Three Questions With Christopher Cheng: Advice for young writers, office chops and PYTHON
Christopher Cheng is an award-winning Australian author of more than 40 children’s books and is a co-chair of the International Advisory Board for the SCBWI. I met Chris through the SCBWI, and I love his enthusiasm and positive energy. Pictured above: Chris with a python (!) as well as his narrative non-fiction picture book, PYTHON. Python was written by Chris, illustrated by Mark Jackson, and was published by Candlewick; it was shortlisted in the 2013 Children’s Book Council Of The Year awards.
You can find more info about Chris at his website, Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and YouTube.
Synopsis of PYTHON:
Python stirs and slithers out from her shelter, smelling the air with her forked tongue. It’s time to molt her dull scales and reveal the glistening snake underneath. Gliding along a tree, she stops and watches very, very closely as a bird drops onto a branch — and escapes the razor-sharp teeth just in time. But Python is hungry, so she slides on to stalk new prey. Combining informative facts, expressive illustrations, and a lyrical, mesmerizing narrative, here is a book to captivate anyone fascinated by this iconic creature.
Q. Could you please take a photo of something in your office and tell us the story behind it?
A photo of SOMETHING in my office – was that SOMETHING or ONEthing or ANYthing? Well, because I am never good at following instructions (can you write the manuscript to 35000 words – sure … and then I submit a 55000 word manuscript that was published), I just have to send you two.
First, my CHOP!
This is me (as you can tell from the side … but there is also actually my Chinese name on the base that I use to ‘chop’ my books when I am signing them at home.
If I am travelling, I have a mini version of this – it’s my travelling chop! and then here is the photo of the creatures bordering my desk … I lurve having these:
Q. What advice do you have for young writers?
Five letters, sounds like LIGHT …. WRITE!
Do it every day.
Do it for fun –
WRITE anything that comes in to your head;
WRITE what you heard your big sister say on the telephone last night when she thought she was speaking in secret;
WRITE what you wish to do;
WRITE what you want to do;
WRITE what your IMAGINATION tells you to write.
And when you write, edit what you write … don’t make it a ramble (unless it is supposed to be). Sometimes later (it might be after your initial thoughts, it might be after a day or so – on the day you set aside as the reviewing day) go back and rewrite your work. Write about what makes you happy. Write about what makes you sad. Write about … what you are too afraid to write about!
And when you write, giggle and laugh and cry and moan and weep and slobber … get into the skin of your character. BE your character. Ask the questions what would (your character) do?
And ENJOY what you are doing.
Q What are you excited about right now?
Joining the throng of folk that Debbie is interviewing.
Life … I love hanging out with others of my kind – children’s book people.
Reading new books by my friends – like Samantha Berger, and Debbie Ridpath Ohi, and Isabel Roxas and … and SCBWI – we are a beautiful tribe.
For more insights from book creators, see my Inkygirl Interview Archives and Advice For Young Writers And Illustrators From Book Creators.