This is part of the “Little Lit Author’s First…” series. I will kickstart this series with one of Singapore’s first authors of children’s literature.
David Seow is brave, very brave. He plunged into an almost non-existent industry and has worked as a full-time children’s author for the past 14 years. He persevered and with over 20 well-received titles published, has proven himself worthy to be called a pioneer in the Singaporean children’s literature scene.
In this interview, David Seow, an award-nominated children’s book author, tells us which books are his favourites out of the 20 he has penned, and talks about his setbacks and victories, and his thoughts on the children’s publishing scene and what the future holds for him.
David Seow ~ Something about yourself that people do not know~
I usually assume a different persona from my real self because I only show my real self to the few friends whom I trust completely.
Loves ~ Something that you enjoy besides writing for children ~
I love meeting stars, celebrities and VIPs. So far, I’ve met Prince Albert of Monaco, Hillary Clinton, Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark, Ali Larter of ‘Heroes’, Kris Allen of ‘American Idol’ and Jason Mraz.
Little Lit ~ Your three  favourite books that you have penned ~
Emma’s Elephant is also another favourite book of mine. It was written with conservation in mind. I have to say that I love the Typset for the title. It’s very imaginative!
~ DAVID SEOW’S THOUGHTS ABOUT THE PAST ~
Linn Shekinah: You started writing at a time where there were very few children’s writers and writing events. How did you learn the ropes about the publishing industry then? How did you hone your craft? How did you stay connected with other writers?
David Seow: I started writing books when I used to babysit my niece and nephews who were all under the age of six. My youngest nephew came along a year after I started writing. There were very few stories about children set in Singapore at the time. I didn’t expect to have the stories published. I just wrote the stories to entertain the kids.
But when a publisher offered me a contract. I had to learn the ropes the hard way, by trial and error. I hardly knew what I was doing. It was quite a lonely experience as I did not have any networking opportunities and I basically just kept to myself. I wish I had known about the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators back then.
Linn Shekinah: What keeps you going after all these years?
David Seow: Well, after all this time it’s the only thing I seem to do relatively well. Boy, do I sound sad and pathetic!
Linn Shekinah: You said it is hard to get published but it is even harder after you get published. Why is that so? So how do you overcome the challenges in your writing career?
David Seow: A lot of aspiring authors seem to think the goal is getting published. Getting published is part of the journey, not the destination.
Once your book is out there, it has to compete with other books in the genre for space on the bookstore shelves, in newspaper and magazine reviews and most importantly for the attention of your specified audience. It’s a constant uphill battle. The only way to get any recognition is to write more books, but then again it’s a struggle to get those books into the stores as well. For the most part, it feels like a Sisyphean task.
As an author you can never overcome the challenges, but you have to learn to live with them. It’s tough but I’m grateful that I have a handful of great friends and a very supportive family who put up with me and that’s not easy.