Do you write and/or draw everyday?
I try to write and draw everyday. But sometimes I get busy with other things, like visiting students in schools, and am not able to.
Do you have a favorite place to write/draw?
I like to write and draw in my studio at home, but sometimes my best writing is done when I'm on an airplane or waiting in line somewhere.
Are you working on anything right now? Some of us have also read and enjoyed The Year of the Rat. Will there be a third novel about Pacy/Grace?
I am working on a third novel, but it is not about Pacy/Grace - it is kind of a Chinese folktale/fairytale. But I might do another "Year of" book, I'm not sure yet!
At what age did you decide you wanted to be an author/illustrator? Do you have any advice for "finding your talent?"
I think I decided I wanted to be an author/illustrator when I was in 4th or 5th grade. My advice for "finding your talent" is to think not about what you are good at, but what you love to do - that's where your true talent will be.
The Year of the Dog is part fiction/part memoir. How did you decide that the book would be this way? Did you have any reservations about revealing so much about yourself?
I began writing The Year of the Dog as a sequel to my picturebook The Ugly Vegetables...but it kept growing and growing and would not fit into a picturebook format. So I let it become a novel. I didn't have too many reservations about revealing so much about myself, though I did worry that Lissy (my older sister) might not like how I portrayed her!
Why did you choose to set the book in the Year of the Dog?
I set the book during the Year of the Dog because it was about the time of my first year of the dog that I realized I wanted to be an author/illustrator. When I looked up the superstitions and traits of what the Year of the Dog means, it fit what I wanted my story about so that is why I used it.
How long did it take you to write The Year of the Dog?
It took me over five years!
Is your book The Ugly Vegetables, the same as the one Pacy wrote and illustrated for the contest in The Year of the Dog?
I didn't really write The Ugly Vegetables until many years later; since Year of the Dog was supposed to be a sequel to The Ugly Vegetables I thought it was fitting that I should put it in. Also The Ugly Vegetables was my very first published book. However, the book I wrote and illustrated for the book contest in real life was what I said was Melody's book - a book about flowers that could talk to each other.
One of our favorite things about the book is all of the family stories, especially the mom stories (Pacy's mom falling asleep in schol, the story about her mom having her hair cut by the teacher). Are any of those stories true?
All the stories about my mother are true - even sleeping in school!
Who are your favorite children's authors? What are you reading right now?
I have a lot of favorite authors - Beverly Cleary, Ruth Chew, Noel Streatfeild, L. M. Montgomery, Carolyn Haywood - and lots more! Right now I am reading "Chinese Fairy Tales and Fantasies" by Moss Roberts; it's to help me with the novel I am writing!
What is the best part about being a famous author? Have you gotten to do anything really special because of your work?
The best part about being an author is hearing from students that they love my books. That is the greatest! I have gotten to do some fun things because of my work - I was on the Today Show once and once a school all the way in Hong Kong had me come visit the students there. I think visiting students is probably the most special part of my work.
Do you have any advice for young writers/illustrators?
My advice is to read! As well as practice writing and drawing, reading books is very important. Even if you read a book you don't like, it is good because then you know how you DON'T want to make a book. And if you DO like it, then it will help your own writing and illustrating. Good Luck!
A BIG THANK YOU to Grace Lin for her thoughtful responses to our questions. It was so generous of her to take the time out of her busy schedule for our book club. We really appreciate it! So now I encourage you again to go and read her books! We have a lot of them here at the Newport Public Library. Come in and get one today!