Today we are talking with Joanne Wong, an author and illustrator. Thank you, Joanne for being here. First off, tell us a little about yourself.
I was born in Hertfordshire, England. Since 2010 I have lived in my ancestral home of Hong Kong with my husband and a blue-eyed rabbit named Bunni.
What is your earliest memory of books?
Books filled our home when I was a child. My favorite books as a kid included ones by Roald Dahl and Beatrix Potter. I loved the silliness and humor of Roald Dahl’s writing, as well Quentin Blake’s loose, quirky illustrations to go with it. I also loved Potter’s simple stories and her beautiful animal illustrations.
How did you come to be an author/illustrator?
I’ve always loved drawing and art, so it was a natural progression to take an arty subject at University.
I studied Graphic Design and Illustration at University. I’ve taken on various creative freelance jobs and projects along the way. It wasn’t until a couple of years ago that I decided to pursue my dream of being an author and illustrator.
What inspired you to pursue that dream at that point in time?
I’ve never thought I had any stories to tell, until I was inspired by an actual dream I had that was a catalyst for me to making a book. During those years, my art was becoming more and more playful and geared towards children; I guess working with children had an affect on my artwork.
What does it look like to watch you work in your studio?
My studio is a spare room that I share with my rabbit, who often distracts me away from my work with his cute hay eating. I have my cup of herbal tea and also emergency snack on hand for refueling.
Rabbits seem to hold a special place in your life and your art.
I’ve always had an obsession with rabbits even as a child my favorite stuffed toy was a rabbit, and I vividly remember drawing lots of rabbits in my sketchbook as a child, it’s a shame I don’t have that sketchbook anymore!
In 2009, I went to Beijing to travel and work. I had an exhibition at a boutique where I showcased some of my rabbit drawings. With a stroke of luck, the Art Director of a telecom network in China saw my work.
He commissioned me to create a series of rabbit illustrations for their “Year of the Rabbit” calendar. It was a fun project.
It started off as a personal book project that I decided to self-publish using Createspace. At this point, I wasn’t a member of SCBWI (Society of Children’s Books Writers and Illustrators) nor did I know any people from the Kidlit community. The people who I asked for help were mainly friends.
Overall, it was a rewarding experience and I learned a tremendous amount. It brought me to new places, and the story has touched more people.
Now you are pursuing traditional publishing with a new project.
Having gone through self-publishing Mollie, I’ve had a taste of what an author and illustrator does. Self-publishing is great for those who already have a good marketing sense and a large social network. Maybe I will look into self-publishing again in the future, but not at this time.
I’d like to go the traditional route now as I feel that I can learn more about the Kidlit industry and my work can be improved further by collaborating with professionals in the field.
To help with that, I joined SCBWI this past summer. It has been great as I found a huge network of people who are involved in children’s books.
Tell us a little bit about your current project.
I’ve started to submit my story called The Noisy Bird. It’s about a cat and dog who are best friends, then disaster happens when the owner brings home a bird. It's a funny story about friendship and overcoming problems with creative methods! I’m awaiting feedback, so let’s see!
What is the best advice that anyone has given you during this process toward becoming published?
Join SCBWI! Meeting up with other like-minded people and having a creative support network has been a lifesaver; I just wish I found it earlier! Being an Illustrator/author doesn't need to be a lonely journey. There is support out there!
Thank you Joanne for taking the time to talk with us and share your beautiful work.
The paperback version of Joanne's book Mollie, Fluffy, and the Magic Shell is available on Amazon here and the hardback version is available on her website.
If you would like to see more of Joanne's work or to contact her to discuss a writing and/or illustration project, go to her website http://www.joannewong.co.uk/ .
Also, follow her on Facebook at: www.facebook.com/joannewong.art and Instagram: joannewongart
*Note: all artwork and photographs are the property of Joanne Wong. All rights reserved*