Rich Lo is the author and illustrator of the new children's picture book New Year, which focuses on a young boy who arrives in Los Angeles from Hong Kong. He also wrote and illustrated Father's Chinese Opera. He was born in Canton, China, and lives in Chicago.
Q: How did you come up with the idea for New Year, and for your main character?
A: The writing was inspired by my childhood memories. Growing up as a Chinese immigrant child, I had many vignettes to draw from. The story is fictional, but the main character, unnamed, is me.
Q: When you write and illustrate a book, do you work on the text and illustrations simultaneously, or do you focus on one and then the other?
A: I start by writing the story. I send the manuscript to my literary agent, Anna Olswanger, for review and edits. Then I lay out the text with rough sketches for page count and the flow of the story. I made final sketches and color illustrations for the cover and 3 spreads.
Anna and I made a final review before she sends it out to the editors of the publishing houses. The story was picked by Sky Pony Press in New York, who also published my first book, Father's Chinese Opera.
Q: What do you hope readers take away from the story?
A: I hope my story gives the readers a glimpse of what it is like to grow up as an immigrant and also help them learn about the diversity that makes up our country.
Q: What are you working on now?
A: I am working on a series of board books that have elements from the Chinese culture.
Q: Anything else we should know?
A: The choice to write cultural books allows me to share the Chinese culture and my childhood experiences with young readers. It has also enriched and expanded my artistic life.
My work can be seen at www.artclickercreative.com, greatsketch.com, artclicker.com, and www.richlospeaks.com.
--Interview with Deborah Kalb