Complementing my daily blog interviews, today’s Author Spotlight, the one hundred and twenty-third, is of children’s book author, freelance writer, and playwright Natasha Yim.
Natasha Yim is an author, freelance writer, and playwright. Her picture book, Otto’s Rainy Day (Charlesbridge Publishing) was a Kids’ Pick of the Lists selection. She has published articles in Highlights for Children, Appleseeds, and Faces magazines, and her ten-minute plays have been performed in venues around Northern California, Los Angeles, and Sydney, Australia. Her picture book biography, Cixi, The Dragon Empress, was released by Goosebottom Books (www.goosebottombooks.com) in fall 2011. Natasha’s upcoming books, Sacajawea of the Shoshone (Goosebottom Books) is due out in Oct. 2012, and Goldy Luck and the Three Chans (Charlesbridge Publishing) is slated for a January 2014 release.
And now from the author herself:
I had wanted to be a writer since I was eleven years old when an English teacher gave us an assignment to design our own island, make up names of lakes, rivers, mountains and towns and create a story around it. I was hooked. As an avid reader, I devoured books by Mark Twain, Enid Blyton, and I loved the Anne of Green Gables series by Lucy M. Montgomery. I started journaling, and writing poetry and short stories.
At Dominican College (now University) in San Rafael, California, I began as a Psychology major (my second professional aspiration next to being a writer was to be a child psychologist) then I discovered they had an actual creative writing degree. It had a strong literature component so the degree was called English Literature with a Writing Emphasis. I promptly changed my major. Although my parents were always very supportive of my endeavors, I don’t think they were entirely happy with this choice—what do you do with an English major after all? Well, write of course. But after college, reality hit. Unless I was as prolific and successful as Stephen King, writing alone wasn’t going to pay the bills.
I went to graduate school and received a Masters Degree in Counseling Psychology. I didn’t become a child psychologist but I did work with children for most of my professional career as a social worker and counselor in group homes, foster homes, and for the Mendocino County Child Protective Services. I began writing stories for children.
After several years of writing non-fiction articles which were published in regional and local newspapers and magazines, my first children’s book, Otto’s Rainy Day, was published by Charlesbridge Publishing in 2000. I was ecstatic! It had taken a year of writing and editing, a year of waiting for the publisher’s response, and three more years for it to finally see print. I had arrived, I thought. Not! It would be eleven years before my next book, Cixi, The Dragon Empress was released by Goosebottom Books.
In between that time, I was hardly idle. I had three kids, carved out writing time from 5 am. – 7 am. while the kids were still asleep, and continued to write picture book manuscripts that were, sadly, rejected by publishers. But I didn’t give up. I continued to perfect my craft through workshops, conferences, webinars, and critique groups and most of all, I continued to write.
Cixi, The Dragon Empress, a biography of the last empress of China for kids 9 – 13 will be followed by Sacajawea of the Shoshone, also from Goosebottom Books, due out in October 2012. It tells the true story of the Native American teenager who accompanied Lewis and Clark on their exploration of the American west. And in Jan. 2014, Charlesbridge Publishing will be publishing Goldy Luck and the Three Pandas, a re-telling of the Goldilocks and the Three Bears tale with an Asian twist.
You can take a peek inside Sacajawea of the Shoshone on: http://pinterest.com/natashayim/peek-inside-the-book and listen to an audio excerpt on Natasha’s blog: http://www.writerslife2.blogspot.com/p/books_11.html.
The blog interviews will return as normal tomorrow with horror, science-fiction and urban fantasy author and poet Nikolas P Robinson – the five hundred and sixth of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, biographers, agents, publishers and more. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further. And I enjoy hearing from readers of my blog; do either leave a comment on the relevant interview (the interviewees love to hear from you too!) and / or email me.
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Unfortunately, as I post an interview a day (amongst other things) I can’t review books but I have a feature called ‘Short Story Saturdays’ where I review stories of up to 2,500 words. Alternatively if you have a short story or self-contained novel extract / short chapter (ideally up to 1000 words) that you’d like critiqued and don’t mind me reading it / talking about and critiquing it (I send you the transcription afterwards so you can use the comments or ignore them) on my ‘Bailey’s Writing Tips’ podcast, then do email me. They are fortnightly episodes, usually released on Sundays, interweaving the recordings between the red pen sessions with the hints & tips episodes. I am now also looking for flash fiction (<1000 words) for Flash Fiction Fridays and poetry for Post-weekend Poetry.