Conferences & Workshops

Writers & Illustrators Conference

One Big Story

Date: 28 – 29 May 2013
For: Writers, illustrators, publishers, librarians, literary agents, distributors and retailers, translators, teachers, and other professionals related to children’s content.
Illustration by Emila Yusof, illustrator, Malaysia

Over the course of the two-day conference, writers and illustrators come together with publishers, editors, literary agents, and other industry professionals in celebration of children’s content from Asia and around the world. This year’s conference will have an added emphasis on Young Adult literature and children’s works in translation.

Illustration by Emila Yusof, illustrator, Malaysia

Day 1

8.15am – 9.15am
9:15am – 10:00am
Reaching for the World: The Art of Asian Illustrators in Children’s Books

Naomi Kojima (Author, Illustrator)
Moderator: Anushka Ravishankar (Author and Principal Platypus, Duckbill Books)

What are the qualities that make a picture book loved, read over and over, and even travel across the world? Renowned author and illustrator Naomi Kojima examines this question with visual examples from picture books illustrated by Asian illustrators.

Novels Set in Asia: Selling Them Overseas

Holly Thompson (Author, Teacher)
Moderator: R Ramachandran (Executive Director, NBDCS)

Novels set in Asia face certain challenges when marketed abroad in non-Asian cultures. What can we do to give our Asia-based stories their best chances of success overseas? Author Holly Thompson, winner of the APALA Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature, will examine the challenges and offer ideas for solutions.

10.00am – 10.15am
10:15am – 11:15am
Young Professionals’ Journeys

Nicholas Mark (Author), James Foley (Illustrator, Author), Cinthia Koeksal (Author)
Moderator: Andrea Pasion-Flores (General Manager, Anvil Philippines)

Where has the path to publication led these young professionals? Find out in this panel discussion about the challenges they’ve weathered, the successes they’ve met, and the futures they foresee for themselves.

Download handout -- Cinthia Koeksal

Download handout -- Nicholas Mark

Writing to Make a Better World

Susanne Gervay (Author)
Moderator: Christopher Cheng (Author)

Effective youth literature can create a safe yet exciting place for young people to work out issues, and seek insights into relationships and their place in the world. Join Susanne Gervay as she demonstrates how picture books and children’s literature open positive pathways for readers to think and talk about social issues such as disability, immigration, and bullying.

Download handout -- Susanne Gervay

Malaysia Focus:
Adapting Asian Folklore for Children’s and YA Literature

Tutu Dutta-Yean (Author, Illustrator)
Moderator: John McKenzie (Educator)

Malaysian author Tutu Dutta-Yean examines how folktales have been incorporated as an integral part of the plot in certain children’s and YA books and also on the influence of Asian folklore in a number of celebrated YA books.

Asian American Authors and Their Impact on Asia

Ruthanne Lum McCunn (Author), Paul Yee (Author)
Moderator: Lisa Yun (Educator)

This session about Asian diasporic experience in North America will include interviews with authors and a discussion of the rich history of Asian migration to an area that has the largest and most diverse Asian diasporic presence outside of Asia. This discussion focuses especially on books and reading for children and youth and how books written by the diaspora would be relevant to the rest of Asia.

11.15am – 11.45am
11:45am – 12:45pm
Crossing Over: Writing for Both Children and Teens

Reenita Malhotra Hora (Author, Broadcast Journalist, Ayurveda Clinician ), Adeline Foo (Author)
Moderator: Shamini Flint ()

Writing for children and writing for teens may look alike at first glance, but both need a different touch. What may hit the mark for a teen audience may fly way over the head of a child, and a joke that appeals to younger kids may not elicit the reaction you want from a teen. Join authors Adeline Foo and Reenita Malhotra Hora as they discuss the difference between writing for the child and the teen reader.

Transforming Facts into Riveting Reading

Christopher Cheng (Author), Shirin Yim Bridges (Head Goose – Author, Editor, Publisher, Goosebottom Books, Gosling Press), Mio Debnam (Author, Editor)
Moderator: Corinne Robson (Reviewer, Blogger)

While fiction looks like it has a flashier bag of tricks for enticing readers, there’s a knack to writing non-fiction that can lure kids into enjoying what could otherwise be a dry and dull read. Authors Chris Cheng, Mio Debnam and Shirin Yim Bridges come together to talk about how they turn dry fact into happy reading in this panel discussion.

Download handout -- Shirin Yim Bridges

Download handout -- Mio Debnam

Japanese Perspectives – The Kamishibai Way | My Journey as a Writer

Akiko Sueyoshi (Author), Etsuko Nozaka (Author, Translator)
Moderator: Avery Fischer Udagawa (Translator)

Stories and Illustration – The Kamishibai Way
Etsuko Nozaka demonstrates in this session how she chooses good stories for kamishibai, and how illustrators make pictures specially fit for kamishibai.

