Meet Author and Painter Claudine Gueh Yanting
Claudine Gueh writes about children stumbling into the circus at night, rowing out into thrashing streams, and transforming into sea monsters, none of which has physically happened to her. She appreciates characters and stories with layers, written lyrically with a down-to-earth tone. Her favorite children’s literature authors include Karen Hesse and Sharon Creech.
Claudine’s works have been called “gloriously bittersweet,” “brilliantly creative,” and which show “the power of a child’s heart.” They have received 5-star reviews from Readers’ Favorite, and Little Orchid’s Sea Monster Trouble has also been nominated for the Global Ebook Award.
Besides writing and painting, Claudine tutors Korean and Singaporean kids, and blogs about children’s books over at her small, warm house ~ CarryUsOff Books.
Little Orchid’s Sea Monster Trouble is a middle-grade story about a girl trying to prove to her Ma that she hasn’t been spouting nonsense – that the Giant Cuttlefish really exists. Yet when she finally meets the giant face-to-face, Little Orchid isn’t brave enough to save it from being killed for dinner. That night, she finds boils all over her body, and her fingers stretched into creature-like arms. With an unexpected storm approaching, and without a proper goodbye to her family, Little Orchid must now leave home and start a new life as the Giant Cuttlefish …
I think mothers should read this. I think daughters should also read it. I hope all children who secretly think they aren’t brave enough, and those who secretly wish they are, will read this, and discover surprising things about themselves.
I’m very proud of how the story has turned out, how Little Orchid’s voice has remained authentic. And I’m proud to include the three paintings (and the cover) I’ve done for this ebook.
Thinking back to your own childhood, is there a particular author or illustrator who was a favourite? Why do you suppose that person’s work resonated with you?
My sisters and I always had an Enid Blyton book around. It was that sense of imagination and the permission to go on grand adventures and meeting kind or nasty creatures that kept us hooked. We would talk about the stories and play-pretend ~ from fantasy stories to her boarding school series. Enid Blyton played a great part in our childhood!
How do you stay connected with your readers? Have you gone on book tours? Do you engage on social media or through a website? Do you visit classrooms, libraries or bookstores?
I have a website and a blog featuring picture books, middle-grade fiction and picture-quote inspirations, so those two are my main connections with readers. Social media platforms like Pinterest, Twitter and Facebook have also been relatively effective for staying in touch with followers and welcoming potential readers. I recently wrapped up a children’s book giveaway hop and that was refreshing. As for book tours and classroom visits, I haven’t tried them.
What are the joys of being an author? What do you derive your greatest pleasure from?
The joy ~ I get to do something I truly love, and this lifetime hasn’t been wasted. The biggest joy is in telling the stories as honestly as I can and hearing how they have stirred something in readers. My greatest pleasure has, for long, been from stories (books, films and recollections from family).
If you weren’t an author, what sort of work do you envision yourself doing? Have you had other careers or do you have another career now?
Besides being a writer, I am a private tutor in Singapore. I teach English to local and Korean kids. If I weren’t any of those, I’d like to be a detective seeking justice for children. (Yea, I’m a bit of a crime show-fan.)
Does music play a part in your writing/illustrating? If so, what sort of music do you connect with your work?
Oh yes, I love having a bit of music around when I write or paint. It’s either contemporary piano pieces or acoustic folk music.