Good morning all!
I’m excited to welcome author Sylvia Liu to the blog today as part of the blog tour for her new book A Morning With Grandpa.
Sylvia Liu is an environmental lawyer turned children’s author and illustrator. Her debut as a picture book author, A MORNING WITH GRANDPA, illustrated by Christina Forshay (Lee & Low Books) comes out May 2016. She was lucky to do what she loved, protecting the oceans and the environment at the U.S. Department of Justice and the nonprofit group Oceana, and now she is even luckier to paint, draw, and write for children. She lives in Virginia Beach, Virginia, with her husband and their two daughters.
My review of her delightful and heart warming story appeared last week on the blog, and today Ms. Liu was kind enough to join us and talk about her inspiration for this book, and her life as a writer.
How long have you been writing and when did you publish your first book?
I have been writing for fun and in journals since grade school, professionally as a lawyer for over a decade, and have been seriously writing picture books for about six or seven years (I have been illustrating longer than that). A MORNING WITH GRANDPA, illustrated by Christina Forshay (Lee & Low Books), is my first book.
Where do you find your writing inspiration?
Everywhere: my daughters, the ocean, quirky science facts, and recently, my new Siberian kitten, Apollo.
What inspired you to write A MORNING WITH GRANDPA?
I was with my parents, my family, and my sister’s family at a lake house in Vermont the summer of 2013. Watching my dad do qi gong, a mind-body practice involving breathing techniques and postures to move “qi,” or energy, inspired me to write a story about a grandfather who teaches his granddaughter both qi gong and tai chi.
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a colonist on Mars. Now, I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up.
What was your favorite book as a child?
There are too many to choose from! I loved Lloyd Alexander’s Book of Three chronicles.
Who has most inspired you in your writing career?
My family has inspired me:
My husband, David, started writing picture books on our honeymoon, and over the years, he has tried his hand at picture books and chapter books. I always saw myself as an illustrator and illustrated many of his stories. As I got more serious with my illustration, I found myself wanting to illustrate my own stories, and I started to write them down.
My daughters, Sammi and Sarah, are always a source of inspiration. They are so fun and funny.
What do you feel is the most rewarding aspect of writing?
Sharing my vision of the world with others. Hearing back from children who have listened to or read my stories, or seen my illustratons.
What advice would you give to young writers?
Never stop learning the craft. I’m still a relatively new author in the scheme of things, and I know there is a lot more I could learn. My top five recommendations for continuing your writing education:
1) Read as much as you can, in and out of your genre
2) Write as much as you can
3) Find a critique group to get feedback
4) Take courses (check out the Writing Courses page at Kidlit411, the kid lit website I run).
5) Read craft articles and books (Kidlit411’s For Writers page has a great list of links)
Do you have any hobbies?
Before having kids, I had a lot of hobbies, like traveling, scuba diving, gardening, reading, and painting, in addition to working full time. After they were born (14 and 12 years ago), my hobbies unrelated to writing, reading, and creating fell largely by the wayside. I run to keep in shape, as well as take weekly yoga and tai chi lessons.
What is the most interesting place you have visited?
I’ve had the good fortune to travel many places. One of my very favorites was a week long trip when I was thirteen, traveling through the Gran Sabana (Grand Savannah) in the southern part of Venezuela, in a convoy of jeeps with three other families. This was in the early 1980s, when there weren’t paved roads in that part of the country. We drove on dirt tire tracks across an otherworldly landscape of plains dotted by tepuys (flat-top mountains, like the ones depicted in the movie, UP); carried our own water and gasoline for a week (no gas stations); camped by and bathed in streams; and ended up at the border of Brazil and Venezuela.
Name one interesting fact about yourself unrelated to writing 🙂
I grew up in Caracas, Venezuela, and attended international and American schools there, from ages 5 to 17.
Where can readers learn more about you and your books?
I can be found a lot of places on the interwebs:
My portfolio and website: www.enjoyingplanetearth.com
I help run the kid lit resource website, Kidlit411 (www.kidlit411.com), with Elaine Kiely Kearns. In the two years we’ve been running, we’ve built a great community (check us out on our Facebook page, www.facebook.com/KIDLIT411) and the site was named one of the 101 Best Websites for Writers by Writer’s Digest in 2015.
Anything else you’d like to mention about A MORNING WITH GRANDPA or your writing career?
I wouldn’t be here without the amazing community of kid lit authors I’ve come to know, from the Penguin Posse, my amazing critique group (Teresa Robeson, Victoria Richardson, Elaine Kiely Kearns, Renee LaTulippe, Alayne Kay Christian, and Yvonne Mes); my in person writer friends (Tara Moeller, Jenn Vore Falls, Dee Southerland, and Mary Yurachek), to communities like Julie Hedlund’s 12×12 and Tara Lazar’s PiBoIdMo.
And of course, I owe so much to Christina Forshay, for bringing the story to life, and my editor, Jessica Echeverria, for shaping the story so nicely. A huge THANKS to you all.
Be sure to visit the rest of the blog tour for A MORNING WITH GRANDPA.
Thanks for joining us today and thank you for letting Three Show Saturday be a part of the blog tour. It has been exciting to be a part of the count down to the upcoming release of A Morning With Grandpa.
A portion of this interview also appears in my newspaper column, Under the Big Top Tales and Twisters, this week.
Hope you all are having a wonderful week!