Author Chat with Helena Ku Rhee (The Paper Kingdom), Plus Giveaway! ~ (US Only)
Today we're excited to chat with Helena Ku Rhee author of
The Paper Kingdom.
Read on for more about Helena and her book, plus an giveaway.
Meet Helena Ku Rhee!
Helena Ku Rhee grew up in Los Angeles, but has also lived in various parts of the U.S., Asia and Europe. She has a soft spot for small, stout animals and loves to travel far and wide across this beautiful planet, counting among her favorite journeys a camping trip in the Sahara Desert, a swim with elephants in Thailand and a horseback-riding tour of Easter Island. Helena works at a movie studio by day, and dreams up story ideas in her spare time. She currently lives in Los Angeles. Visit her at helenakrhee.com/books or follow her on Twitter at Helenarhee
Meet The Paper Kingdom!
When the babysitter is unable to come, Daniel is woken out of bed and joins his parents as they head downtown for their jobs as nighttime office cleaners. But the story is about more than brooms, mops, and vacuums. Mama and Papa turn the deserted office building into a magnificent kingdom filled with paper. Then they weave a fantasy of dragons and kings to further engage their reluctant companion--and even encourage him to one day be the king of a paper kingdom.
The Paper Kingdom expresses the joy and spirit of a loving family who turn a routine and ordinary experience into something much grander. Magical art by Pascal Campion shows both the real world and the fantasy through the eyes of the young narrator.
Amazon * B & N * Indiebound
~ Author Chat ~
YABC: What gave you the inspiration to write this book?
The Paper Kingdom is based on my childhood when my parents worked as night janitors. They couldn’t afford childcare, so on nights a friend or relative couldn’t watch me, they had to take me to work. And to keep me entertained, they zoomed me around in empty wastebaskets and made up funny stories. They did their best to turn drudgery into magic, and I wanted to capture that sense of wonder in the story.
YABC: Who is your favorite character in the book?
My favorite character is Daniel. Yes, he’s supposed to represent me as a child, but the main reason why he’s my favorite is because writing from his perspective forced me to channel those early memories. I was around three and four at the time. So while writing the character of Daniel, I had to ask myself questions such as: what did I notice, how did I feel? It was like time traveling, thanks to Daniel.
YABC: What scene in the book are you most proud of, and why?
I love the scene when the family is driving to work at night. This page epitomizes why I’ve always loved picture books. The synergy between the words and images can be amazing, elevating a spread into a piece of art. The illustrator, Pascal Campion, perfectly captured the mood with the empty city streets, the colors of the night. The simple text and the rich artwork create a sense of anticipation, and I’m immediately transported to those long-ago days driving to work with my parents.
YABC: Thinking way back to the beginning, what’s the most important thing you've learned as a writer from then to now?
This is utterly, frustratingly true: perseverance is key. If you’re pursuing any creative aspiration, you will face rejection. And sometimes the rejection can be so relentless it’s easy to get discouraged. Many of my talented friends have given up their aspirations and allowed day-to-day life to take over because the rejections got under their skin. This makes me sad. Talent is an ingredient for succeeding as a writer/artist/creative person, but hard work and perseverance (and maybe a bit of divine intervention!) are the more important indicators of whether or not someone will realize their creative dreams. In the past, rejection would really bum me out. But over the years, I’ve learned to let rejection fuel me, instead of breaking me down. Keep going, keep revising, keep submitting and re-submitting.
YABC: What do you like most about the cover of the book?
I love the colors of the cover and how dynamic it is. Pascal and the team at Penguin Random House created a cover that truly captures the eye. I love it. And I feel such tenderness for the parents working hard beyond Daniel.
YABC: Which was the most difficult or emotional scene to narrate?
Toward the end of the book, I wanted to capture Daniel’s sense of heartbreak and outrage while watching his parents work so hard, while not letting the scene get saccharine or over-the-top. With picture books, it’s all about being spare with your language. So I wrote the scene over and over again, trying to capture Daniel’s emotions in just a few lines of action and dialogue.
YABC: Which part of the writing process do you enjoy more: Drafting or Revising?
I love revision. The blank page intimidates me, so I try to write something down very quickly, knowing it’ll get fixed later. Revision is like solving a puzzle – moving sentences over to different paragraphs, deleting a word or an entire character – to see how each element fits into the whole thing. I like the way a story takes shape during the revision process, how it gets better and better with each round. When you face a blank page, the possibilities are endless, which can be both exciting and a little paralyzing.
YABC: What’s up next for you?
I’m preparing for my book events for The Paper Kingdom – school visits, bookstore events, etc. I absolutely love meeting readers! Also, my third picture book, Sora’s Seashells, will be released in early 2021 by Candlewick Press, so I’m really excited for that. I’m also writing more picture books – I have a lot of ideas and a file full of manuscripts, so at a certain point I’m sure my agent will get tired of my asking, “Can you take a look at this story, too?”
YABC: Is there anything that you would like to add?
Thank you so much for reading The Paper Kingdom! And for all aspiring authors out there, keep learning and persevering. I’m cheering you on!
The Paper Kingdom
By: Maureen Johnson
Release Date: February 18th, 2020
Publisher: Random House Children's Book
Three winners will each receive a signed copy of The Paper Kingdom (Helen Ku Rhee) ~ (US Only)
*Click the Rafflecopter link below to enter the giveaway*
The cover art is cute and the storyline sounds like a sweet read. I would love to share with my grandsons. Best wishes to the author on the new release.