Friday, April 11, 2014

Author Interview with Gueh Yanting, Claudine

The DMS was lucky enough to interview Gueh Yanting, Claudine. Fairday reviewed her book Little Orchid's Sea Monster Trouble, and we are excited to learn more about this story. So, without further ado... take it away, Claudine!


What inspired you to write Little Orchid’s Sea Monster Trouble?

My first piece of amateur writing + a dream.

Little Orchid’s story originated from her mother’s – Mother Lee (whom I’d called Moon Flower when I wrote her story more than five years ago). It was the first piece of fiction I’d written and it was an adult story about a 70-year-old mother losing and regaining her relationship with her youngest daughter, Little Orchid. She, the mother, lived alone in a crooked house on the family farm and had a heart attack. I never completed that story but it was always tucked at the back of my mind. By the time I’d gone into children’s literature, I knew I could tell Moon Flower’s story by telling Little Orchid’s first. One day, I will get to Moon Flower’s story again.


As for the dream I had, it was about a Malay princess bride escaping onto a train and transforming into a cuttlefish. A bizarre dream. I don’t know any Malay princesses and I certainly don’t know anyone who’s turned into a sea creature. But there it was. Too vivid to be forgotten. I’m blessed to be able to remember some of my dreams. Anyway, I wrote this as a short story, which didn’t work, so I tried it on Little Orchid. Their combination works so much better than I was expecting!

How long did it take you to write Little Orchid’s Sea Monster Trouble?

Taking into account the setting-research done on Moon Flower’s story, about five years. The actual change of it into a children’s story took two years.

Snow Queen/Edmund Dulac
What is your favorite fairy tale? Who is the character that you most relate to?

The Snow Queen. (I have a thing for stories that are a little sad in the cold way. There’s mystery in the aloof appearance and the frosty heart.)

As for the character I relate the most to, it’s Pinocchio. It shows on my face when I’m lying (not the nose, though), and there’s also this inexplicable understanding towards the puppet’s need to be a real boy.

What inspired the personality traits for the characters in this story (sea -dwelling and human)?

There is a bit of me (the ‘me’ in childhood) in Little Orchid. As for the Baby Lobster, he is loosely based on a young girl I tutor – energetic, sometimes timid, but strongly supportive and honest.

If you could befriend a character from one of your stories, who would you befriend? Why?

 Buffalo Brother – he tries to fit in the Lee family, works hard, and takes care of the girls like a real brother should. But on another level, he’s pretty much on his own. Part of the family, but not really.

Where do you like to write? Do you have any writing rituals?

I do most of my work at home but I like writing at my local library’s café. Just some music (acoustic folk or piano) and I’m off.

If you could live anywhere, fictional or real, where would it be? Why?

A small town, preferably by the sea, with a good coffee shop, like the setting of Gilmore Girls or Ghost Whisperer (not that I’m a huge fan of these shows, just a huge, huge fan of their settings). So I could dress pretty and write pretty. The sea will make me feel pretty. (I’m quite vain ...)

The illustrations are whimsical and fascinating. Who is your favorite illustrator? What element of their creative style do you enjoy?

Thanks, I’m glad you like the illustrations. I can’t pick just one favourite illustrator, so here goes: Alison Jay (the quiet warmth in her colours, and her attention to details); Chris Van Allsburg (details and sense of grandeur); Chiaki Okada (the soft tones and portrayal of adorable Japanese girls and rabbits); Pamela Zagarenski (her sense of wonder), and Kate Greenaway medalist Helen Cooper (the strokes, the colours, the way she makes living in that cabin in the woods adventurous).


Illustration by Gueh Yanting, Claudine/ Little Orchid's Sea Monster Trouble 

If you were to turn into a sea creature, what would you wish to be?

When I first received these interview questions, my thought on this one was “a prawn” for I love eating them. But that can’t be good for me! So I’m going to go with the sea turtle. I’ll get to bring my home everywhere, and I’ll always have a place to sleep in.
Where can we purchase your books?

From my website at an early-bird offer of US$1 {for 5 days only: 9th – 13th April 2014}: CarryUsOff Books 

Connect with this author!
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49 comments:

  1. A small town by the sea sounds lovely and it's great having vivid dreams that inspire. Awesome interview.

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    1. Thank you, Medeia. I hear that vivid dreams have served many writers & artists very well. They are precious, even the nightmares!

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  2. What an amazing dream! And I also wish I lived in one of those beautiful small towns, especially one with a wonderful coffee shop!

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    1. I hope we all get to live in beautiful towns with quaint coffee shops at least once in this lifetime. Thanks for the lovely comment, Meradeth!

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  3. Lovely to get to know more about Claudine and her books, thank you.

