INTERVIEW WITH ANDREA CHENG:
How did you get started writing?
When I was a young child, after dinner I liked to rest under the table and listen to the stories of my parents and grandparents. They talked about their experiences during The Holocaust and their subsequent escape from Hungary, and I remember thinking that my life was very ordinary compared to theirs.
When I was in elementary school, I loved to write; I was encouraged by my elementary school teachers and my parents. In sixth grade, I decided that I wanted to become a writer.
Who influenced you?
I was influenced first by my parents. They told stories, answered my questions, listened to my thoughts, and read what I wrote even when half of the words were misspelled and the ideas were scattered. Later I was influenced by my friends and neighbors. I grew up in inner city Cincinnati in a predominantly African-American neighborhood where I still live. There was a diversity of people, dialects, languages and stories in my childhood. As a young adult, I was influenced by the experiences of my husband, his family, and our children.
Do you have a favorite book/subject/character/setting?
As a child, I loved The Secret Garden.
I don’t have a favorite subject, character, or setting, but I can only write about what I know, so if I am writing outside of my own experience, I do a lot of research. I think I am drawn to characters who are thoughtful and for whom the conflicts are internal.
What advice do you have for someone who wants to be an author?
Often people are too focused on publishing rather than writing.
Write a lot, enjoy it, share your writing with others, listen to their suggestions, try things, play with language. I love making things out of clay, and writing to me uses a similar process. You can start with a shape, change it, add, subtract, rearrange, and see what happens. When I am overly focused on the end product, the process doesn’t work as well, so it is important to have fun.
Where is your favorite place to write?
I like to write on our back porch, even when it’s hot outside. In winter, I write in my small cluttered study.
What else would you like to tell us?