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An Interview with author Eva Wong Nava

1. Please tell us what draws you to write for young audiences.

Writing for children is a disciplined craft, I feel, and one that I am passionate about. I write for children because it is my happy place, especially when I write picture books, which is what I'm more often known for as a children's book author.

Children are curious creatures and stories feed their interests and answer their questions about life and the world.

Reading for pleasure is so important. When children see the delight that reading can bring, it sets them up to becoming readers for life, and I would like to contribute to this choice.

2. What is your creative process like?

I write for at least 6 hours a day. This could be revising an older manuscript, working on a new story, or planning a newsletter or blog post.

Writing is a discipline and a craft, and practice is what makes craft better.

As this is my full time job, and one that I love, I am always learning ways to improve my craft. So I may read up on how to write, for example, or watch a film to see how a story is told through moving images (films and documentaries are different storytelling mediums), or I would read a book when I'm stuck for words.

3. What themes/messages do you like to explore in your work?

I try not to be didactic in my storytelling unless the stories lend themselves to being didactic, like fairytales, for example. And even then, which child wants to be preached to?

My stories help children explore their world and the world around them. My characters are people like them -- one struggles with speaking and is creative in finding a way to overcome this, another uses her sensorial power house to be what she wants to be. One more celebrates a family tradition through storytelling, showing young readers that stories are passed down traditionally. I do these through literary devices like nested narrative structures, magic-realism, whimsy and lyricism.

I love empowering children and that is why I write for children, and my stories explore traditions and tales from my own culture and background, but they have universal themes that any child anywhere in the world can read and enjoy.

4. Please share with us about The House of Little Sisters, as well as any upcoming work you'd like to mention.

THE HOUSE OF LITTLE SISTERS (PRH SEA, 2022) was my debut YA novel. It is a historical fiction set in the 1930s in a hot and humid land called (British) Malaya. Today, we know this land as Singapore and Malaysia. HOUSE, as I call my book, explores the little-known and -discussed history of slavery in Southeast Asia (in particular, Singapore), through the exploration of a historical document, known as the Mui Tsai Ordinance (1932) and the lives of the indentured servant girls involved through the lens of two fictional main characters.

I have four picture book biographies with a fellow art historian and award-winning illustrator called EXPLORING SOUTHEAST ASIA WITH (PRH SEA, 2022). This is a series of four books for readers aged 6-12 about the lives and work of four Southeast Asian artists.

I LOVE CHINESE NEW YEAR (Scholastic UK) is a picture book for children aged 3-6. I have more books -- pictures books and a middle-grade -- forthcoming in the United Kingdom and USA. These are with various trade publishers. These range from art and music history to East and Southeast Asian folktales and fairytales.

5. Where can we find more information about your work?

Amazon, Waterstones (HOUSE, CHINESE NEW YEAR) Foyles, Barnes & Noble

You can also read more about me, my work and books on my website.

I am also found here, and on Twitter and Instagram @evawongnava.

6. Any advice/message for young writers and creators?

Go forth and write the stories you want to read.

Write them without apology.

Writing is a craft, learn it well, so it will serve you well. Then, revise, revise, revise.

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