Interview with Esther Chen

Published 2015-06-24.
What's the story behind your latest book?
I am currently writing books on education and assessments, and also focusing on the "Kitti the Cat" series. I think that there are many ways to expand my writing and will now focus more on these two types of books.
How do you approach cover design?
I tend to be a minimalist and try to keep the cover plain and clear. Sometimes it is too plain and the cover ends up being a bunch of typed words on a white back ground. Now I get my friend, Joan Chen, to illustrate for me the covers, she also illustrates the pictures in my Kitti the Cat series. Her email is joan85chen@gmail.com. The cover tries to link the story to the book and gives an idea of the type of action that is expected, but I admit that sometimes the idea is abstract and it turns out to be too subtle. All in all I am experimenting and trying out new ideas and techniques to make my covers more interesting.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
My e-reading device of choice is the mobile phone because it is so convenient. Otherwise, I read through the computer as the screen is large. On days that I am in the mood to read, I can finish up to two books. When I was younger, I visited the library every other day because I needed to change my book selections but now I rarely borrow due to time constraints, so I turned to e-reading and has been happily occupied with it for the past ten years.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in Singapore and spent my time reading novels borrowed from the library. I read on a wide range of subjects, from romance to sci-fi, fantasy. I also read non-fiction, biographies, painting, cookery, history, philosophy, religion, fortune telling, etc. Basically, I like to walk in to the library without consulting the catalogue and grabbing what ever suits my fancy. Also real life experiences influence my writing, and conversations, interviews, news etc.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
Writing, painting, creating has always been a sort of catharsis for me. Becoming an author is just another way, the benefit of self publishing also allows me to share. Also I hope to bring my thoughts to life and see if people enjoy reading my stories.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
Getting reviews on my books have motivated me as it lets me know that some things that I have spent a lot of effort in has yielded results. Here I will like to thank the people who have reviewed my books, even a short sentence gives me insight as to what is enjoyable to the reader.
Also I will really like for people to review the stories that I am selling.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
When I am not writing, I spend my time gathering information, reading, doing chores, doing my main job (work). Some times I take time off to go to museums and attend plays or just dinner with my friends. Also I watch comedies and dramas, though that has decreased significantly.
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
Again I just search and sometimes I go to recently published or popular books to check for ebooks. The same type of laissez faire attitude plagues my Life unfortunately and makes things dis-organised.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
Seriously I can't. Some times I uncover some funny works that just cracks me up especially when I clean up the house and throw away old note books and papers that I kept for some reasons.
I found a time capsule with chocolates and some faked documents I made when I was really young. Pretty disgusting on the chocolate but when I looked through the written things it was super hilarious, I didn't even know what I was thinking when I wrote, "New Name, new life.", followed by my own name. Perhaps, I thought that I had a different name when I was young.
What is your writing process?
My writing process starts with an idea and sometimes when I try to write a story with it, I find that the idea dies within 100 words. So I just let them ferment in my brain and mature, if the idea is good, I will find myself incorporating it into my stories naturally. Otherwise they remain in the back burner.
My stories develop and can veer off from the main plot quite easily, so I try to help myself by reminding that there is a main plot idea and to revisit it from time to time. Not having too many extra scenes happening in the story helps as it focuses the idea and I find that it makes the reading easier too.
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