This month, we talk to author Susan Choi about her book, Camp Tiger. In this exclusive interview, we learn about what inspires Susan as a writer.
This month, Susan has challenged us to use our imagination:
A Interview with Susan Choi
What Inspired You To Write Camp Tiger?
My son Elliot, his older brother Dexter, their dad Pete, and a bunch of our good friends all love a campground in upstate New York called Mongaup Pond. A favorite time of ours to go is late in the summer, right before the school year begins. In 2013, Elliot was five-going-on-six, and just about to enter first grade, when we had one of our wonderful ‘last hurrahs’ of the summer at Mongaup. Right after we got home, Elliot had a dream about a tiger visiting our campsite. Unlike most of his dreams, this one impressed him so much he not only shared it with me, but even wrote it down. As soon as he told me the dream, an idea for a story – a children’s story – bloomed in my mind. Like Elliot with his dream, I wrote down my version right away. It was the fastest, funnest composition process I’ve ever enjoyed, because I barely had to do any work. Elliot had the vision, and he shared it with me so clearly that all I had to do was stay true to it.
Did You Ever Imagine Yourself Writing A Children’s Book?
Yes! All through my childhood I constantly tried to write children’s books that were based on my own favorites. Unfortunately, I never had any original ideas, but the aspiration to write a book or books for children stuck with me. Now that I’ve finally done it I hope to write more of them.
What Would You Say Was Your Favorite Part About Writing A Children’s Book?
Seeing the gorgeous, perfect illustrations that John Rocco made for the book. That was a dream come true.
What Advice Would You Give To Young Writers?
Try to make writing a habit, as stress-free and familiar as, say, brushing your teeth. Write a little every day, and don’t worry about whether what you write is ‘good’ or ‘bad.’ Just do it. The more you do, the better it will get.
What Would You Say Is The Most Important Part Of Being A Writer And Staying True To Yourself?
Write for your own pleasure and not for recognition. If you love your own writing and are proud of it, it will always be an end in itself.
Join us for summer camp!
Each of our Young Author’s Studio camps runs Monday-Thursday for 2 hours per session. We’re inviting passionate young writers to join us on Zoom for writerly learning experiences. Each camp will include lively skill-building activities, time for drafting, and collaboration with peers.
A special thanks to Susan Choi for sharing with us! You can find Susan’s book, Camp Tiger, here.
Susan Choi’s first novel, The Foreign Student, won the Asian-American Literary Award for fiction. Her second novel, American Woman, was a finalist for the 2004 Pulitzer Prize. Her third novel, A Person of Interest, was a finalist for the 2009 PEN/Faulkner Award. In 2010 she was named the inaugural recipient of the PEN/W.G. Sebald Award. Her fourth novel, My Education, received a 2014 Lammy Award. Her fifth novel is Trust Exercise (April 2019) and her first book for children is Camp Tiger (May 2019). A recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Guggenheim Foundation, she teaches fiction writing at Yale and lives in Brooklyn.