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    1. Thank you for spreading the word on this post on FB, Tracy!

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  4. Just want to thank my wonderful hosts, Jess & Stephanie, for having me and for adding those beautiful pictures up there. Love the pencil sketches and the depth of details. It always feels like home here at the DMS.

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  5. I had to enter to win this one. I read your post about it the other day and loved the story. The illustrations are precious. Great to read more about the author.

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    1. So happy to hear that you like the sound of the story, Ms. McKenzie. Good luck with winning!

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  6. I like that this is based on such a strange dream! I would totally like to live in a small town like the one on Ghost Whisperer as well. I put this on my kids' reading list :)

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  7. Just the title of the book reeled me in. If you pardon the pun. What a great premise and being such a great guy, I shall take the liberty of sharing this posting. Thank you for this and have a lovely weekend.

    Gary :)

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    1. Thanks for sharing the post, Gary. Happy weekend!

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  8. The part about the dream is fascinating! In fact, this whole interview is great! Gotta enter the Rafflecopter and keep my fingers crossed!

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  9. Oops, forgot to say what sea creature I'd want to be. Hmm, I think dolphins are awesome, so that's my choice!

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    1. Dolphins are awesome. Thanks for entering the giveaway, Lyn!

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  10. Now THAT'S a dream. Love the feel of these stories.

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  11. It sounds like a lovely story, and your illustrations are gorgeous.

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  12. It's so nice to meet Gueh! It sounds like a wonderful story. I love the illustrations. Best wishes, Gueh! Thanks, Jess, for sharing! :)

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    1. It's very nice to meet you all here, too, Karen. Thanks for your wishes!

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  13. My dreams are useless, so I'm glad yours inspired you! I love the idea of a girl turning into a cuttlefish - kinda scary and gross, just like a girl's real journey into adulthood. I'd pick a turtle (or tortoise) too! :)

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    1. Lol, it was scary and gross in my dream, Lexa. But it was also kind of mysterious. Like you said, it's like a girl's growing into adulthood.

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  14. Hmm... I would be an octopus. :) This book sounds really good. :)

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    1. Octopuses are highly intelligent sea creatures. Good choice, Erik!

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  15. I LOVE story dreams, and I think it's the core emotion in them that can get us writing. The dream world taps into our subconscious and the core of our emotional drive.

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    1. I really like the way you put it, Crystal - "taps into our subconscious and the core of our emotional drive." Sometimes story dreams don't just give us plot. They also 'give' us the mood of our future stories.

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  16. I would totally love to live there, so cool that you dreamed about it!

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  17. Congratulations! This book sounds awesome!

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  18. What a lovely interview. It’s so interesting to read the reasoning behind a story.
    I hope you do write Moon Flower’s story one day Claudine, I’m sure it will be beautiful.

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    1. I hope to get to Moon Flower's in few years (when my writing has matured enough to match what she has to say). Thanks for reading the interview, Barbara!

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  19. Great interview--best of luck with your latest book!

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    1. Thank you, Marcia. All the brightness with your books, too! xoxo

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  20. I really enjoyed your interview, Claudine and congratulations on your new book. May your imagination and dreams continue to carry you off to wonderful places. Continued success!

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    1. Thank you, Barry! What an absolute treat to hear from you. May your writing take you to new places and beautiful heights, too!

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  21. Hi! What a lovely interview, I so want to read this book now! If I were to turn into a sea creature, I would wish to be a blue whale. No one would ever mess with me (except humans, but it's another topic)

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    1. Kaie- I am so glad you enjoyed the interview. I hope you get to read this wonderful book soon. :) A blue whale is an excellent choice! :) ~L

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    2. For some reason, blue whales sound romantic. I love your choice, Kaie. Thanks for your interest in the story!

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  22. Great interview! I love anything to do with crooked houses...so many story possibilities there. :)

    And if I were a sea creature, I'd totally want to be mermaid!

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    1. Katie- Thanks for visiting! I love crooked houses too and mermaids are fascinating. :) ~L

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    2. One of my students would love to be a mermaid! Thanks for stopping by. (Also, I really must get to Moon Flower's story and her time in that crooked house in this lifetime.)

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  23. Lovely interview, Claudine! If I was a sea creature, I think I'd pick the starfish--they have always fascinated me!

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    1. Becky- Thanks for stopping in. :) Starfish are definitely interesting! ~L

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    2. I agree, starfish are fascinating. (Though I do get goosebumps looking at them up close.)

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  24. That illustration for 'Waiting' is just so, so lovely. Other-wordly, really.

    Your work has a very special quality, too, Jess.

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    1. Suze- I agree with you about "Waiting"!

      Thanks for your sweet words about my illustrations. :) ~Jess

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