Meet Ashling Kwok
Ashling Kwok writes books that are sometimes funny, sometimes sensitive, but always straight from the heart. She has published several books with Little Pink Dog Books, Yellow Brick Books and EK Books. Join us for this interview as Ashling chats about her book, Butterfly Girl illustrated by Arielle Li.
Andrew: Hi Ashling, thanks for coming on the blog. Can you tell us a bit about yourself? And include something about you that not many people know.
Ashling: Hey Andrew, thanks so much for having me. I’m delighted to be here!
I live in a leafy green suburb in Sydney with my husband, two gorgeous kiddies and two very cheeky border collies. I work as a communications specialist for a medical company during the day, and fit my creative writing in around that. Life is hectic and crazy, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’m grateful for all the gifts that have come my way.
Something that many people may not know? Gosh, where do I start? I’m a terrible sleeper, a very average cook, I have no sense of direction, I can’t ski to save my life … the list goes on! But hopefully I’m an okay writer and the books I write bring happiness to the lives of readers.
Butterfly Girl by Ashling Kwok and Arielle Li
Andrew: I’m certain your books are bringing happiness all over the place. Let’s talk about your new book, Butterfly Girl. How long did Butterfly Girl take from when the idea popped into your head until publication?
Ashling: About two and a half years in total. The idea for this book came to me during Covid when I saw an image of a child in lockdown standing on balcony in a dark, gloomy, colourless, empty city. I started to wonder how children without any colour in their lives made it through the day and how they managed to hold onto hope – and the idea for Butterfly Girl was born.
I knew what I wanted to do with the story but I had trouble with the setting and some of the logistics and practicalities of the story. After spending a year reworking it over and over again, I finally nailed it and submitted it to EK Books. From submission to publication, it took about 18 months which seems to be the standard time frame for most picture books.
Andrew: Something that most children will have to deal with as they grow, is moving from one place to another. They may leave behind family and friends and have to start fresh. How does Butterfly Girl equip children who might be facing such a situation?
Ashling: I hope Butterfly Girl brings children comfort by showing them that although moving away from loved ones is really tough, they can build a new life and make new friends if they hold onto hope. Often the things that terrify us turn out to be the most wonderful experiences. We just have to believe that everything will work out in the end.
Butterfly Girl Illustrated by Arielle Li
Andrew: Butterfly Girl was illustrated by Arielle Li. I remember chatting with you at the Anchored (By Debra Tidball and Arielle Li) book launch and you were excited that Arielle was working on your next book. Now here it is and Arielle has delivered beautiful, soft and emotive illustrations. Do you have a favourite spread? If so, why is it so impactful for you?
Ashling: Now that’s a tough question! I absolutely adore every page in this book. Arielle is amazing and managed to design the book of my dreams. I’ve just flicked through the book again trying to decide on my favourite spread but I can’t because I love them all too much. Each illustration tells a story of its own. They take my breath away. Arielle is amazing and I can’t thank her enough for bring our little butterfly girl to life.
Andrew: Do you have a favourite place to write?
Ashling: I have an office but for some reason I always end up at the kitchen table. I have big bay windows and am surrounded by trees so I think this helps me relax and makes me get lost in my words. On a good day, I can even ignore the cobwebs that constantly attach themselves to the windows, no matter how often I clean them!
Andrew: Thanks for chatting on the blog and we wish you every success with Butterfly Girl. I’m sure kids will love the story and illustrations and will be empowered to meet challenges and changes.
Buy Butterfly Girl now
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If you loved learning about Ashling Kwok and Butterfly Girl, you can find more interviews with book creators and find book reviews at the Kids’ Book Blog