Wai Chim - Interview (February 2019)
What five words best describe you?
Writer. Author. Digital. Nerd. Puppy Ogler. (Wait that's 6 words! :D)
How did you get started in this industry?
Back in 2006, I started with a picture book idea called Marty the Train Mouse. I wrote the manuscript, did some average illustrations and then had a consultation with the lovely team at Books Illustrated in South Melbourne. They put me on to short chapter books for kids (The Aussie Nibbles series) which I had never considered before. They also suggested I join my local Writers' Centre and a writers' group. I tried my hand at a few chapter book manuscripts and eventually had a first draft of Chook Chook, which had some positive bites but nothing eventuated.
Fast forward 3 or 4 years, where I didn't really work on anything but eventually got the writing bug again. I dusted off the old Chook Chook manuscript, polished it up and submitted it into the UQP slush pile. This became my very first published book in 2012.
Is there any part of the creative process you don't like?
There's a part when you finish your first draft (or sometimes I call it my zeroth draft) where it all seems absolutely terrible and wrong and completely unsalvageable. But at least it's sort of done? So it's this bittersweet sensation of misery mixed with relief mixed with horror. :)
What advice would you give to someone who is trying to catch the eye of a publisher?
Be a kind, generous, professional human being. Make things easy for them by following rules and guidelines. Listen openly and sincerely to feedback and see it as an opportunity to grow.
Are you a plotter or a pantser? (Plotter =Plotting out your manuscript before you write it. / Pantser = Putting pen to paper and plotting as you go along)
I think of myself as a plotting pantser? (I have a general idea of where I want to go, but am not sure how to get there until I start.)
What excites you about the future of children's books?
I love how young people are so diverse and inclusive - 'the kids are alright'. They are eager and hungry to see themselves and their friends in books and media. This is a huge opportunity for writers to really tell more unique and personal stories, to introduce new ideas into the mainstream.
What’s the funniest thing a child has ever said to you during one of your presentations/talks?
Someone asked me if I owned a Lamborghini! :D
What's next from Wai Chim?
I have a contemporary YA coming out this year. It's a heartfelt portrayal of love, culture, family and mental illness.