Eva Wong Nava, Author Spotlight

Owen is a boy like any other ordinary little boy. He loves to play the ukulele and he loves to sing. But speaking does not come easily to Owen. He speaks in bits and bobs. He finds that anything is possible with love, kindness and patience.

Hello book lovers! Today is a day where I will be writing another author spotlight for a well-accomplished author whose work I have loved. As you know book lovers I love learning about authors and the inspiration behind their work, it fascinates me and adds to the depth of the book because the reader will be able to better understand it. That is how the author spotlights were created because I soon discovered that you lovely readers ALSO love learning about author’s, so I am excited to tell you a little bit more about author Eva Wong Nava  whose book The Boy Who Talked In Bits and Bobs compelled my children from beginning to end. I personally would recommend this book to all of those that are in search for a new book for your children but really the book can be read by anybody as it is flawlessly written and highly enjoyable. With today’s author spotlight, a biography of the author and an interview between me and Eva Wong Nava will be shared, and I hope that you book lovers enjoy reading it! To kick this off here is an author bio about the wonderful Eva Wong Nava!

Eva Wong Nava lives between two worlds. She loves connecting people through stories. She is an award-winning children’s book author and an advocate for diversity in children’s literature. She believes in writing stories where all children can see themselves represented and reflected. When not writing, Eva teaches Creative Writing using art(e)facts as prompts to help the young and old communicate and play. 

Now, how wonderful does Eva Wong Nava sound?! Eva Wong Nava is a truly exceptional writer and I hope that you lovely readers have a read of the author’s work because you will not regret it! Please see below an interview between me and the author and I hope that you enjoy Eva Wong Nava’s answers to my questions, they are incredible and provide some great advice too!

Thank you for joining us today at Red Headed Book Lover! Please tell us more about yourself

Hello, it’s good to be joining you. An honour. I’m Eva Wong Nava, writer, art historian, educator, and an award-winning children’s book author.

Could you please tell us readers about your book and what inspired you to write your book?

Thanks for your review of The Boy Who Talks in Bits and Bobs. This is my debut children’s picture book for kids between the ages of 4 – 8. This book shines a light on the many children with speech impediments. I was inspired to write Owen’s story after not being able to find a book with a character that mirrored my daughter’s challenges when she was 5 years old and finding it hard to say some words. Since its publication in March 2019, The Boy Who Speaks in Bits and Bobs has been nominated as ‘A Great Read with Your Kids’ by the Reading With Your Kids program, picked as the Book of the Month by an independent online book store in Los Angeles, and given a 5-star review by Readers’ Favorite.

I felt it was important to write The Boy because it’s crucial that all children be able to see themselves reflected in books. I’m an advocate for diversity in children’s literature, and together with Art for Change illustrator, Debasmita Dasgupta, who I collaborated with in creating The Boy Who Talks in Bits and Bobs, we hope that Owen’s story will touch the hearts of the children who have found speech hard and the individuals who at some point in their lives have found it difficult to find their voices. The tagline for this picture book is ‘Your voice is Stronger than you think’ and with this in mind, I hope to encourage children and adults to speak up and be heard.

To reach a wider audience and so that kids can read books and see themselves reflected in them, the publisher, Armour Publishing, has made the title available on Amazon and electronically on Kindle, AppleBooks, Kobo, E-Sentral, and Google Books. Please find your copies in your preferred reading mode and devices and do share this book with your friends and family.

What would your advice be for aspiring writers?

I graduated with an honours degree in English Literature and obtained a post-graduate teaching certificate to teach Literature in schools. My teaching career has taught me that creative writing can be taught. Writing is a craft. But, how one plays with language is a gift. And this gift can be nurtured through reading. Before being able to write, we must read. Reading forms the basis of all sorts of writing. I’m sure I’m not the first to say this nor will I be the last: read like a writer, write like a reader.

In your opinion, what is the most important thing about a book? 

For me, a book is a window into multiple worlds.

What is your writing process like?

My day begins with getting up slowly, shaking off sleep through a short meditation, grounding my mind and soul, before I start to type away. I work at home so I sanctify this space with good vibes and smells by sounding my prayer bowl and lighting my aromatherapy candles. My writing world is a cocoon where I can go deep and focus. If I’m working on a project (I’m also a ghostwriter and copy-editor), I make sure that I take short breaks between writing. As all writers know, when we get into the zone, we can forget to eat, rest and practice self-care. I stay mindful of this and take breaks when I start to feel disconnected with my story.

I write from the heart. This keeps me focused and ensures that my voice is authentic and that I am mindful of respecting my characters, even the secondary ones. I feel that readers will respect your characters if you write them respectfully.

