GIANG: Your first ideas might not be your best. It can, but it doesn’t have to be the case 100% of the times. It took me a while to realize this. Pushing a less good idea won’t give me the same result as taking my time to get to that one good idea. It’s funny to me that this realization came when I thought about my education in product design. Usually you need to churn out lots of sketches before you stumble upon a gem that could turn out to be a good product further down the line.
ME: Where do you like to write – inside, outside, special room, laptop, pen and paper?
GIANG: Preferably inside with pen and paper. That’s almost always how I begin writing. Being inside helps me focus. And pen and paper are just the best media when I need to quickly jot something down. Because I write slowly, one idea can turn into three before I finish writing the first one, creating some kind of writing streak. And because my handwriting is crappy, I don’t have to overthink anything. But exactly because of that, I often switch to my laptop to gain speed when I have a better idea about what I want to write. Sometimes I even use my phone to write while commuting if the deadline is tight.
ME: When do you write – early morning, late in the day, middle of the night, on schedule, as the muse strikes?
GIANG: Preferably early morning. Because it’s usually quiet and I’m a morning person. It may also be a habit I had back when I lived with my parents. Early morning was the only time of the day I could have for myself. Lately, I’ve noticed that I can actually write at any times of the day as the deadline approaches 🙂
ME: Why do you write for children?
GIANG: Maybe it’s because I wanted to write for myself first. That happened when I was around nine years old. There weren’t a lot of children’s books in Vietnamese back then, and I was very picky. I criticized the characters, the plots, the narratives of most of what I read. So I decided to do something about it and started writing the stories I’d like to read.
ME: Also, if you have any thoughts or advice for aspiring writers, please share. As well as anything else you want to talk about that parents, educators, writers, librarians might want to hear.
GIANG: For aspiring writers, this may be an obvious one: keep writing, because in the end it only counts if you write. For parents, I don’t know if you want to hear this, but this is my thought when I was a kid until today: don’t force your kids to read what you think is good. Give them options and let them choose. Because deep down inside, they already know what they want to read.
ME: I also had a question about the publishing process for this book, Giang – can you tell us anything about how it unfolded?
GIANG: Room to Read often arranges the illustration after receiving the scripts from the authors. It chooses illustrators based on their interests in the scripts, styles, and availability. For “Vy’s Special Gift”, this process was more or less the same, with some difficulties regarding the availability. Because I finished the script in August, the collaboration with The Peace Studio came in September, and the story was chosen to be part of their 100 Offerings of Peace project so it needed to be illustrated and finished in October. It was super lucky for us that Evi Shelvia was available and accepted such a crazy challenge. It still blew my mind that she could draw a full spread every day in four weeks straight!
ME: WOW! That is super fast!
And here’s a treat for everyone…Dr. Maya Soetoro doing a read-aloud of VY’S SPECIAL GIFT: https://youtu.be/Jna39ZQCkyI
And you can read a copy of VY’S SPECIAL GIFT for free right here.
Thank you so very much for all of your insights, Giang. I love your advice that we need to let kids choose what they want to read. Many of our author and illustrator guests have said the same thing. And I agree – if kids are reading, it’s a good thing. And if they keep reading, they will stumble upon topics that spark their curiosity and pique their interest – and then they will pursue their passions and find their purpose.
And something I am passionate about is any dessert with apples – and I understand that’s one of your favorites also.
GIANG: Yes, my favorite treat recipe is Dutch apple tarts: https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/258330/appeltaart-dutch-apple-tart/ It’s fairly easy to make (for a mediocre cook like me) and is always tasty. The sour apple filling balances the sweet pastry very well. It also goes perfectly with a hot cup of coffee in this weather. I’d love to write for warm Dutch apple tarts
YUM! I think there are some apples in the crisper…I just may have to give that recipe a whirl!
