- Can you introduce yourself, what’s your name, where are you from… ?
My name is Eugenia Chu and I’m a first-generation Chinese-American citizen. I was born in New Jersey but moved around a lot. I have also lived in Massachusetts, Florida (west coast), Maryland, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Washington, DC, and New York. In addition, I spent my gap year between college and law school in Taipei, Taiwan, and a summer abroad in Shanghai, China. I now live in Miami Beach with my husband and son, Brandon.
- Tell us something unexpected about yourself!
I’m a retired attorney. And I like frogs!
- Give 2 things about yourself that you think matter the most?
I’m a mom; and I always try to do the right thing, although sometimes it doesn’t work out that way!
- IDENTITY CARD
- Do you remember the first book you read?
I really don’t remember! Probably a Dr. Seuss book – perhaps Cat in the Hat.
- What makes you laugh/cry?
My son! He is silly and makes me laugh every day!
- In which genre do you write?
Children’s – my first was a picture book; the one I am currently working on is an early chapter book.
- What makes your book special, how is it different from other books in your genre?
I wrote Brandon Makes Jiǎo Zi (餃子) specifically because I couldn’t find anything else like it – so I think it is extraordinarily special! When my son was very young, I always read a few stories to him every night before bed so I was constantly looking for new books to buy. I bought tons of children’s picture books but I could never find any books in English which also had some Mandarin Chinese in the story to teach and/or reinforce his Chinese vocabulary. I wanted to find storybooks which included a little Chinese and touched upon Chinese culture, but the only books I could find that had any Chinese in them were ABC/123 instructional type books with no (or very little) storyline or were straight translations with Chinese one side and English on the other. Not what I was looking for. I also didn’t see many books that included both Chinese characters and Pinyin pronunciation. So I started writing my own. This book has Chinese interwoven throughout the story and tells a funny family oriented story – it is not simply instructional or pure translation. Also, the Chinese phrases and sentences are natural and the way a Chinese grandmother and her mostly English-speaking grandson would speak to each other – they are not forced and included simply so that there is some Chinese in the book. I feel that this story will be fun to read for both parents/teachers/caregivers and children alike.
- How do you feel when you write, do you have a special ritual?
I really don’t have any special rituals. I write whenever the urge hits me! Although I have more time in the mornings and late at night after my son goes to bed, so I tend to do most of my writing then. I also write in different places – sometimes my office, but more often than not, on the couch with a glass of wine! And usually in my pajamas!
- What inspired you to write your first book?
My son is my inspiration and the reason I write. When my son was very young, after we finished reading a bedtime story (or 2 or 3) every night, we would talk about his day and everything he did. We would make up little stories about his day as we drifted off to sleep. For instance, whenever my parents came to visit, he and my mom would make Chinese dumplings or jiǎo zi together (they still do this to this day). Making jiǎo zi is their favorite thing to do together and was one of the things he loved talking about at bedtime. Because I couldn’t find any storybooks with Chinese included in the story, I started writing my own just for my son based on these bedtime discussions. Brandon Makes Jiǎo Zi (餃子) is based on this beloved tradition between Brandon and my mom.
- How did you come up with the title?
It’s descriptive and tells what the story is about. It also lets people know there’s a little Chinese in the story.
- If you could be any famous book character, who would you be and why?
You ask tough questions! I would love to give you an answer where the character is deep and helps the world, and my reasoning is equally as impressive and thought provoking . . . but I am going to go with the Cat in the Hat because he is always happy, he’s magical and he has this little Thing One and Thing Two guys doing all his dirty work! He seems to live a charmed life and children love him! And not only is he a famous book character, but he also has his own TV series, so he is a famous TV star, too – haha!
- Is there a message in your book that you hope the readers will grasp?
There are 2 (well, more than 2, but these are the most important to me): First, family traditions are special and grandparents should be loved, respected and revered. Spending time with them, learning from them and doing things with them like cooking should be cherished. And second, learning and speaking Chinese is fun! It’s important to learn a second language for so many reasons – not only does it open up a world of job opportunities, help to develop cross-cultural friendships and make traveling easier and more fun, but it also helps with memory improvement and brain power! And children are like little sponges – they absorb languages so much more easily than adults so it’s really beneficial to introduce a foreign language to a child at a young age – the younger the better!
- What are your top 3 books of all time?
Wow, that’s a really difficult question! I’m a voracious reader and love so many of the books I have read! I can’t pick just 3!
- How important is marketing and social media for you?
It’s the only way to let people know my book even exists so It’s extremely important!
- Is it important for you to get book reviews? Do you read them?
I look at reviews when I decide whether to buy something, so I assume others do, too! Therefore, it is very important for me to get book reviews – but, it’s not easy! I hate begging for reviews, but maybe it’s what I need to do. Yikes! And yes, I read all my reviews – even though I have been advised against doing so! So far, I haven’t received any horrible reviews, so I’m happy – just need more!
- What advice do you have for other writers?
Write because you love to write and don’t let others discourage you. Not everyone will love what you write, but if it brings you joy then it’s worth it. And if only one other person loves your work and gets pleasure from reading your work, then you are a success! Also, start marketing as soon as possible – even before you publish, if you can! I wish I had done that! Get on social media – set up a Facebook Author page, Twitter account, and Instagram account. Also, set up author pages on Amazon and Goodreads. Join author groups on social media – I have found that most authors are wonderful people who help and support one another! This interview is a great example of one author helping to promote another! Finally, if you write children’s books, get in touch with schools and set up author visits. I sell more books at school readings than anywhere else! And keep writing! Always keep writing! Good luck to all my fellow authors!
- Can you give your book information: blurb, link, genre (for children’s book, please tell for what age)
Brandon Makes Jiǎo Zi (餃子)
Hook: A Picture book with a little Mandarin Chinese about a boy bonding with his grandma
Blurb: Brandon gets a surprise visit from his grandma from China, Pó Po (婆婆). While Brandon and Pó Po (婆婆) are making jiǎo zi (餃子), Brandon makes a mess and he and Pó Po (婆婆) have a good laugh! They chat and bond over the experience. Then Brandon eats and eats and eats and makes a surprise at the end that delights the whole family! This story includes some conversational Mandarin Chinese (including Pinyin – pronunciation).
Age: 3 – 8 y
Asin (Amazon): B076CQJ1J2
ISBN-10: 9781478790389 – Hard Cover
ISBN-13: 978-1478790389 – Hard Cover
ISBN-10: 1478774088 – Paperback
ISBN-13: 978-1478774082 – Paperback
Social Media links:
- QUICK POP-QUIZ. (You can choose one or both, and please feel free to add a very brief comment)
Snow or sun: snow (but that could be because I live in Miami and I miss the snow, and I associate snow with vacation!)
Soccer or (ice) hockey: ice hockey
Dogs or cats: dogs (although I also love cats)
Ice-cream or fruit: ice cream
Fact or fiction: fiction
Music or silence: music
Sport or reading: reading
Sea or mountains: sea
Groundhogs or squirrels: I think both are adorable, but if I had to choose one, I guess squirrels because I have never seen a groundhog in person before! Also, my son and I love feeding the squirrels at the parks! So cute!
Books or movies: books
E-book or print: print
- Is there anything more you want to tell your readers?
I’m new to this whole writing thing. I’m still always surprised when a stranger reads my book and I’m ecstatic when someone leaves me a nice review! Thank you to everyone who has read, or will be reading, my book – I cherish you all!