Heidi Shamsuddin worked as a lawyer in UK and ran a cafe in Malaysia in a previous life. She won the first prize of the Eye Level Children’s Literature Competition (Regional level) with her short story “Johan the Bee Hunter” in 2012. She began writing The Door Under the Stairs chapter book series in 2013. Heidi loves traveling, hiking, taking pictures, cooking and meeting people. She lives in Selangor with her husband, three kids and two cats.
1. What makes you laugh?
Silly situations in books and movies, funny words like 'iron' and 'picnic', and our kitten Atticus who likes to leap all over the place like a rabbit.
2. Why do you like children's books?
Children's books have the best, most outrageously funny stories and characters.
3. What is your favourite food?
Durian. No! I'm joking! have lots of favourite foods, but at the moment I am crazy about Mango Sticky Rice.
4. Draw or doodle a self portrait.
Sure, but I have to warn you that I'm not a great drawer of things.
5. What inspires you?
What inspires me? Everything - family, friends, people who annoy me, places I've travelled to, things I've read and random conversations.
1. What inspires you?
As far as I can remember, I have always loved looking at pictures and making one. My father loves art and my mother is the creative one. My sisters helped shape my interest in children’s books. But as time went by, I fell in love with children’s picture book. They look simple yet there is a great deal of thought and effort that goes into making one. We need more picture books which children enjoy, get inspired with, are heartfelt and also thought provoking. I am inspired to create more of such. There are so many children books that I find inspiring but Dr. Seuss books often touch me deeply.
2. What is your favourite story and why?
Some of my favourite children’s books are the ones written by Enid Blyton especially the Faraway Tree stories. I also love reading folk stories from Malaysia and around the world. Some of my favourite books include the Cerita Cerita Rakyat collections which my sisters often borrowed from the National Library Malaysia back when it was located at Wisma Sachdev. There were also books on similar stories published by Dewan Bahasa & Pustaka which I kept (and read!) until today. What attracted me most about these stories are the richness of what is beyond our known little world and how exciting the mind is when opened up to infinite possibilities!
3. Draw or doodle your own self portrait.
4. What country would you like to visit and why?
I am fortunate to have been able to visit a number of countries so I do not have any in particular at the moment. However, I would love to take some time to explore more of what Malaysia has got to offer!
5. Why do you think children should read?
My favourite author-illustrator, Eric Carle once said that picture books are an introduction to literature for the very young reader. I hope to be able to encourage children to see how wonderful it is to be surrounded and touched by books. Books are rich in many ways and reading them will inspire children, encourage them to think creatively and critically and perhaps offer companionship during difficult times.
1. What is the best day of your life?
I don’t know, it’s just great to be alive!
2. Why do you like writing children’s books?
Well, they are fun to write. You can let your imagination run wild. You are not constrained by facts. For instance, I have written a series about a young stegosaurus (dinosaur) and a young elephant who meet in the forbidden forest when they are hiding from T-Rex. The dinosaurs died out 60 million years before the first elephant appeared on earth. But that doesn't matter to a six year old.
3. What are your top 3 tips on writing stories for children?
You can dream up an idea or see something that sparks an idea and then just let you imagination run wild. Let your characters take you where they want to go. This is what I do and in the end I often have enough material for more than one book which is great because children love series. They love spending their time with their favourite characters. With this in mind I develop my characters and engage them in more and more adventures. But there is one important thing to remember. Children are very observant and they need their characters to be realistic and consistent. As you develop your series your characters will change as you grow to know them better. It is very important, therefore, that at the end of writing your series you go back through the earlier books to make sure your characters are realistic in a child’s mind.
4. Tell us something about yourself that no one knows.
5. What do you do when you are not writing children's books?
Life is great when I have a new idea for a children’s book and I can let my thoughts rip. But you can’t write all the time and I enjoy reading historical novels and scientific facts about rare animals and creatures that have long since disappeared like dinosaurs.
2. What makes you laugh?
Fun chat with friends and family.
3. Who is your favourite author/ illustrator and why?
I like the simple creative ideas of Oliver Jeffers and Emily Gravett, meticulous sketches of Shaun Tan, intriguing illustrations of Mattias Adolfsson, Jill Barklem for gorgeous details, Lat for bringing culture smoothly into comics.
4. Why do you like children’s books?
I love reading the pictures on children's books.
5. Draw or doodle of yourself doing something you enjoy.
OK. Here I am having tea with 2 characters I made, The Turtle and The Silly Monkey.
Fengyi Lai was born in Malacca. She graduated from The One Academy, majoring in Graphic Design and Illustration. She received her Bachelor of Arts from the University of Hertforshire in 2013. Fengyi is passionate about illustrating children’s book and enjoys using different mediums. Her passion for design is linked to her desire to inspire people everyday with her art.
3. Draw or doodle your favourite animal.
4. What is the best day of your life?
I have many best days in my life. But if I can only pick one, then it'll be the day when my parents agreed to let me further my studies in Art and Design and then later on majoring in Illustration. I was a science stream students, so it was tough for them. Haha!
5. Who is your favourite author/illustrator and why?
I love Eric Carle's book, I love the way how he plays with textures and bold colors. And also local illustrator, Lim Heng Swee's earlier works (寻找遗失的乐园 and 美丽人生).