Tuesday, May 5, 2015

A.S. Chung, Author of A Brand New Day

as chung, a brand new day, diverse books, diverse children's book
A.S. Chung is the author of the children's picture book, A Brand New Day – A Banana Split Story.

Tell us a bit about yourself.
I am a mother of a young toddler with a very normal professional career in the service industry. The writing component of my personal career, whilst was always prevalent, didn’t become a reality until later on in life. A recent divorce sparked my need to put pen on paper as both an outlet for getting through difficult times and also borne out of a need that I found was lacking (see below for further details).

Apart from writing, I am a regular suburban mum with a great love for photography, travelling, event management and spending lots of time socially with my close friends. 
Describe your new children’s book in a few sentences.
A Brand New Day deals with the topic of divorce, without ever actually mentioning it. It details the life of a little girl who has to split her time between her parents throughout the week and during school holidays. The book highlights all the special things she does with each individual parent and how love can still provide the child with a very loving and engaging life, without the dramas of poor co-parenting. Essentially, the book is designed to highlight the positive, to give the child hope that the future can be bright.
Who do you think would most appreciate this book?
A Brand New Day is written for three groups of audiences. Of course, its primary audience is the young reader who is going through divorce. The beautiful illustrations and loving words are meant to sooth the pain and anxieties that come with it.

The book is also for the parent. A way to communicate what life could potentially be like. It doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom. Sometimes it’s hard for the parent to paint a pretty picture at the end of it all whilst going through a divorce. This is just to aid that process.

Lastly, the book is also a resource for families and friends of divorce. I know that my circle of friends at the time, who also have very young children, had great difficulty explaining divorce when their families were perfectly fine! It made for a challenging conversation and I thought perhaps this book could help them understand it a little more.
What inspired you to write a children’s book that helps children learn how to cope with life’s challenges?
I was unable to find written resources for my then 4 year old daughter about divorce. In particular, I was looking for positive children’s picture books about the subject matter. In its absence, I was inspired to create Pigeonhole Books, which is a gentle resource to deal with life’s challenges. It was a way for me to communicate with my daughter and show her that life continues despite initial difficulties.

I have a great desire to preach positive messages and the importance of love and family to young children. Therefore, Pigeonhole Books is a project very close to my heart. Apart from the topic of divorce, Pigeonhole Books also deals with same-sex, blended and multiracial families.
Did you do the illustrations for the book? What goals did you want to accomplish with the illustrations?
I commissioned illustrator Paula Bossio for A Brand New Day. I was very open to how she would interpret the book and I didn’t want to restrict her style by giving too many boundaries to work with.  Paula has an incredible knack for turning my words into beautiful illustrations. For this book, I hardly even made any changes. It was perfect from the start to the end!

Ultimately, I wanted the illustrations to be lovely and beautiful, understated and not boisterous and most importantly to convey a positive outlook.
In addition to being an author, you’re a parent. How has your daughter responded to A Brand New Day?
When I first introduced the book to her, I didn’t tell her I had written it, let alone written it for her. By the time the book had been published, she had already gone through a year of co-parenting.

This is the second book I had done so upon finishing, she had an inkling I had written it and she asked me if it was about her. She laughed at all the right spots, pointed to scenarios which she could relate to and instantly asked me to read it again. A year down the track, she still requests that we read it together, except, now she reads it to me.
Are there any children’s book authors who have influenced your writing style?
I read a lot of books when I was a child, mainly all the classics. No one author influenced my style but they all in their own way showed me that I am only limited by my imagination. My style is my own and my writing reflects my message and in the tone I wish to convey it in.
Can you tell us a bit about the creative process of creating A Brand New Day, from the initial idea to the finished book?
I wish I had a great story to tell about the process or a sudden epiphany I had which led me to write A Brand New Day. Truth be told, I had a bad day with my daughter’s father. I ended the day completely dejected, tired and just plain miserable. I was ever so worried about my daughter and how we had changed her life forever.

I turned on the computer, opened a blank word document and just started typing. Two things startled me when I finished it in a matter for 30 minutes. There was an actual story, from start to finish, not just random words on a paper and also that I had written it in rhyme! Within the next 2 weeks, I had written another 4 manuscripts. Of course, since the first draft, I have edited the manuscript a million times.
What do you have in mind for your next project?
I am in the midst of having my next book illustrated. It is entitled Wishful Wedding and is the first book in the Pocketful of Pride series. This collection features stories about children from families with same-sex parents and marriage equality. 

Is there anything else you'd like potential readers to know about your book?
This book is not simply a children’s picture book to be enjoyed by all. It is a divorce resource. It is designed to help children and families alike. It is also about publishing diverse books. We don’t have enough of those!

Banana rhymes with my daughter’s name and is her adorable little nickname. Divorce is such a grown up, ugly, real word. To be honest, split isn’t much better but coupled with banana, it made for a cute series title! 

Relevant Links
Where To Purchase A Brand New Day
Barnes & Noble
Book Depository

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