Rising Stars in KidLit began as a way to highlight my fellow kidlit creators who are working their tails off to birth their beautiful book babies into the world. These interviews cast a light on the wonderful work of pre-published or pre-agented authors and author-illustrators who are destined to be stars! For the next several features, we’re collaborating with the hardworking creators of the PB Rising Stars Mentorship Program, Kailei Pew and Ebony Lynn Mudd, to highlight the wonderful and talented creators who were selected for the 2022 Mentorship Program. Learn more about the PB Rising Stars Mentorship program HERE.
Meet Rising Star
Author Jasmine Fang
Jasmine Fang is a Asian American civil servant and writer. She was born overseas, grew up in Texas and Southern California, and has worked in Washington D.C. and San Francisco in government and higher education. She led a campus-wide movement “liveKIND”, which became her life mantra. Having worked, studied, and traveled in over 30 countries, she cares about building communities, equity and inclusion, and helping others feel a deep sense of belonging. She is the SCBWI SF South New Member Coordinator. In 2022, Jasmine was selected as a PBRS mentee, SCBWI BIPOC scholarship, and Courage to Create scholarship. She currently lives in San Francisco with her wonderful husband, toddler, and maple tree.
Fun facts: she won her first writing contest in 4th grade, wrote poetry since high school (and performed spoken word), and speak 2.5 languages. Not so fun fact: she holds an MBA.
Jasmine is currently seeking agent representation.
AD: Hi Jasmine! I’m so excited to have you here to kick off this fun KidLit Rising Stars collaboration. Let’s start with your experience in the PB Rising Stars Mentorship Program. Can you tell us who your mentor is, what inspired you to apply, and how the program is going/went for you ?
JF: First off, thanks so much Amanda for interviewing me! I’m grateful to have been selected for the PBRS mentorship. My mentor is the wonderfully talented Sylvia Chen (Website, Twitter, Goodreads) and her picture book TRICKY CHOPSTICKS is slated to come out 2024. She’s helped me immensely by looking at my stories from different angles and also giving a great bird’s eye view of what’s working or not.
Of course, kudos to our PBRS creators extraordinaires, Ebony Mudd and Kailei Pew for all their work towards the program and hosting workshops alongside Jerrold Connors, Justin Colon, and Winsome Bingham. I applied to PBRS to learn more about the industry and connect with other creators. As the mentorship draws to a close, I feel more confident in my pieces and have a deeper understanding of the publishing process.
AD: So glad to hear you’re walking away more confident in both your work and with navigating the industry. Not surprising considering the all-star line up of mentors 🙂
Alright let’s do a speed round…
- Top three favorite children’s books of all time? I love books that give me ALL THE FEELS. Right now, I’m enjoying Watercress by Andrea Wang, Eyes that Kiss in the Corners by Joanna Ho, and Patchwork by Matt de la Pena.
- Coffee, tea (or neither)? Currently Ritual coffee in the AM, though I’m always down for a good rooibos, pu-er, or genmai tea.
- Where is your safe place? If I share publicly, it will no longer be safe 🙂
- Dogs, cats, (or neither)? Dogs! I had shelter dogs. And ducks, though that’s not an option.
- Early bird or night owl? Early bird (along with my toddler, but not my husband)
- Three words to describe what it takes to make it in the kidlit world… passion, persistence, patience.
AD: Okay, now down to the serious stuff….please dish us the dirt on who you are and your journey into the fabulous world of children’s books.
JF: I grew up reading picture books in Mandarin and getting lost in magical worlds. I’ve always loved reading (memoirs, biographies, poetry, rom coms, picture books) and I started writing poetry in high school for fun. Pre-pandemic, I hosted ‘article clubs’ with a close group of girlfriends and we’d discuss meaningful articles over wine. I also hosted book discussions with my agency’s AAPI affinity group. While those topics are more grown-up, I’ve always had ideas for picture books and was first inspired when a friend of mine self-published a picture book. During the pandemic and my pregnancy, I paused extracurriculars to study and write kidlit.
