Today I want to introduce my author friend, Songju Daemicke. Her STEM book, Tu YouYou's Discovery: Finding a Cure for Malaria. Illustrated by Lin.
Read through my interview with Songju Daemicke:
How many years have you been in publishing?
I started writing in 2012 when I attended a free English class for foreigners at our local community college. The draft for my first book, A Case of Sense, was actually one of my class assignments. The positive response I received for it from my teacher and classmates encouraged me to write more and pursue my interest in creative writing. That is almost ten years now.
Would you tell our readers how many years you have been working on this book before you got a contract on it for publication.
I was working on this book for almost two years before I got a contract on it. I read a couple of books about Tu YouYou in 2018. At the beginning of 2019, I watched a BBC program called Icons: The Greatest Person of the 20th Century. Tu YouYou was one of four candidates in the scientist category. That set me on a mission to write this book and share her amazing story. I finally signed a contract with Albert Whitman & Company in September, 2020.
Do you have other books already published that you would like to tell us about?
Tu Youyou’s Discovery: Finding a Cure for Malaria is my third traditionally published book.
My first book A Case of Sense, is also STEM themed. It is a part of the Creative Mind Series of Arbordale Publishing. All books in this series have a creative minds section, with STEM concepts related to the book and hands-on activities after the story. A Case of Sense involves the five senses.
My second book Cao Chong Weighs an Elephant was a Best STEM book, the Winner of 2018 CALA Best Juvenile Literature, an Outstanding Science Trade book, a Notable-Social-Studies book, and a Mathical Honor Book. It’s related to “sink or float” concepts.
What inspires you to create picture books? Do you write any other genres (MG, YA, adult)?
I grew up in a small town of China and always loved to read and listen to stories. Even though I loved literature, I chose Computer Science as my major when I went to college and worked as a software Engineer. After my twin daughters were born, I became a stay-at-home mom and read to them every day. Reading rekindled my love of literature. I also noticed how few children books exist about Chinese culture. I decided to try writing children's books myself. So here I am today.
I’ve also been working on a middle grade story for a few years now, but haven’t finished it. I signed up for NaNoWriMo this year and hopefully it will give me the extra push to get the first draft done.
When you are “stuck” or have “writer’s block”, what do you do to help you over the hump?
One of my MS was started in September, 2020. I worked on it for a few of months but couldn’t get it working. I left it in my drawer for a few months and started reworking on it again in April 2021. The result was quite different. My agent loved it. It is in submission now. I’m taking a break and reworking the story and having fresh eyes help me.
To date, what would you say is the biggest moment of your career?
Probably, when I read my Mathical book Cao Chong Weighs an Elephant at the National Math Festival. It was scheduled in Washington DC in April 2021. Because of the pandemic, it changed into Zoom event. In any event, I felt honored to read my book and be interviewed in the front of so many curious kids and educators.
Tell me more about your book and share about your illustrator.
My book Tu YouYou’s Discovery: Finding a Cure for Malaria is about a Chinese woman scientist Tu YouYou. YouYou had been interested in science and medicine since she was a child, so when malaria started infecting people all over the world in 1969, she went to work on finding a treatment. Trained as a medical researcher in college and healed by traditional medicine techniques when she was young, Tu YouYou experimented with natural Chinese remedies. The treatment she discovered, Artemisinin, saved millions of lives, earned her a Nobel Prize, and is still used all over the world today.
The illustrator Lin did wonderful job to bring Tu YouYou’s story to life with her gorgeous illustrations. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to connect with her through email or social media.
If you could tell an aspiring author one thing, what would that be?
Embrace and learn from your heritage and culture, then use it in your writing. This will give your story deeper meaning and heart.
For more information about Songju, please be sure to connect or check out the following:
Now that you have met my author friend, it is time for a GIVEAWAY! Yes, comment below to enter in a chance to win Songju’s beautiful book, Tu YouYou's Discovery: Finding a Cure for Malaria. Please enter before November 21, 2021, for a chance to win!