Download handout -- pg 1
Download handout -- pg 2
Download handout -- pg 3

My Journey as a Writer
Award-winning author Akiko Sueyoshi presents her journey to become a writer, with examples from her children’s books, and why she continues to write for children.

Download handout

Malaysia Focus:
Branding and Marketing: The Pink Branding

Ain Maisarah (Author)
Moderator: John McKenzie (Educator)

Known for developing her own celebrity branding as The Pink Branding, Ain Maisarah will expose the secret to maximising media platforms such as novels, the Internet, social media, and ground events in order to build your brand as a writer.

12.45pm – 1.45pm
1:45pm – 2:30pm
Malaysia Focus:
Marketing Your Book And Selling Rights – How A Literary Agent Can Help You

Linda Tan Lingard (Literary Agent, Publisher)
Moderator: Meg McKinlay ()

A literary agent plays a number of roles. In this talk, literary agent Linda Tan Lingard will talk about ways you can market your book and sell the rights to your books internationally. She will provide resources that you can tap into and give insider views from her experience in the book industry including basic contractual agreements and what publishers look for.

Nim’s Island – From Book to Blockbuster

Wendy Orr (Author)
Moderator: Dianne Wolfer ()

‘Film adaptation’ – a phrase that's graced the dreams of many a writer, but how well does it bear up in the cold light of reality? Author of the Nim’s Island books, Wendy Orr, is here with answers as she discusses the role she played in the making of the very successful film of Nim’s Island, the new sequel Return to Nim's Island, and how the adaptations compare to The Nim's Stories.

Download handout -- 1
Download handout -- 2
Download handout -- 3

Conversation with Renee Ting:
The Current State and Future Possibilities of Asian-Themed Publishing in the US

Renee Ting (Publisher)
Moderator: Marjorie Coughlan (Reviewer)

Join Shen’s Books publisher Renee Ting as she talks about the current state of publishing in the USA, what kind of a market currently exists for Asian books, and what she foresees for the future. Find out if your books can be sold in the USA!

Download handout

Asian Trickster Tales and their Educational Value

John McKenzie (Educator)
Moderator: Norman Jorgensen (Author)

The trickster tale is found across most cultures. In this session we will explore two trickster tales and note common elements. Are these tales potentially damaging for children's moral education for suggesting that lying, cheating and thievery are good things that are necessary for survival? Come to this session and be prepared for a debate!

2.30pm – 2.45pm
2:45pm – 3:45pm
Bridging Two Worlds: Bilingual Publishing

Coonoor Kripalani (Author)
Moderator: Malavika PC (Writer, Illustrator (மாளவிகா (எழுத்தாளர், படங்கள் வரைபவர்) )

Why bilingual publishing? Join author Coonoor Kripalani as she explains how reading in two languages forms a stepping stone towards a broader understanding of cultures and a means to cross boundaries.

The Art of a Picture Book – Presentation and Discussion

Patrick Yee (Illustrator), Julia Kaergel (Illustrator), Samantha Hughes (Illustrator)
Moderator: James Foley (Illustrator, Author)

Join illustrators Julia Kaergel, Patrick Yee, and Samantha Hughes as they display their published artwork in this presentation, where they will discuss why they decided to draw for children and what influences have shaped and continue to shape their art.

Download handout

Publishing and Distribution in Asia – Trends and Possibilities

Sophie Dewayani (Researcher, Author), Eva Nukman (Author, Translator), Ary Nilandari (Author), Edmund Wee (Publisher, Epigram Books), Amir Shariff (Senior Program Officer, The Asia Foundation), Poh Swee Hiang (Senior Publishing Manager, Pelangi Publishing Group)
Moderator: Chua Hong Koon ()

Asian children’s publishing can be something of a tough nut to crack, but these publishing insiders from Singapore, Indonesia, and Malaysia are ready to unveil some of its secrets. Join our panellists as they discuss the current trends of Asian children’s publishing, the challenges and the possibilities.

First Look – Illustration Critique

Naomi Kojima (Author, Illustrator), Shirin Yim Bridges (Head Goose – Author, Editor, Publisher, Goosebottom Books, Gosling Press), Yusof Gajah (Artist, Author & Illustrator, Storyteller)
Moderator: Mio Debnam (Author, Editor)

Illustrators are invited to submit six illustrations from an unpublished project to be reviewed by a panel of international publishing experts before an audience.

3.45pm – 4.15pm
4.15pm – 5:15pm
Conceptualising and Writing Books for Series

Anu Kumar (Author), Eliza Teoh (Author)
Moderator: Sharon Ismail ()

How do you turn an idea for a book into an idea for a book series? Join Eliza Teoh as she discusses what makes a good series and pinpoint what pitfalls to avoid when writing a series of children’s novels.

