Exclusive Interview with
When did you start writing?
I knew I was a writer at a young age because I always found myself sitting at my desk day after day, staring at a bunch of ideas I’ve scribbled on a piece of paper and trying to piece them together to formulate a story. I've always enjoyed reading books and thinking of alternate endings. Even though many of those ideas remained at the bottom of my drawer, I knew then that there was a writer living within me. However, I never considered pursuing writing as a career or the possibility of publishing my work.
Now working as a professional editor for over 10 years, I've learned about the excitement authors experience throughout the publishing process. It excites me every time when I see their books launch. Working as an editor sparked my dream about becoming an author one day. I wished to experience all the emotions authors feel when they hold their own book in their hands. And I’m glad I gave it a try.
What makes writing your passion?
It's tough finding time to write when you hold a day job and have family responsibilities. So the only time I get to write would be in the evenings (especially when everybody in the house is asleep). I would stay up until 3 or 4 am sometimes just to get my ideas on paper. Although it was always a struggle getting up the next morning, it was my passion that gave me enough adrenaline to keep going late into the evenings (that and sometimes a strong cup of coffee). So I'll say that writing is my passion because it keeps me up at night.
How long have you been writing?
I've been writing for over 20 years, published technical papers in scientific journals, and some poetry in newsletters. However, it wasn't until 2021 when I became a published author with the release of my debut novel, 'Hold on please, Emily.'
What was the feeling when you published your first book?
I had to pinch myself because I couldn't believe it. I kept reminiscing about my earlier years when I thought it was impossible to publish my own book. So, when I was able to hold my own book in my hands, I was in disbelief. Plus, to my surprise, my book received the #1 bestseller tag on Amazon for over 5 book categories during the first week of launch, so that made it feel even more unreal. The whole publishing experience is like an epic roller coaster ride, with ups and downs, twists and turns, but eventually, you'll reach the finish line.
What’s the story behind your choice of characters?
My characters and stories are inspired by things happening in my everyday life, things I saw on TV/movies, or things I read about. I like creating characters that are emotional, relatable, and loveable.
What annoys you the most in pursuing a writing career?
Respect. I don't expect any accolades or praise, but I get frustrated when others don't recognize writing as a career because it's not your typical office job. Writers can spend hours staring at a piece of paper or re-writing their chapter. We might not always have a lot of progress to show, but we're constantly working on developing our ideas, and there are countless hours that go into the creation of one book.
How do you get over the “writer’s block”?
Reading quotes, watching shows, and listening to music usually gets me over writer's block. Plus, I find chatting with close friends help for bouncing off ideas.
We all know the writer’s path is never easy, what makes you keep going? What advice would you give to new authors?
I've connected with several like-minded creatives throughout my writing career and I honestly feel that these individuals are the ones who give me motivation. When I see them creating things and enjoying what they love, it makes me want to keep going too. The best part about connecting with like-minded individuals is that we can relate to each other's struggles and genuinely be supportive of each other. So, I advise all writers to find a group of creatives they can connect to often. They will keep you sane, cry with you, celebrate with you, and give you motivation whenever you cannot find it within yourself.
If you could go back in time and talk to your younger self, what would you say?
I would tell my younger self to not be afraid to listen to your inner voice. As a child, I was naturally drawn to the arts and many teachers would commend my creativity. I played several instruments, sketched, and wrote stories. However, I only saw these activities as hobbies, and not something I could pursue as a career. If I was true to myself from the beginning, I wouldn't have been so easily swayed to study in the sciences. I took a long detour to get to where I am today, but I'm quite happy with the path I've now found in my life. So, if you have something you truly love, keep doing it! I believe you can turn anything into a career if you work hard and look for opportunities.
Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with the bad ones?
Yes, all of them. I've received some average book reviews before, but fortunately haven't received a really bad one yet. If I did though, I probably would be upset at first. Though, I would quickly remind myself of a life lesson I learned from my thesis supervisor.
When I was in university, my supervisor once told me that if anyone ever bashes my research during a conference presentation, don't forget that only you know your work the most and any negative comments are not bashing you as an individual. You must be able to see the division between yourself and your work. This is something I will never forget.
What is the feeling when you get a good review?
I probably have a huge smirk on my face when I read good reviews. When I read good reviews, it motivates me to keep creating content. But also, it puts things into perspective because I want to write content that connects with my audience. So, when readers share positive reviews, I know I'm doing things right.
Have you ever incorporated something that happened to you in real life into your novels?
Absolutely. They say that the best writing is one that you experience because you can get into all the fine details and really capture the emotions/feelings of that scenario since you're completely familiar with it.
Which of your characters you can compare yourself with? Did you base that character on you?
I create characters by basing them off of characteristics from friends, family, myself, or people I've met. However, I never make them identical or it'll be awkward when that person I know reads my work. Each of my characters are essentially a mashup of many individuals. I haven't directly based a character on myself yet, but some of their experiences are things that I've gone through myself.
What do you think, the book cover is as important as the story?
Although we always say, don't judge a book by it's cover. We do. So, yes, the book cover is just as important as the story. How I see it: the book cover grabs the reader's attention to pick up your book, but the story is what gets the reader to take your book home.
Do you connect with your readers? Do you mind having a chat with them or you prefer to express yourself through your writing?
I love connecting with my readers and have this opportunity through social media. I mainly use Instagram, but I have a few readers who reply to my newsletter emails and connect with me that way. If I ever had an opportunity to chat with my readers, I would be happy to engage in it. It'll be great to let them know how much I appreciate them.
How do you feel when people appreciate your work or recognize you in public?
I feel proud when people appreciate my work and the positive feedback motivates me to improve myself as a writer. As an author, we are constantly reminding ourselves that our target audience can never be everyone. There will always be someone who doesn't like what you write, but there is also so many people who would appreciate it too. When someone praises your work, you feel like you've accomplished something. Being able to connect with your readers is the greatest gift for any author.
Who is your favorite author? Why?
John Green is my favourite author because he has a way of writing novels that transports the reader into the story immediately. Readers emotionally connect with his characters and in many of his books, his protagonists are very real—people with imperfections and relatable issues. I always love books with a great plot and characters, and he does an excellent job doing this in his work. Whenever I pick up a John Green book, I never want to put it down until I reached the end.
What’s the dream? Whom would you like to be as big as?
The dream is to be like John Green. I admire him as a writer. I also want to create characters like J.K. Rowling because she created Harry Potter, which was adored by such a large fan base. Both of them are an inspiration.