1. Have you ever gotten “reader’s block” and how did you get through that?
- I start illustrating instead. Drawing and research bring out my creativity.
2. How did you balance writing your story your way and giving readers what they want?
- Probably not successfully as I’ve written Humongous my way. Every time I learned something new and what I thought was an interesting fact, I just wanted to share with everyone (provided I could draw it).
3. What was an experience you had when you discovered the power of words/language?
- I felt more open. I truly felt that my mind was expanding as with each new word that I learned it introduced and exposed me to something else. I felt that I’d been short-changed, wishing that I had the exposure when I was younger to what I’m trying to expose kids to through Humongous (& Cool) Words For Kids.
4. What’s your favorite under the radar novel?
- I really don’t know since most of what I read “for fun” are mainstream bestsellers.
5. How much did real world people influence your characters and do you feel a debt to them?
- Interestingly, Serena Williams, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal influenced my characters. I wanted my characters to be strong, determined, passionate. However, physicists such as Einstein, Nikola Tesla, Marie Curie, Max Planck and their pursuits of truths and wisdom through science have played the most important roles in the kinds of books that I want to share with children and the world.
6. How many unpublished or unfinished books do you have? After successfully finishing this book, do you feel any of those could be revisited?
- I’m presently working on my third book, Hao and Sabine Buy the World’s Currencies, which I intend to self-publish as well.
- I certainly feel that this title Humongous (& Cool) Words For Kids can be revisited with a sequel with much more focus on words and languages from around the world, and a lot more math and science.
7. What did you edit out of this book?
- Certain dialogue that didn’t quite fit well, and certain words and drawings that in the end weren’t really humongous or cool (laugh).
8. Do you read, or plan on reading, reviews of this book? If so, how do you deal with the good and the bad ones?
- I’m always nervous to read reviews, but I read them all. With the good ones, naturally I’m elated especially when the reviewer nails what I’ve tried to do. With the bad ones, honestly, I try to learn from their comments and figure out as objectively as I can how I could take the comments as constructive criticism to apply to my next work.
9. Does your family support your writing career? Were any of them instrumental in the creation process?
- My entire family (husband, kids), yes, as well as my parents. My first son Gabriel who passed away eleven years ago, I believe has been with me throughout my entire writing journey. When certain ideas or dialogue pop into my head, I credit such to him. My middle son Noah gave me the word ‘Humongous’ to use in the title, and both he and his younger sister Zoe are whom the characters Hao and Sabine are based.
10. Do you like audiobooks, e-books, or physical books better? Why?
- I’m old school. I love physical books the most. I love the touch of the page, putting dog-ears into the book, visually seeing how far along in a book I’ve gotten, underlining and writing notes into a book that memorialize my at-the-moment reading thoughts and impressions.
11. What is the most unusual or surprising element of your writing routine?
- I’m not sure if it’s unusual, but the hours that I write. I have a full-time demanding job (that sometimes requires my traveling overseas or being on conference calls at nights). Yet every night I go down for a nap in order to break my day routine from my writing routine. Once I wake up around 9:30/10pm I then proceed to write for about four hours straight. This has been my routine since I started on this journey on December 26th 2016.
12. What is your favorite time of day, season, and place to write? Why?
- I wouldn’t say the following is my favorite because it is what it is since I have a full-time career as an attorney. Thus, I have no choice but to write late at nights during the weekdays and the weekends, irrespective of the season. A particular leather dining room chair is now showing the wear and tear of my sitting on it almost every night since December 26th 2016 when I started my writing journey.
13. What is your favorite word and why?
- Hopefully, you’d allow me to share three: first, the Welsh word cwtch, because of its meaning, i.e., a protective hug to someone you love dearly (that word is in the British edition of Humongous); exoplanet because it shows how vast is the universe with other planets beyond our solar system, and how much we still don’t know; and arbeitsunfähigkeitsbescheinigung, a German word that my six-year-old daughter cracks up over whenever I try to pronounce it.
14. Is there anything you’re currently working on that would intrigue or interest readers?
- I hope so! I’m working on a nonfiction book of the current currencies (banknotes and coins) in circulation of every country and territory in the world. It’s meant to highlight what every country (and not just the “big” and “popular” ones) have contributed to our Earth. It’s meant also to make children in marginalized countries see themselves and their cultures represented positively.
15. Do you share books before they’re done or wait until you have a completed draft?
- I share only once I have a completed draft.
16. Writing is usually seen as a solitary affair, is this true in your case?
- I think so but then I get a thrill speaking about stuff I learn to those closest to me.
17. Do you start out with a concrete plot or let an idea or ideas lead you?
- With a concrete plot
18. What book or author inspired you to start writing?
- JK Rowling and 13th century Sufi poet Rumi. But the book that inspired me was This is How We Do It by Matt Lamothe.
19. Do you read any of your own work after publication?
- Yes, to and with my children
20. Do you have a day job other than writing? Does that job ever get in the way of writing?
- Yes, I’m an attorney.
- It can, but then I make up for it by spending extra time writing on the weekends.
21. Do any of your friends or family seem to have the writing bug?
- A couple of friends do, but have not started writing.
- But the best is that my son Noah started writing short stories in 2017 (at the age of six going on seven) because he saw me writing. Now he’s moved onto writing and illustrating his own comics.
22. How critical are you of your own work compared to reading other authors?
- Mmm, I’m not sure how to answer that question. My books seem different from what’s currently out there.
23. How important is reading other authors to your own writing?
- Very. I like to read how they keep young readers engaged in nonfiction.
24. How important is privacy to you as an author? Do you mind fans or plan on adopting a pseudonym?
- Privacy is very important to me, hence, I write under a pen name. That said, I will always write to and respond to fans especially those who are kids because a true philomath not only is a knowledge-seeker but one that enjoys sharing and discussing this knowledge with others. The latter I truly like doing with readers of my books.