Interview for Paper Tigers

Here is a bit of the interview I did with Marjorie Coughlin. 

Interview with author and illustrator Gabrielle Wang

After she left school, Australian author Gabrielle Wang studied and worked in Graphic Design before deciding to delve deeper into her Chinese heritage, which led her to study Chinese painting and calligraphy in Taiwan. She lived there for five years and then moved to China to continue her studies at the Zhejiang Academy of Fine Art in Hangzhou, China.

When she returned to Australia, Gabrielle began teaching Chinese. Originally intending to work towards creating a picture book, she discovered in herself a gift for writing novels: her fist published novel The Garden of Empress Cassia was published in 2002. It won numerous awards and has been published in the US and the UK, and translated into Spanish and Korean. Since then, she has written other acclaimed middle-grade and YA novels, as well as the text for the picture book The Race for the Chinese Zodiac. Her latest book,The Wish Bird, is due out later this year.

You started out following a career as an artist — please tell us about your journey to becoming an author.

A lot of it came down to luck and timing. For as long as I can remember I had wanted to be an artist, so I studied Graphic Design at RMIT University in Melbourne then worked in the industry for a number of years. At the same time I became interested in discovering my ‘roots’. On my mother’s side I am fourth generation Chinese Australian. My great-grandfather came here during the gold rush in the 1850s so my siblings and I grew up not knowing much about Chinese culture. We couldn’t speak the language and we didn’t celebrate Chinese customs. I remember when I was young being ashamed that I looked Chinese. I was the only Asian kid in my whole school apart from my sister, and there were not many Asian people in the streets.

It wasn’t until I was in my twenties that I wanted to learn more about China, so I went to live in Taiwan to study Chinese language, painting and calligraphy. While I was there, I wrote and illustrated a picture book which I later sent off to several publishers but without success. The years passed. I studied painting in Hangzhou, China for a further two years, returned to Australia, had children, taught Chinese at RMIT University.

If you are interested in reading the rest of the interview you can view it HERE on the Paper Tigers Website

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