I'm excited to introduced you to Vicky Fang! Vicky has been a member of Storyteller Academy for nearly as long as I have. Her debut picture book sounds like a really fun way to introduce coding to kids.
Q: What is your background? Your profession?
A: I’m a designer at Google. I’ve been an interaction designer in technology for over 10 years, designing tons of cool projects—like interactive buildings, or robots you can make at home, or games you can play with your voice. For the last five years, I’ve been designing experiences for kids, often with STEM goals in mind.
Vicky's Motivating Factor
Q: What made you want to start writing picture books?
A: I started writing because I wanted to empower kids in STEM and I saw picture books as a unique opportunity to do so. Working in Silicon Valley, all of my design for kids has been built on digital technology. But as a designer, I see picture books as an amazing interactive experience, with no technology at all. This is what inspired me to tackle this craft: a new opportunity to connect with kids to delight and empower them.
Q: How long have you been writing?
A: I started writing about two and a half years ago. I joined SCBWI about 6 months in, and that’s when I started to understand the hill I had just signed up to climb.
Q: Are you involved in any writing communities that have contributed to your success?
A: The kidlit community is so inviting and there are so many groups that I lean on for advice, support, and inspiration! In particular, I continue to find inspiration from 12x12, Writing with the Stars, and of course, Arree’s Storyteller Academy.
Q: Have you ever felt frustrated by trying to get a picture book right?
A: All the time! I feel like writing a picture book is like trying to put together a puzzle where the pieces keep changing shape. It's incredibly frustrating, but that's part of what makes it so rewarding.
Her Storyteller Academy Experience
Q: When and why did you take Arree Chung’s Making Picture Book Stories and Dummies?
A: I took Arree’s Making Picture Book Stories and Dummies about a year into writing (so in summer 2017). I had seen a free webinar he had posted to promote the course. The webinar was so helpful that I knew I had to sign up for the class, and I’m so glad I did!
Q: How did taking Arree’s class change the way you write picture books?
A: Arree’s class really helped me understand how to make headway in improving my craft as a writer. At that time in my writing journey, I was pretty aware of my larger strengths and weaknesses, but I didn’t have the tools to meaningfully move myself forward. Arree’s class really helped me understand the details of how to analyze story structures, character, and visuals to actively improve my craft. The materials and guidance gave me practical tools to write and pitch better stories. I also signed up for one-on-one sessions with Arree. His personal feedback and advice was so important in helping me better understand myself as a writer and the industry as a whole. Arree is such an open and supportive teacher with tons of knowledge and insight.
Vicky's Picture Book Debut
Q: Could you tell us about your recent book deal?
A: My debut picture book, INVENT-A-PET, is scheduled for publication in Spring 2020 from Sterling Children's Books. Pitched as Dear Zoo meet Ada Twist, Scientist, it’s a STEM-based story that introduces basic coding concepts as a girl programs a mysterious machine in a quest to develop the perfect pet. It’s being edited by Rachael Stein and illustrated by Tidawan Thaipinnarong. Special thanks to my wonderful agent, Elizabeth Bennett, for seeing the potential and finding the right home for this book.
Q: Do you have any advice that might help our blog readers find satisfaction or joy in writing picture books?
A: Find a great critique group! It's so helpful to have friends to learn, commiserate, and celebrate with in this painfully slow industry. I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for my amazing critique partners, Christine Evans and Faith Kazmi. (You should definitely pre-order Christine’s beautiful debut book, Evelyn the Adventurous Entomologist.)
Q: What’s next for you?
A: I'm starting to think about promotion for my first picture book (yay!!!). I'm also working on edits for a not-yet-announced deal that I'm incredibly excited about. Plus, I have a couple other projects out or going out on submission soon and am always trying to brainstorm new ideas.
Q: Where can we find you on the Internet?
A: Find me on twitter: @fangmous or on my website: www.fangmous.com. I'm also part of an awesome 2020 debut picture book group, @Soaring20sPB. Follow us to hear about the journeys of a talented crew of 2020 debut authors!