Thank you , everyone, for the gift of your precious time spent here on my blog. It means the world to me. We are into a new year and this is my first blog post of 2021. Of course, I’m hopping and bopping all over the blogsphere, making lots of stops on my book blog tour for FROM HERE TO THERE: Inventions That Changed the Way the World Moves which launches on January 19. On Monday, I contributed a post for STORYSTORM – I hope you are all participating…it’s a wonderful challenge to start off the year – filling a notebook with ideas for stories. On Tuesday, I shared the writing and publication journey of FROM HERE TO THERE on Kathy Temean’s Writing and Illustrating blog. On Wednesday, I answered 5 questions for Laura Sassi and paired up STEM activities with some of the chapters in the new book which really aligns with many curriculum units. And on Friday, I joined Julie and Simone to chat on their Inclusion School podcast. Here’s the book blog tour if you want to catch the next dozen or so stops. And don’t forget, there are prizes/giveaways on most of them…copies of the book, picture book critiques, and Zoom chats with me. Don’t miss out!
BOOK BLOG TOUR
FROM HERE TO THERE: INVENTIONS THAT CHANGED THE WAY THE WORLD MOVES
October 14:http://justincolonbooks.com/cover-reveal-interview-and-giveaways-with-vivian-kirkfield/ – pb critique giveaway
December 9: Sandy Brehl: https://unpackingpicturebookpower.blogspot.com/2020/12/from-here-to-there-journey-of-ten.html
December 18: Beth Anderson: https://bethandersonwriter.com/2020/12/18/behind-the-scenes-creating-a-compilation-by-vivian-kirkfield Book or critique giveaway
December 22: Erin Dealey: https://www.erindealey.com/book-birthday/picture-book-sneak-peek-from-here-to-there-inventions-that-changed-the-way-the-world-moves-10-qs-with-vivian-kirkfield-and-a-giveaway/ Giveaway
January 4: Tara Lazar – I’ll be one of the mentor/bloggers for her Storystorm challenge https://taralazar.com/storystorm/ Giveaway
January 5: Kathy Temean: https://kathytemean.wordpress.com/ Giveaway
January 6: Laura Sassi: https://laurasassitales.wordpress.com/ Critique giveaway
January 8: Inclusion School podcast: https://drjuliecauston.podbean.com/
January 11: Manju Howard – Joint interview with my agent, Essie White: https://www.authormanjuhoward.com/blog-1
January 12: Kirsti Call: Reading for Research Month – Think Quick interview: http://www.reforemo.com/
January 13: Patricia Newman – LitLinks – Weaving STEM and Literacy: https://www.patriciamnewman.com/blog-4/
January 18: Maria Marshall – Picture Book Buzz interview: https://www.mariacmarshall.com/blog
January 19: Bianca Schulze – The Children’s Book Review – giveaway of 2 books and grand prize of 1 book and 30-minute Zoom author visit or 30-minute critique chat. Giveaway https://www.thechildrensbookreview.com/
January 19: Matthew Winner is doing an Instagram Takeover of his podcast Instagram and will be sharing about From Here to There all day: @MatthewCWinner
January 20: Tina Cho – Grog Blog: https://groggorg.blogspot.com/ Giveaway
January 22: Maria Marshall – Perfect Picture Book Friday post – book or critique giveaway: https://www.mariacmarshall.com/blog
February 1: Melissa Stoller: https://www.melissastoller.com/
February 3: World Read Aloud Day: I’ll be reading From Here to There stories with three classes
February 11: Kaitlyn Sanchez – Math is Everywhere blog – and this is also Inventors’ Day
because it is Thomas Edison birthday – and my birthday, too: https://kaitlynleannsanchez.com/ Giveaway
I’m also a Bronze Sponsor for Multicultural Children’s Book Day which is how I connected with today’s Will Write for Cookies guest. MCDB is entering its 10th year – founders Mia Wenjen and Valerie Budayr have been supporting diverse books with this initiative since 2012:
Using the Multicultural Children’s Book Day platform, the mission from Day One has been to not only raise awareness around kid’s books that celebrate diversity but to also get more of these types of books into classrooms and libraries.
“Kids need to ‘see themselves’ in the pages of the books they read,” noted Budayr. “We are determined to not only shine the spotlight on all of the multicultural books available but also offer visibility for the amazing authors and publishers who create them.”