Jukebox Time recently got a chance to interview Sabrina Mailhot in regard to her book ‘Anna Meets Chinese New Year‘. We got insights into her new book, her source of inspiration and much more!
Q. Welcome to Jukebox Time! How are you doing?
Hi! Thanks for having me. I’m doing great. How are you?
Q. Great! Can you share the personal experiences or anecdotes from your own children’s lives that inspired you to write “Anna Meets Chinese New Year“?
You know, when you come from one culture and live in another, you’re bound to make mistakes, as I did when I visited China. My kids Yuna and Anna’s first Chinese New Year was the most memorable because they did something unexpected that we now discuss every year. You know, in China, you have to join family members and bow to your ancestors (or, in this case, my husband’s ancestors) at the family grave in a ritual, but my kids decided to play by running about and climbing on things they shouldn’t have. As a result, they climbed up on a slightly higher rectangular tombstone belonging to another family’s ancestors and began running across the polished rock from one side to the other. My husband was furious and stated that it was disrespectful to do so, and that he needed to apologize to the other family. He warned the children that if they didn’t behave, the spirits would follow them home.
Q. Why did you specifically choose to focus on youngsters between the ages of three and six? What do you hope they will gain from reading your book?
My children are currently one, three, and four years old, and they enjoy the stories I write about them. It is a time when their imagination is at its greatest, and they continue to believe in the magic of storytelling. Furthermore, my children are studying three languages at the same time, and the younger they are, the easier it is to learn languages. They’re like sponges.
Q. What positive nuances or aspects of intercultural relationships do you find most inspiring to incorporate into your stories, and how do you think these elements contribute to a broader understanding of love and connection?
There are aspects of both cultures that may be embraced, and I believe the stories and outcomes are interesting. I mean, we learn new things every day, and by combining the best of both worlds, we can see that, while we do some things differently, the ideals that we celebrate remain the same. It is all about family. There are numerous preconceptions that exist as a result of cultural rejection or ignorance, and I discovered that the majority of them are incorrect. The perspective of a child exploring the world and all its beauties is the one I wish more people would adopt.
Q. Writing is often a balancing act between inspiration and discipline. How do you manage to stay motivated during the creative process, and how do you handle challenges or writer’s block when they arise?
It’s not always easy, but I believe the joy that kids get from hearing stories about themselves and the numerous discoveries they’re making right now inspires me. Because kids are young, they have the entire world to uncover, which makes for fantastic writing material for me, but I like to go for a drive whenever I get stuck writing. I am still learning, and I feel like I have a lot to say but not enough time to write down all we see and do while juggling family and work responsibilities. I always keep a notebook in my purse for ideas that I do not want to lose.
Q. Who are some of your favorite authors, and how have they influenced your writing style or approach?
I’ve always been a dreamer, and fairy tales, legends, and myths are among my favourite stories. That’s probably why I majored in History. The elder generation of writers, such as Charles Dickens, Lewis Carroll, J.R.R. Tolkien, Charles Perrault, Margret and H.A. Rey, and others, appeal to me because of their style. Modern novelists include Cassandra Clare, Lauren Kate, and Rick Riordan. I am a fan of fantasy and history. And it’s better when they are combined.
Q. What advice would you give to aspiring authors, especially those who are venturing into writing children’s books for the first time?
Make mistakes, but keep writing. Be patient, but also do throw yourself out there. Accept failure as part of the journey.
Q. What do you hope readers take away from your books, and how important is reader feedback to you?
I hope people perceive international families in a favourable light. We’re like a link between the two worlds, providing both realities and cultures as we experience them. There are various ways to learn a new language, but reading literature you enjoy again (repetition) helps the words stick. Learning a language isn’t intended to be intimidating. The books not only help English speakers acquire Chinese vocabulary, but they also help Chinese speakers learn English. I speak multiple languages and have studied them in various ways. I reasoned that simplifying Chinese/English might benefit those who have trouble encoding information in their long-term memory.
Q. Can you provide a sneak peek into any upcoming projects or ideas you have for future children’s books? What themes or topics are you excited to explore next
While writing the Anna Meets China series, I began working on the Yuna Meets Canada series. My children are discovering both cultures into which they were born. So expect to see more of these books in the coming months and years.
Q. Lastly, as we ask all our guests on Jukebox Time. Any closing thoughts that you would like to share with the world and our readers?
The world is not all evil. Keep an open mind and work at your own pace; mistakes are bound to occur. I found myself on the opposite side of the world, stumbled across the language and culture, and had a good chuckle about it. Give your dreams a chance, and fight for them. Nothing is impossible with hard work.
About the Author: Sabrina Mailhot, a published Canadian author, holds a degree in History from Laval University and a Higher Education Teaching certificate from Harvard. Fluent in several languages, She has been navigating between two worlds, Canada and China, ever since marrying a Chinese husband six years ago. Specializing in intercultural relationships, she shares insights and experiences through writings featured on platforms like WWAMBAM (Western Women with Asian Men, Breaking All Molds) and various other websites.
Anna Meets Chinese New Year is now available on Amazon!