Author Spotlight no.123 – Natasha Yim

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.

For more information about Natasha Yim, check out her website: www.natashayim.com and Facebook page: www.facebook.com/natashayim.author and follow her on Twitter: www.twitter.com/natashayim.

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.

You can also find out more about Sacajawea of the Shoshone and Cixi, The Dragon Empress on Facebook: www.facebook.com/sacajaweaoftheshoshone and www.facebook.com/cixithedragonempress.

***

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.

You can sign up to receive these blog posts daily or weekly so you don’t miss anything… and follow me on Twitter where each new posting is automatically announced. You can also read / download my eBooks and free eShorts at SmashwordsSony Reader StoreBarnes & NobleiTunes BookstoreKobo and Amazon, with more to follow. I have a new forum, friend me on Facebook, like me on Facebook, connect with me on LinkedIn, find me on Tumblr, complete my website’s Contact me page or plain and simple, email me. I also now have a new blog creation service especially for, but not limited to, writers.

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.

Author Spotlight no.13 – children’s author Helen Moss (Isabella Cass)

To complement my daily blog interviews I recently started a series of Author Spotlights and today’s, the thirteenth, is of children’s author Helen Moss. You can read the others here.

Helen Moss writes fiction for the ‘Middle Grade’ age group – young readers between about seven and twelve years old. Her series, Adventure Island, is set on the fictional island of Castle Key, and follows the adventures of brothers Jack and Scott Carter, their friend Emily Wild and her faithful dog, Drift, as they solve a series of baffling, exciting – and often perilous – mysteries.

Born in 1964, Helen grew up in the beautiful rolling countryside of Worcestershire, interspersed with spells in a remote corner of Saudi Arabia with her family. After completing a PhD in psycholinguistics, she spent many happy years researching and lecturing on the way our brains process and represent language, and how this can be affected by brain injury and disease. She has lived in London, Glasgow and Oregon, but now lives near Cambridge with her husband, two teenage sons and a menagerie of dogs, hens and other animals.

And now from the author herself:

Writing for 7-12 year olds is great fun and incredibly rewarding. It’s an age when children are really starting to find their reading wings, and are moving on to novels and longer stories. The world is full of possibility! There’s scope for all kinds of books at this age, from the funny to the serious to the challenging to the frivolous to the good old-fashioned adventure yarn. The more the better!

As a child, I was an avid fan of Enid Blyton (Famous Five, Secret Seven, Five Find-outers and Dog, I devoured them all) and have continued to love detective/mystery fiction as an adult (PD James, Tony Hillerman, Sue Grafton, Alexander McCall Smith, Sophie Hannah, Nicola Upson, Sara Peretzsky, Joan Smith, the list goes on!). So when my editor at Orion Children’s Books asked if I’d be interested in writing a mystery/adventure series – in the grand tradition of Enid Blyton, but brought right up to date – I practically fell off my chair jumping at the chance!

The first six Adventure Island books have just been published (Summer 2011) and I am currently working on another four to come out in 2012. One of the best things about these books is that they have beautifully detailed line drawings at the beginning of each chapter (not by me, I hasten to add, but by a very talented illustrator called Leo Hartas). As well as looking great, the illustrations play an important role in making these books accessible to slightly younger or less confident readers who are moving up to longer books.

Before Adventure Island, I worked on a series called Superstar High for Random House Children’s Books, under the name Isabella Cass.  The series follows the fortunes of three girls and their friends as they start life at an international boarding school for the performing arts. These lovely sparkly books are full of fun and friendship and hopes and dreams.

I have one other project in the pipeline; another series of detective novels, with a slightly more contemporary (dare I say, edgy?) feel. Beth Hunter, the thirteen-year-old heroine, knows her way round the science lab, can strip a car engine and has a mean taikwondo kick. The mysteries she has to solve have very little to do with secret passages or invisible ink; they’re much more likely to involve endangered species, toxic waste dumping and fake pharmaceuticals. This series is not yet with a publisher, but fingers crossed!

Adventure Island Series

1.The Mystery of the Whistling Caves

2.The Mystery of the Midnight Ghost

3.The Mystery of the Hidden Gold

4.The Mystery of the Missing Masterpiece

5.The Mystery of the Cursed Ruby

6.The Mystery of the Vanishing Skeleton

You can find more about Helen and her work via…

Her author website: http://web.me.com/helenmoss/author

Adventure island series website: http://www.adventureislandbooks.com

Thank you Helen. 🙂

The blog interviews will return as normal tomorrow with poet and novelist Franki deMerle – the one hundred and thirty-ninth of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, directors, bloggers, autobiographers and more. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate the author 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. You can also read / download my eBooks here.