I am lucky today. I get to interview the amazing Sylvia Liu today! I’ve known Sylvia for some time now and am so excited to get her new book Hana Hsu and the Ghost Crab Nation. I just preordered it (check out the pre-order swag at the bottom of this post! Sylvia is a co-founder of Kidlit 411 an excellent resource for children’s writers and illustrators!
Besides being a writer Sylvia also is an amazing artist. She creates such beautiful and fun illustrations. She had art in the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art New Waves 2012 exhibit; and art and infographics in Huffington Post, Oceana, and World Wildlife Fund! Sylvia is represented by the great Jennifer March Soloway at Andrea Brown Literary Agency!
Dani: Is it easier or harder for you to write a novel than a picture book and does the genre affect the difficulty?
Sylvia: Picture books and novels are very different beasts, but both are hard in their own ways! Writing picture books is like writing a poem, where every word matters, plus you also have to have great characters and a story, all in a few hundred words.
Writing novels is like putting together a complex 3D puzzle with moving parts. For me, genre doesn’t affect the difficulty as much as the theme, plot, and audience. For example, my middle grade contemporary, Manatee’s Best Friend, has a more straightforward plot and is geared for the middle of middle grade, while my sci-fi, Hana Hsu and the Ghost Crab Nation, has a twisty plot and is geared to upper middle grade. For those reasons, Hana Hsu was more difficult to write.
Dani: Do you have any fun rituals around writing?
Sylvia: I’m a very visual person, so when I plot my books, I like to draw graphs and put sticky notes on a poster board. This is my plot chart for Hana Hsu and the Ghost Crab Nation (don’t look too closely, or you might see some spoilers!). I listed all the chapters/main scenes on outside of the arc and included themes or internal character arcs on the inside.
Dani: What inspired you to write Hana Hsu and the Ghost Crab Nation?
Sylvia: I love science fiction in all media, and the cyberpunk subgenre in particular, so when I started writing middle grade, that was the type of story I was drawn to. The idea of a girl finding out about a corporate conspiracy against her classmates whose brains are about to be connected to the multiweb, came from reading about companies like Cambridge Analytica using people’s online data to manipulate us.
Dani: What kind of research did you have to do for this story, or was most of it based on already learned experiences and ideas?
Sylvia: After I came up with the premise, I did some research about the science of connecting brains to the Internet and came across some studies on mice. It wasn’t until after my story was under contract that the news about a certain billionaire’s efforts to do the same came to light. As I built the world, I would find cool research that supported my ideas (like bioluminescent trees). I also consulted with my sister to understand genetic editing.
Dani: What’s next for you?
Sylvia: I’m working on a Chinese myth-based fantasy that I’m excited about!
Hana Hsu and the Ghost Crab Nation Pre-order Campaign
Sylvia Liu has a preorder a campaign going on right now. Get the awesome swag in the image above!
BONUS: 20 lucky pre-orders will get a stunning 10×8 inch fine art print by Kathryn Ault Noble. You must submit proof of purchase (or proof of library purchase request) to be eligible for this gift.
Get a Signed Book: https://bit.ly/HanaPBks and get swag plus a signed book!
Pre-order Campaign: http://www.enjoyingplanetearth.com/pre-order-campaign.html (go here to get your swag after buying the book!)
Order from the Publisher or Anywhere Else Here: https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/669649/hana-hsu-and-the-ghost-crab-nation-by-sylvia-liu/ (You’ll get a book plate with the swag!)