To generate even more excitement for the upcoming Asian Festival of Children’s Content here in Singapore, I am doing a series of interviews with invited guest speakers and other conference attendees: a Pre-AFCC 2013 Glitter, if you will. A shower of golden fairy dust and pixie glitter and virtual confetti to signal the coming of AFCC this year!
I am very privileged to welcome Holly Thompson back in GatheringBooks (Holly was our featured storyteller when we had our novel-in-verse bimonthly theme in November/December 2011)
Your keynote speech is entitled “Novels Set in Asia: Selling Them Overseas” – could you provide a very quick teaser about what the conference attendees should look forward to in your keynote?
I’ll be addressing the obstacles writers may face when writing a novel set in Asia. What are the challenges we encounter during writing and research? What are the challenges we face when we try to sell them to markets outside Asia? What do we need to know about those markets? What do we need to know about the readers in those markets? And what can we do to give our Asia-based stories their best chances of success overseas?
Your latest novel “The Language Inside” would also be launched during this year’s AFCC – could you tell us more about your new book?
Yes, I’m excited for the AFCC launch! Here’s the description:
Emma Karas was raised in Japan; it’s the country she calls home. But when her mother is diagnosed with breast cancer, Emma’s family moves to a town outside Lowell, Massachusetts to stay with her grandmother while her mom undergoes treatment. Emma feels out of place in the United States, begins to have migraines, and longs to be back in Japan. At her grandmother’s urging, she volunteers in a long-term care center to help Zena, a patient with locked-in syndrome, write down her poems. There, Emma meets Samnang, another volunteer, who assists elderly Cambodian refugees. Weekly visits to the care center, Zena’s poems, dance, and noodle soup bring Emma and Samnang closer, until Emma must make a painful choice: stay in Massachusetts, or return early to Japan. The Language Inside is a verse novel rich in language both spoken and unspoken and poetry that crosses boundaries to create a story layered with love, loss, movement and words.
What is the event/session that you are most looking forward to attending during this year’s AFCC?
Well, I’m really looking forward to the Seminars and the Writers and Illustrators Conference. The problem is that there are so many sessions I want to attend! It will be tough to choose.
What are some of the things you miss most about Singapore? For people who are visiting Singapore for the first time what are some of the neat places that you can recommend?
I’ve enjoyed walking there—along Clarke Quay, on Fort Canning Hill, in the Botanic Gardens, in East Coast Park and all around Katong. I really enjoyed art museums, the Peranakan Museum and the Asian Civilizations Museum. And I love wandering around and eating in the Arab Street area and Little India.
What do you love most about AFCC?
Meeting writers, illustrators, translators, editors, agents and readers from around Asia. I’ve made lasting cross-Asia friendships and become a part of Asian kidlit networks thanks to AFCC. I’m looking forward to seeing everyone there!