The World at Your Fingertips: The Art of Book Acquisitions

Leo Vincent (Director, Advance Library Services Pte Ltd), Panna Kantilal (Librarian)

Libraries are repositories of knowledge, making librarians all-powerful gatekeepers who choose what books will be added to that collection of knowledge. When acquiring books, what does a librarian, a library supplier and a bookseller has in common. What decides which books are chosen? Find out all this and more in this discussion panel so that you know what sells.

Tweeting and Blogging as Authors

Vivian Kirkfield (Blogger, Educator, Author), Candy Gourlay (Author)
Moderator: Stephanie Su (Blogger, Reviewer)

With the rise of social media, authors are able to reach out to their audience and build a following with an immediacy that has never been seen before. But how do you start with that? Fear not, for blogger authors Candy Gourlay and Vivian Kirkfield are here to help you with that. Pick up tips on how to use Twitter effectively and learn what you could be blogging about to keep your followers interested in what you’re writing.

Malaysia Focus:
The Business of Digital Content for Kids

Azree Hanifiah (), Nadira Mohd Yusoff (CEO, Nadi Ayu Technologies)
Moderator: Chua Hong Koon ()

What do kids want out of digital content and where do books fit into that? Azree Hanifiah and Nadira Mohd Yusoff discuss how animation, illustration, pricing, and platform can affect the appeal of quality ebooks that give kids control over the narrative and encourage exploration.

5.15pm – 5.30pm
5:30pm – 6:30pm
Asian Themes in Children’s Books

Marjorie Coughlan (Reviewer), Anushka Ravishankar (Author and Principal Platypus, Duckbill Books)
Moderator: Lisa Yun (Educator)

Will including Asian themes alienate your audience? Why bother, if that’s the case? Join this panel of Asian creators as they discuss the use and application of Asian themes and motifs in children’s books.

Outspoken – Writing for Youth in a Curriculum-Driven Market

Michael Salinger (Author, Poet), Sara Holbrook (Author, Poet)
Moderator: Dianne Wolfer ()

You wouldn’t ask a pediatrician when they are going to graduate and treat adults would you? Award winning authors Sara Holbrook and Michael Salinger discuss writing for youth in today’s curriculum driven market. How can you align your work so that it is seen as a needed tool rather than an add on when all the real work is done?

Children, Speak Up! (panel of children aged 9-12)

Älvi Lindborg (), Caleb Loh (), Erik Weibel (), Kho Chen Kai (), Madilyn Graham (), Malavika Romel (), Sherman Akarsh Adithya (), Sophie Graham (), Vaishnavi Sanjay ()
Moderator: Myra Garces-Bacsal (Educator, Reviewer, Blogger)

Too often, children’s voices are not heard when it comes to ‘adult conferences’ that debate what appeals to a young audience. This panel explores literature for children by children themselves, aged eight to twelve years old. The panel consists of teacher-nominated, avid young readers who are part of a book club, Gathering Readers. These Singapore-based children will talk about books that moved and engaged their sensibilities, providing helpful tips and pointers about what moves them to pick up a book.

A quick preview on YouTube from the kids! 

Survival and Success as a Singaporean Author

Emily Lim (Author), Ho Lee Ling (Author), Eliza Teoh (Author)
Moderator: Shamini Flint ()

Singapore’s literary environment can be tough on its authors and tougher still on its children’s authors. Learn how authors Eliza Teoh, Ho Lee Ling, and Emily Lim have tested and found success in the literary field of children’s writing.

Day 2

8.15am – 9.15am
9:15am - 10:00am
Malaysia Focus:
My Life, My Art

Yusof Gajah (Artist, Author & Illustrator, Storyteller)
Moderator: Peter Duke ()

Illustrator Yusof Gajah, so named for his trademark elephant illustrations, tells the story of his experiences in his journey as a published illustrator, expounding on his books and the influences in his life that affected the evolution of his art style.

10.00am – 10.15am
10:15am – 11:15am
Sequential Art for Graphic Novels

Wolfgang Bylsma (Publisher), Paolo Chikiamco (Author, Reviewer), Sonny Liew (Comic Artist)

Join publisher Wolfgang Bylsma, illustrator Sonny Liew, and writer Paolo Chikiamco as they discuss the art of the graphic novel and what distinguishes the good from the bad in this medium and how storytelling in comics is unique in children’s literature.

