I had the privilege of connecting with author Lisa Chong and had the opportunity to see inside her life as a writer and a self-published children’s author. Her book, I am NOT a Bear, illustrated by Daniella Kovalerchik, can be found on Amazon.
For my review on this lovely children’s book, see my post Literature 411: “I am NOT a Bear”.
It was an honor to do this interview with her since she is the first children’s author I’ve met and she is self-published. Without further delay, here’s a peep inside Ms. Chong’s literary world.
Through the Peephole with Lisa Chong
411Junkie: For starters, can you tell me a little about yourself? A mini bio, so to speak.
Lisa: I have lived in the San Francisco Bay Area my whole life. I enjoy working on creative projects and volunteer a great deal at my son’s charter school editing their weekly newsletter and creating the annual yearbook. I’m a huge dog lover and would love to incorporate them into all aspects of my life.
411Junkie: I see that you manage a reading program, connecting readers with dogs. Can you tell me a little more about that?
Lisa: Dogs have always had a special place in my heart so when I saw a story about The Intermountain Therapy Animals who had developed a program for people to read with
dogs I knew I wanted to start a program. I brought the idea to the principal of my son’s
school and he was very supportive. The program is going on its fifth year.
Our program know as “PAWS” -Partnering Animals With Student (the first year we had a
cat) began not only helping kids with their reading but also gave those a chance who were
having a bad day or feeling down the opportunity to take a break from the day to receive
the unconditional love and acceptance a pet has to offer.
411Junkie: Did you always wanted to be a writer/author, or was it by chance?
Lisa: I can’t say I’ve always wanted to be a writer. I’ve always taken comfort in journaling when things weren’t going well but I never thought I’d actually write any stories.
Growing up I felt the sting of teasing and racism so the first story I wrote dealt with the fact that words can cause more harm than a physical blow. That story made it pretty far
through the process with a publishing house, with one of the editors helping me with
advice, revisions, and convincing her boss that it was a worthwhile project. After several
months, her boss liked the story enough to proceed. Unfortunately, about a month later she decided that it would be too difficult to market and they ultimately rejected the story.
411Junkie: Have you been a writer a long time?
Lisa: I’ve been writing children’s stories for about 6-7 years whenever I can find the time and have an idea for a story.
411Junkie: I like the plot of “I am NOT a bear.” I love that it teaches about point-of-view and about other animals. Can you tell me a little about your inspiration for the story?
Lisa: One of the biggest motivating factors behind my writing is to give people a better
understanding of others and how we can have misconceptions about each other. When a friend of mine lamented that she couldn’t find any good picture books about koalas,
I was able to write the story while incorporating this concept into it.Unfortunately it wasn’t
quite that simple. I struggled for a long time trying to create a storyline that I felt could
411Junkie: You’re the first author I’ve met who wrote a children’s book. How do you like that? Was it a challenge to write for children or did you have a good time?
Lisa: At times ideas for stories come easily and the hardest part is coming up with a good
ending. The bigger challenge is writing a story that is meaningful to me without being
411Junkie: You’re also the first author I’ve met that I know is self-published. What is that process it like? Do you have any tips or pointers for those looking to go into self-publishing?
Lisa: I resisted self-publishing for a long time due to the negative connotations it carries.
However, the odds of getting a manuscript published are not very good unless you’re a
celebrity or an established writer. Add that to the fact that I can’t draw and self-publishing
wasn’t an option until I thought to ask my friend if she was interested in trying to illustrate
the book. As it turned out, her 12-year-old daughter ended up doing all the illustrations.
My advice to anyone interested in self-publishing is understand all that is involved with it.
There are not only different self-publishing companies; there are different options to
choose from.Educate yourself and decide how much or how little you want to be involved in the technical aspects.
411Junkie: What kind of books do you like to read?
Lisa: I enjoy reading mysteries, nonfiction material dealing with social behavior, the changing brain, etc. and every now and then, I pick up an old Nancy Drew, Little House book or something else from my childhood.
411Junkie: Do you have any advice to offer aspiring authors/writers?
Lisa: Write because you enjoy it, not for any “fame and fortune”. If you believe in your project, you can make it happen-even if that means self-publishing.
“Write because you enjoy it … ” that’s really good advice. Thank you, Lisa Chong, for taking the time to do this interview. Best of luck to you and all your future endeavors! ~411Junkie