|Tiemdow Phumiruk, Winner of the SCBWI 2014 On-The-Verge Emerging Voices Award|
Today, we find out more about Dow and the work she submitted that won her this award...
Dow: My picture book Mela in the Jungle is a new Thai fable set near a river village in Southeast Asia. Young Mela finds herself lost in the jungle, and she needs help to get home. She meets different animals and asks for help, but only the one with the kindest heart saves her. It is a simple story with a lesson about kindness that families with young children can enjoy together. The artwork will mimic a traditional hand drawn style with a slightly modern blue-green palette. It is sure to warm your heart in less than 500 words!
An optional author's note (not included in the word count) gives background information about the Ping River in northern Thailand. It talks a little about the climate and populations of Southeast Asia, as well as some common traditions (such as how gratitude is expressed with a spoken "thank you" while putting hands together as in prayer).
Lee: Can you share about your journey so far in children's literature?
Dow: My roundabout journey in children’s literature has made me feel whole, and I love to tell people how I’ve found my way here (and solved my identity crisis in the process). I came to America at a very young age. I grew up immersed in two very different cultures, and at times it was challenging to find my place in either world. Our country has made great progress in cultural awareness over the past few decades, but there is much more to do. I’d love for children of all backgrounds to grow up knowing that they belong, no matter how different they feel they are.
As a child, I enjoyed art and creativity immensely. I wrote and illustrated my own books, cartoons, and short stories. Two things took me away from this. First, my parents strongly influenced me to choose a practical career path – after all, my mother came to the United States in 1971 with only a coin in her pocket and few belongings. She was one of many nurses welcomed to America to alleviate that era’s nursing shortage. My mother wanted so much for me to become a financially independent adult and leader. Secondly, I had an artistically gifted older cousin, and I thought my work could never compare to hers! I lacked the confidence to embrace the arts while making my way through young adulthood. These two early factors began shaping my eventual decision to become a doctor, and I chose the field of pediatrics.
In 2003, when I spent time as a stay-at-home mother, I found the opportunity to play with art again. It wasn’t long before I realized that creating books for children was a serious passion. Though I returned to work part time, I knew I could never leave this huge part of me behind again.
By 2011, I knew I needed to join SCBWI. My learning has been exponential since I did. Not only has SCBWI helped me grow as an author/illustrator and develop my style, but it has completed me as a person through new friendships in a community of like-minded, like-hearted people. My critique group, started by fellow RMC-SCBWI member Tia Christine, has been invaluable to me.
The guest artists at our local conferences have given me the majority of my art education. Also, I’ve entered many SCBWI contests (my favorite part of membership!) and have seen myself grow by pushing to a new level with each entry. So I sound like a paid advertisement now, don’t I? Well, it is all because I am truly grateful to SCBWI for this journey, for helping me find out who I really am.
As a winner of this year's On-The-Verge Emerging Voices Award, Dow will get an all-expense paid trip and free tuition to the 2014 SCBWI Summer Conference in Los Angeles, August 1-4. That's where her award will be presented and she'll receive a manuscript consultation with an industry professional, an additional meeting with an industry professional, and tuition to the Summer Conference Writers or Illustrators Intensive.
Lee: What are your hopes/plans for this summer's conference?
Dow: As for the exciting matter of attending the LA SCBWI Summer Conference: I can’t wait to be there!! I am so happy to share my work and meet new friends in the field. Of course, I would love to connect with an industry professional who sees value in my work, and every conference is more exposure towards that goal.
It is my dream to be published traditionally one day, so that my stories can help children see the strength that lies in our diversity. I plan to promote my current book projects and my illustrations in general. But mostly, I intend to enjoy basking in the light and vibrance of over a thousand creative souls! It’s where I belong.
To find out more, you can visit Dow's blogfolio (portfolio) site: www.artbydow.blogspot.com and her blog: www.happydow.blogspot.com