Download handout

Malaysia Focus:
Celebrating Diversity Through Multicultural Children’s Literature

Ahmad Redza Ahmad Khairuddin (President, International Board of Books for Young People (IBBY))
Moderator: Sharon Flindell ()

Literature serves as a powerful vehicle for helping children understand themselves, their communities and the world. This session with IBBY President Ahmad Redza Ahmad Khairuddin surveys selected books from around the world to motivate and inspire local writers and publishers to produce good multicultural children's books which promote a realistic glimpse into the lives of diverse groups of people.

11.15am – 11.45am
11:45am – 12:45pm
Laugh Out Loud: Humour in Children’s Literature

Norman Jorgensen (Author), Christopher Cheng (Author)
Moderator: Kannan Chandran ()

They say that to write humour is more difficult than writing drama, but few things engage a reader more effectively than tickling the funny bone! Authors Norman Jorgensen and Chris Cheng in this session will talk about the importance of keeping readers interested through humour and how they go about doing this.

First Pages – Writing Critique

Vatsala Kaul Banerjee (Editor), Renee Ting (Publisher)
Moderator: Kathleen Ahrens (Author)

Writers are invited to submit the first page of an unpublished manuscript to be read aloud and commented upon by a panel of international publishing experts before an audience.

12.45pm – 1.45pm
1:45pm - 2:30pm
Child’s Play – Editing Children’s Books

Vatsala Kaul Banerjee (Editor)
Moderator: Catherine Carvell ()

Join editor Vatsala Kaul Banerjee as she addresses why editors are important to the publishing process, what children’s authors can keep in mind when writing, and how she edits children’s books, polishing manuscripts with potential into books that young readers will love and treasure.

Splash! Asia session: Water Themed Books in the Asian Setting

Evelyn Wong (), Myra Garces-Bacsal (Educator, Reviewer, Blogger)
Moderator: Corinne Robson (Reviewer, Blogger)

In celebration of the UN International Year of Water, AFCC 2013 presents this session on the use of water in Asian books. Join Evelyn Wong and Myra Garces Bacsal as they showcase the diversity and talent in Asian children’s literature on the theme of water.

2.30pm – 2.45pm
2:45pm – 3:45pm
Style and Approach in Children’s Illustration

Julia Kaergel (Illustrator), Chris Nixon (Illustrator), Samantha Hughes (Illustrator)
Moderator: James Foley (Illustrator, Author)

What makes a good picture book illustration, and what makes a good children’s illustration? Illustrators Chris Nixon and Julia Kaergel will take you through presentations of how they integrate their pictures with the story and how their illustration styles appeal to children.

Download handout

The Future of Publishing in Digital Space

Shirin Yim Bridges (Head Goose – Author, Editor, Publisher, Goosebottom Books, Gosling Press), Wolfgang Bylsma (Publisher), Renee Ting (Publisher)
Moderator: Tan Chin Kar ()

The rise of the Kindle and other ebook readers and apps have pulled and pushed the publishing industry firmly into the digital era. Find out, in this panel discussion, what publishers think graphic novels, picture books, and other children’s publishing can look forward to in the future where digital world would reign supreme.

Download handout

3.45pm – 4.15pm
4.15pm – 5:15pm
Asian Illustrators Panel: Injecting Asian Flavour into Your Work

Patrick Yee (Illustrator), Stephanie Wong (Illustrator), Jade Fang (Illustrator)
Moderator: Naomi Kojima (Author, Illustrator)

Join homegrown illustrators Patrick Yee, Stephanie Wong, and Jade Fang as they discuss how Asian elements impact their work and how such elements enrich and enhance their art.

Malaysia Focus:
Creating Malaysian Digital Content for the World

Abdullah Sani Alwi (Head, Mobile Content, Apps & New Media, Multimedia Development Corporation (MDeC), Malaysia), Nadira Mohd Yusoff (CEO, Nadi Ayu Technologies)
Moderator: Christopher Cheng (Author)

Join our panel of Malaysian experts in this session as they discuss how Malaysian content has grown and how it can be used to benefit the world.

5:30pm – 6:30pm
Writer/Illustrator: Working together – Pleasure or Pain

James Foley (Illustrator, Author), Norman Jorgensen (Author), Ken Spillman (Author), Chris Nixon (Illustrator)
Moderator: Ken Spillman (Author)

What’s it really like to work together? In this panel, picture book illustrators James Foley and Chris Nixon together with picture book authors Norman Jorgensen and Ken Spillman share their experiences and unveil the truth of collaborative creation.

Grabbing Your Reader’s Attention: Lights! Conflict! Action! | The Hero’s Journey

Kathleen Ahrens (Author), Candy Gourlay (Author)
Moderator: Jonathan Dorf (Playwright)

Lights! Conflict! Action!
Kathleen Ahrens discusses the importance of writing conflict into your plot, as a tool for getting and keeping the readers attention.

The Hero's Journey
Candy Gourlay discusses the journey of the hero in the story, and how that can be used to appeal to young readers.