Aside from taking online writing classes to hone my kidlit writing craft, I joined SCBWI and Inked Voices where I met wonderful critique partners. Then there’s Twitter’s supportive kidlit community, where writing contests, mentorships, critique giveaways, and other goodies are shared. And here we are today.
AD: Did you always know you wanted to be an author? Have you explored other paths or had/have other jobs?
JF: I’ve always had ideas for children’s books, though these dreams weren’t pursued until recently. I’ve dedicated most of my career to civil service and higher education (international affairs, leadership development, advising), which has been rewarding and allowed me to see different parts of the world. You can read about my Day in the Life of a Civil Servant (in Quarantine) here. One day, I plan to write a women’s fiction novel and a poetry book. Just putting it out there!
AD: Wow! Amazing where our paths can take us. Sounds like no matter where you were or what you were doing, telling
stories was always of interest to you. Thank you for sharing the Day in the Life of a Civil Servant post. It was fascinating to read about your daily routine and even gave me a sneak peek into your narrative voice. Also, your home cooked meals looks delicious!
Speaking of sneak peeks, can you share what topics or themes do you tend to focus on in your writing? Favorite genres you like to write in?
JF: My strongest pieces are about cultural experiences, family, courage, and kindness. Most of my stories have heart with some humor. Some are #own pieces. I hope to bring forth my identities and create timeless books that kids can relate to. Recently, a friend asked me to write PB stories about my top secret clearance (expired) and all the cool bits. So maybe more of that to come.
AD: Breaking into the publishing industry is not easy! What’s been the biggest challenge you’ve faced thus far? What have you done to persevere?
JF: I haven’t broken into the publishing industry yet! As we were asked not to query during the mentorship program, I plan to start querying later in 2022. My biggest challenge right now is actually taking the plunge into querying.
AD: I would beg to differ on that 🙂 Taking the plunge to get your work out there for opportunities such as the PBRS mentorship program takes vulnerability and connecting with people in the industry to build supports and seek guidance is huge! These are all steps towards breaking into the industry and building the foundation that will give you solid ground to stand on once you officially start querying. You are doing it!! On a similar note, as creators (and humans), we tend to focus on the flaws of our creations or areas for improvement. This helps us grow and develop, but we need not forget the many things we are doing well. With this in mind, what has been your biggest accomplishment or something you are most proud of thus far on your creative journey?
JF: I’m proud of being selected for this PBRS mentorship program, SCBWI BIPOC scholarship, and Courage to Create scholarship, all which required me to submit pieces of my work. I’m also proud that my family members resonate with my stories. My dad loved two pieces. My husband (professionally published in his industry and often brings me down to earth re writing) gave a few compliments – I’ll take it.
AD: Congratulations on all these wonderful accomplishments, Jasmine. It’s clear others are recognizing the strengths and specialness of your work but what do you feel are your strengths as an author? What makes your writing unique to you?
JF: I’ve been told I have creative story ideas. For many of my stories, I take personal experiences and mold them into a digestible way so others can better understand.
AD: What inspires your work?
JF: My toddler, nature, and lived experiences.
AD: Tell us about your creative process and what you do to keep ideas flowing or what you do when feeling stuck?
JF: I read, listen to audiobooks, or go for a jog. Thankfully, we live near plenty of greenery and hiking trails. Inspiration can strike anytime– when I’m reading, on the tennis courts, or on the playground with my son.
AD: What sorts of things have been most integral in your growth?
JF: Critique partners, support from my mentor and PBRisingStars, the kidlit community, and librarians I’ve befriended.
AD: What advice do you have for fellow kidlit creatives?
JF: Plug into the writing community and make sure you have a strong support system! Self-care and prioritizing health is so, so important. I’m working full-time, raising my toddler, managing a side project, and writing. I also find setting incremental goals and living in day-tight compartments helpful. Lastly, give back if you’re able to 🙂
AD: Where can readers find out more about you and your work?