What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?

Research forms the basis of all the books and stories I write. Thank you for asking this important question. Let me start with my debut middle-grade book, Open: A Boy’s Wayang Adventure. The eponymous protagonist of this story is on the spectrum. To write about Open, I had to dig deep and remember at least 17 years of research on Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). My research on ASD is a continual process as there is always something new that we are learning about Spectrum Disorders. For this award-winning (Moonbeam Children’s Book Award) middle-grade book, I can say that my research already started over 17 years ago and continues today. I also learnt from friends caring for children on the spectrum as well as from autistic individuals themselves.

For The Boy Who Talks in Bits and Bobs, I read up on speech impediments, something that I’d started doing when my now 13-year daughter was five. It took me a few months to do my reading up, consolidating what I’ve read and sieving the information that was necessary for The Boy. I also spoke to speech therapists and people working with special needs children. I listened to what they had to say and took in their concerns about representing a character with special needs, especially one who stammers and making sure that I represented Owen accurately.

I love historical fiction. I tend to write stories weaving historical elements into them. For this, research is crucial as I want to make sure that I’m getting my facts right. So I read other historical fiction to see how other writers craft their stories and read up on the history presented in these stories to learn more.

Do you have a set schedule for writing, or do you only write when you feel inspired?

I write every day. This can be in the form of a blog post, revising a story and/or editing one that I’d started. I also keep a notebook with me and when I’m inspired by a thought, a comment, a random conversation or an image, I jot these down.

Do you read much and if so who are your favorite authors?

As I write children’s books, I read a lot of children’s books. I love Michael Morpurgo, British Children’s Laureate. He writes about some very difficult issues and topics with the ease of language and the conviction that children are able to process topics like divorce, war and discrimination. I’ve just finished Morpurgo’s My Father is a Polar Bear, a poignant story about a boy’s search for his estranged father. This is a children’s chapter book with intermittent pages of illustrations. I tend to read authors in sequence. Right now, it’s Morpurgo. Some of Morpurgo’s books are re-reads too. I just love what a great storyteller he is.

I also enjoyed Coraline by Neil Gaiman. I loved how he started the book for one daughter and ended it for another — showing us that sometimes books take longer than envisioned to write. There is also that slightly dark, macabre and fantastical quality about Coraline that I love. Gaiman is not afraid to show children the shadows that lurk in children’s stories and does this with the panache of a great writer. Lots of kudos to him.

Judy Blume remains my all-time favourite. When I started writing at the tender age of 10, it was my dream to write like Judy Blume.

Other than writing for children, I also write Flash Fiction for adults. These are stories under 1,000 words and some stories are even written in as little as 100 words. I read Raymond Carver for inspiration and Ernest Hemingway too. I love Joyce Carol Oates and Donna Tartt, both for intense and emotive dramatic writing that is memorable. For non-fiction, I’m reading Reviving Ophelia: Saving the Selves of Adolescent Girls by Mary Pipher and her daughter, Sara Pipher Gilliam, at the moment. I like how some non-fiction is written creatively, making an important topic which can be dry when written academically, readable and relatable. Anthony Bourdain for food writing and creative non-fiction. Yums!

Lastly, when can we readers expect to read more wonderful books from you?  

Thank you for asking this.

My forthcoming picture book is launching soon. Do look out for Mina’s Magic Malong, published by Penguin Random House, hitting your shelves in July 2019.

Here’s what some people are saying about this book: “Eva’s tender scene of the bond forged between Ella and her caregiver, Mina, gives voice to an often invisible group.” ” This heartwarming and tender story is a reminder that these migrant women are not just workers; more importantly, they are loving mothers who are able to give immensely of themselves even in separation from their own loved ones.” “Mina’s Magic Malong is a heart touching story about a young girl and her caregiver, that reminds children as well as adults about the beauty of culture and how we must never take for granted those that put us before themselves.”

There will be another picture book collaboration with Debasmita Dasgupta, forthcoming in 2020. I’m really excited about this collab and can’t wait to share more about it.

Finally, I’m working on researching for my work-in-progress picture book biographies of strong Asian females who’ve contributed to STEM activism and research. These books will be forthcoming between 2020 and 2021.

Its official book lovers, I am obsessed with Eva Wong Nava! If you have liked what you have read about the author and are interested in learning more, then please do have a browse of the links below and be sure to have a read of the preview too! You will not regret it.

Goodbye for now book lovers,

Amazon U.S. – Amazon U.K. – Goodreads

Author: Website – Instagram – Facebook

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