Friday, November 18, 2011

Interview with Natash Yim, Author of Cixi "The Dragon Empress"

Natasha Yim is a children's book author and freelance writer. Her first book, Otto's Rainy Day was published by Charlesbridge Publishing in 2000. It was selected as a Kids' Pick of the Lists. She has written for Highlights for Children, Appleseeds and Faces magazines, and her new picture book biography, Cixi, The Dragon Empress was released by Goosebottom Books in October 2011.

Could you tell us a little about yourself?
I’m a children’s book author, freelance writer, and playwright. My first picture book, Otto’s Rainy Day, was published in 2000 by Charlesbridge Publishing. It was a Kids’ Pick of the Lists for that year. Cixi, The Dragon Empress, a picture book biography, was just released in October 2011 by Goosebottom Books. I have also written articles for adult magazines such as “Vibrant Life”, “AsiaPacific”, and “Mendocino Arts” as well as the children’s magazines, “Highlights for Children”, “Appleseeds”, and “Faces”. My ten-minute plays have been performed in venues around Northern California; Los Angeles; Sydney, Australia; with an upcoming play to be performed in Singapore this December.

Describe your desk/workspace.
I’m a mobile writer. I do have a desk in my office which actually has a gorgeous view, but it’s on an upper level, so it gets really hot up there in the summertime, so I almost never work in my office during those months. Besides, it’s currently completely cluttered, so I’ll have to clean it up for the winter months. Right now, my writing space is often the dining table if I have to plug in my computer, or in the armchair in my living room. I also work in local coffee shops such as Starbucks. Working outside of my home allows me to focus on my projects without the distraction of dirty dishes, or laundry that needs to be done.

Do you have a favorite quote?
I actually have two, one from Richard Bach: “A professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit”, and one from E.L. Doctorow: “Writing is like driving at night in the fog. You may only be able to see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.”

What are you currently reading?
Charlie Price’s (this year’s Edgar Award winner for Young Adult) Dead Connection.

What is the best advice you've ever received?          
I’ve received so many over the years at writer’s conferences, and I’ve used them at different junctures in my writing to help me that I don’t think there’s one specific one that’s been the best. However, I like to go back to Richard Bach’s quote above to remind me never to give up.

If you could have coffee with anyone (living or dead, real or fictional), who would it be and why?
      David Sedaris. I think he’s tremendously funny, and he views the everyday, ordinary things that happen to  him with such humor and a quirky perspective. I think we share that in common. I’d love to chat with him  about his life in France and his travels around the world.

What are your top three favorite books and why?
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee—I love the Voice of Scout, and Atticus’ bravery and integrity. Harper Lee’s descriptions of the South in the 60’s are so vivid, you’re immediately transported to that time and place. 

A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving—it’s such a sad, poignant story, but yet uplifting in ways and very funny, at parts. Owen also has such a distinct, well-developed character.

     Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell—Scarlett O’Hara is one of those unforgettable protagonists who is extremely flawed, yet admirable and strong, a Southern woman who during the Civil War period did not merely get married and fade into obscurity, but took charge of her destiny. Mitchell’s writing is evocative, and she created great characters in Scarlett, Rhett, and Melanie.

What was your favorite book as a child and why?
Lucy Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables. I loved Anne’s spunky character, and she was a klutz sort of like me when I was a child, so I could totally relate to her. It also had a lot of humorous moments and I like funny books.

What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?
I’m not sure I have one.

Do you write full-time or part-time?
      I write whenever I can squeeze some writing time in and I’m not doing kid-related things or being a mom, so in my mind, I write full time. But if you count the hours a day I actually get to do any writing, maybe 5 hours or less, it’ll  be considered part time in the corporate world.

What are your current marketing strategies for Cixi, The Dragon Empress.?
       Try to get the word about the book out in the real and cyber world as much as possible. I have a website, a blog, Twitter, a personal facebook page, and a Cixi, The Dragon Empress fan page.  I post announcements of upcoming events and other interesting information on my social media pages. I’ve done interviews in local print newspapers, on blogtalk radio (The Rhonda Knight show), and on The Author Show (www.theauthorsshow.com), and created a Facebook ad. which garnered 266 ‘likes’ from 22 different countries for my book. I’ve attended two book launches for the release of Goosebottom Books’ The Dastardly Dames series, in which Cixi, The Dragon Empress, is one of six books, done book signings and events at writing conferences, book fairs, Girltopia, the Girl Scout Expo. In Los Angeles, and am now starting to get requests for school visits.

Could you share about any current writing projects?
I have just completed the biography of Sacajawea for Goosebottom Books that will be added to their first series, The Thinking Girl’s Treasury of Real Princesses. It will be released in fall, 2012. Charlesbridge Publishing (publisher of my first book, Otto’s Rainy Day) has just acquired my picture book manuscript, Goldy Luck and the Three Chans. I have a picture book and a middle-grade project I’m working on. But I’m going to take a short break from books, and work on some play projects through the rest of fall and winter, including a children’s play about the Dastardly Dames for my town’s local children’s performing art center.

What would be the best way for readers to contact you?
My website is: www.natashayim.com, and my blog is: www.natashayim.blogspot.com. You can also find me on Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/natashayim, and on the Cixi, The Dragon Empress Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/cixithedragonempress
You can follow me on LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/natashayim

Where can people find your book, Cixi, The Dragon Empress?

         www.natashayim.com
          www.goosebottombooks.com
          www.ipgbook.com

Is there anything else you'd like to share?
Tune in to The Authors Show, www.theauthorsshow.com to listen to my interview with host Don MacAuley from Nov. 2-3, 2011.

Natasha Yim’s current book, Cixi, The Dragon Empress and Gretchen Maurer’s current book, Mary Tudor, “Bloody Mary” are two of the six books (all written by different authors) in Goosebottom Books’ series, The Thinking Girl’s Treasury of Dastardly Dames. The series profiles six women in history who have earned dastardly reputations.

You can find out more about Natasha Yim and Gretchen Maurer’s World of Ink Author/Book Tour schedule at http://storiesforchildrenpublishing.com/YimandMaurer.aspx. There will be giveaways, reviews, interviews, guest posts and more. Make sure to stop by and interact with Yim and Maurer, along with the hosts at the different stops by leaving comments and/or questions.

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