Following are my responses, and at the bottom you'll find the three wonderful people who'll post next week!
What am I working on?
I've just finished working on two picture books - Tottie and Dot, with dear friend Tina Snerling (out August) and my latest National Library book (out next March). I am very excited about these two books.
Right now I'm actually working on an adult title (non-fiction), some picture books, some junior fiction, and something a little different to the norm ... the 52-Week Illustration Challenge. I started it as a self-challenge to reconnect with my love of illustrating and it's kind of gone bananas. The Challenge Facebook Group has nearly 1000 members and has become a great joy in my life. I've even put the call out for one of the members to illustrate a new picture book of mine!
One of my greatest dreams has been to illustrate my own book, and I'm secretly illustrating one of my new texts right now. Maybe, just maybe, someone will want to publish it. It all feels quite surreal.
How does my work differ from others of its genre?
I think it's the fact that I write across multiple genre. I've written adult fiction, non-fiction, memoir and lifestyle. In the children's arena, I've written picture books, junior and young adult fiction, non-fiction, history and historical fiction. I've also written plays, workshops, expositional texts and countless magazine articles and reviews. both print and online.
Why do I write what I do?
I began my writing career in magazines and morphed into adult fiction, then adult non-fiction. I only entered the children's industry after having children of my own, and after my picture book collection reached gargantuan proportions. I began Kids' Book Review to write about my collection, and quickly fell headlong into the industry. I'd already written my first kids' book--Riley and the Sleeping Dragon--and it was just the start for me.
I now write almost exclusively for children because I'm passionate about literacy, and know the impact books can have on the lives of children. The benefit of great books in any child's life simply cannot be underestimated. Books are as vital as love, food, shelter.
The other reason I write for kids is because I love the scope for magic. And fabulous illustration.
How does my writing process work?
My process is ideas-driven. I can see a single image or hear a string of words or see a single vista, and an entire story piles up in my head, clamoring to be heard. I'm a fast writer. I get things down quickly and in a single stream of consciousness. I have to capture the words quickly, or they'll drift off into the ether. It's almost like I'm channelling.
I find longer texts hard to write, for this reason, and this is why I'm grateful for a fabulous editor!
I rarely plot or plan. I allow the story to unfold--so much so, it completely surprises me when new characters walk in or plots take a turn. I write very visually--I see characters and scenes in my head, which means writing comes easily. I simply describe what I see!
I like to work in silence--no music or noise. I like to drink coffee and tea, and if I hit a block, the only way out is through. In fact, some of my best work has come from plunging through a block.
WHO'S UP NEXT MONDAY! - 17 March 2014
Chris Cheng is a husband, writer, teacher, uncle, godfather, brother, friend and award-winning children’s author of picture books, fiction and non-fiction in both traditional and digital media. He didn’t start out being a writer. In fact, all he ever wanted to do was be a primary school teacher. Today all he ever wants to do is to write. He knows his best book is yet to come.
Belinda Landsberry wrote and illustrated her first book at the age of seven: How to be a Nurse, and while it was never published (well, not yet, anyway) it sparked Belinda's love affair with words, pictures and all things 'bookish'. In 2013, Belinda won the prestigious Kids' Book Review Award for an Unpublished Picture Book manuscript. She is also 'over the moon and back again' that her first picture book will be published later this year.