First saw Grace Chong in person in last years Manila International Book Fair and recently I read her children’s book. Her books truly hits not just the heart of a child but to others who are kids at heart. No wonder she received awards and recognition for her craft. But most importantly, she delivers God’s grace in books she wrote. In celebration of National Children’s Book Day, Delighting Grace brings you Ms. Grace as she talks about her books, crafting a good story, and many more:
Delighting Grace: Ms. Grace what makes a good story kids will love? You do have a knack for kids.
Grace Chong: Any story that is within the realm of the kids’ experience and imagination, if presented in a unique, fresh, and fun way in their language, can be appreciated by the readers.
Delighting Grace: How did you start writing books for children?
Grace Chong: My mother wrote in my Baby Book that I started writing stories when I was five. Maybe as early as then I already had the passion to write stories. But I took my first-ever win in the Palanca Awards 1999 (The Boy Who Had five Lolas, first prize) as an affirmation of the new direction I wanted to take after leaving the workplace–to pursue my love for writing.
Delighting Grace: Your children’s book is every entertaining. How do you get inspirations for your stories? I’m impress that some are really enjoyable and full of actions.
Grace Chong: I can get inspired by everything, everyone, and anything that I see around me. That may seem to be a cop-out, but that is how it is. I am touched by every little act of kindness, or unkindness, and I see gems in mundane things. These I translate into stories that readers can identify with.
Delighting Grace: One book or books worth mentioning is your Oh Mateo! series. Who is Mateo in your life? You gave him a series and I thought hey this must boy must have a special part in Ms. Grace’s life?
Grace Chong: Mateo is the name of my dad, my brother (Mateo Jr.), and my nephew (Mateo III). When I created the character, I was looking for a Filipino name and I didn’t need to look far. In my family, I learned great life lessons from my dad, rib-tickling humor from my brother, and thrilling adventures from my nephew. Each had been a rich resource of ideas for the series.
Delighting Grace: Wow thats great. Any book you wrote that is near to your heart?
Grace Chong: Every single one of my books (37 for children and 12 for adults as of this date) is close to my heart. My favorite is usually what I am currently writing, till the next one comes along.
Delighting Grace: You have other books that are not childrens book. But your are known for your children’s book. How do you want to be remembered in terms of being an author?
Grace Chong: I like to think I am not typecast as a writer for only one genre. The readers of my books for adults are often surprised that I write children’s books. Likewise, the readers of my children’s books react the same way about my books for adults.
My writing is not about me–it’s about giving honor to the Author of life, the Source of my ideas and words.
Each book is written for a particular audience, not for being remembered as an author. I write about Christian values and God’s grace or I don’t write at all. And I pray that readers (adults or children) remember God’s message and appreciate the grace they received through the book.
Delighting Grace: Does it give you a lot of pressure in writing when you receive an award for your work?
Grace Chong: Not pressure, no, but resolve to keep writing.
Delighting Grace: How do we cultivate our love for children specially for us who want them to know the gospel?
Grace Chong: Matthew 19:14 (NASB) always enthralls me, “But Jesus said, ‘Let the children alone, and do not hinder them from coming to Me; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.'”
Our Lord and Savior loves children and to them His kingdom belongs! How can we ignore them, how can we not love them just as much? We need to let every child know this truth.
Delighting Grace: Any advice to budding writers who want to try writing children’s book?
Grace Chong: Please read as many children’s books by other authors as you can. Immerse yourself in the world of children–study how they act, react, talk, walk, laugh, think, cry, play, or even throw temper tantrums. In short, know your young reader inside out. And keep the child in you alive.
Here is the link to my blog on creative writing:
Delighting Grace: Thank you for your time Ms. Grace. Kindly invite our readers to check our you books and your blog.
Grace Chong: If you are looking for books that speak to you about God’s amazing grace, please visit:
My blog — leavesofgrace.blogspot.com or omflit.com.
Delighting Grace: Yes children’s books not just written by Ms. Grace but with God’s amazing grace. Thank you Grace Chong. God bless you!