Five Minutes with Rebecca Fung #LoveAusAuthors
Rebecca Fung writes mostly children’s fiction, including illustrated chapter books and middle-grade. She also writes speculative fiction short stories across genres, including horror, fantasy and science fiction. Like many writers, she is open to all sorts of themes and topics. She has a number of ideas for young adult stories and would love to write a crime, mystery or historical fiction book one day.
‘My best memories come from children’s books, which have influenced my writing. I remember how excited I was to read a great story as a child, and I want to create that experience for others. I also think in children’s books, you can be daring and imaginative and simply have fun; more than you can in adult books. If you create a three-headed monster made entirely of jelly and ice cream, who flies off to Jupiter, kids are in it for the adventure, not to ask how this is scientifically possible?’
Rebecca cites Roald Dahl as one of her great writing heroes, because, like Dahl, she likes to create both fun stories for children and darker stories for adults. ‘I love both his adult books and his children’s books. They’re edgy and quirky and he writes well for all audiences.’
Rebecca’s stories feature characters with strong emotions. She says that some include dark humour and some are just dark (usually the more adult ones). She enjoys taking a possibility or a character and following it through – asking why, or seeing what happens – no matter how weird, dark or strange. She enjoys finding that lever to make readers laugh, feel unsettled, or feel strongly in other ways, such as wanting to fight for a character, and says, ‘To me, it’s a challenge to get this just right and so satisfying when I think it works.’
Five Things About Rebecca’s History
- I grew up next to Australian bushland. I have childhood memories of a kookaburra waking me up each morning and wallabies peeking in at my bedroom window.
- I loved reading growing up, including children’s encyclopedias. I’d get up each morning and bury myself in a new subject and annoy people with facts – like what a Mobius strip was and all of the names of dinosaurs. I can be interested in a wide range of things – Greek and Roman mythology, space, maths, botany, history of all sorts of cultures and times.
- I am a problem solver (and often, a problem-creator!). However, I am known to have taken something that is broken, like something mechanical, and to fiddle with it for ages until I can figure out what is wrong with it. I hate the idea that I can’t work it out, or at least make some headway, or simply to understand it better!
- I have worked in editing and publishing – I used to be the Managing Editor of a legal publishing company. This has given me insight into the publishing industry and sympathy for the editors and publishers I work with.
- All my life I’ve been totally useless at sports and the last one picked for any team in school. I came last in any race or game. I have, however, recently tried doing some running for exercise and I have figured out it is not so bad and can actually be enjoyable.
Five Things About Rebecca’s Work
- My first two children’s books (Princess Hayley’s Comet and A Very Special Moon Mission) are chapter books. My current work in progress is a bit longer – a middle grade fiction novel (so it’s also taking a bit longer to write). I’m enjoying the process of developing the plot and characters and exploring the world more than in the first two books I wrote.
- Both these chapter books have a space theme. I remember going to a conference and meeting the head of the Australian Space Agency and he said there were two things children are naturally fascinated by – space and dinosaurs! I hope they love my space books – now I’ve got to think of a dinosaur story!
- When I went to a talk about moon missions quite a while ago, I was told Australia was assisting with the international goal of sending another crew to the moon – and that would involve the first woman on the moon. That was where the idea for A Very Special Moon Mission came from.
- My adult speculative fiction has been all short stories – published in a mixture of magazines and anthologies, some in Australia and overseas. That’s not to say I’d never write anything longer, I just took the opportunities that were there. They are a real mix of themes – twisted fairytales and legends, ghost stories, a Japanese river imp, quirky scientists, robots, mermaids, Christmas – I will have a go at all sorts of things.
- My current work in progress started as a short children’s story, a very simple and (I hope) amusing tale. I became very attached to the idea and I wanted to know more about the main character. I’ve done a lot of research into his world and facts about the background. I’ve given him much more of a story and a more complex personality. I hope others find him as interesting as I do!
Five Things That Help Rebecca Keep Writing
- A support network is very important – I have been lucky that my close family support me, but also other great people have popped up all over the place. I have had unexpected encounters where someone has approached me to say they are supportive of my work, and happy for me, or to tell me random inspirational stories about how I should keep on followng my dreams. It’s so inspiring to know there are those out there who just want to support you.
- Curiosity – I am always asking, why? This keeps me burrowing further into the world of my story and drives me to research and learn more about my characters, so I can keep writing about them. Unfortunately, it can mean a story blows out longer than is intended, and I can’t just write it…In those instances, I have to spend a while reading the background first – but I get there!
- Fresh air and new scenery – One thing I have found about exercising is that it’s a good time to think. I go to areas where I get a bit of a different view, which might prompt me to think differently, and the break and fresh air does me good. It is often a way to get new ideas or to work through problems with a current project.
- Pen and paper – I mainly type my manuscripts for the convenience (it’s going to have to be done at some point anyway). But I do love a good pen and notepaper. The tactile experience is special and scribbling helps me work on planning and developing ideas. I also feel I can be more creative at this time – mapping, drawing pictures along with my writing, etc. This helps when I am trying to resolve any issues – and pen and paper is an enjoyable experience.
- Routine – I know this is good for me, although it’s probably the hardest for me to stick at, as the enemy, ‘Excuses’, is often lurking around. But having a routine and writing regularly really does work. Even a small amount regularly adds up! I was very pleased with myself when I managed to stick to a routine for a few weeks and was surprised at what a difference it made, even when it was only a few hundred words on some days.
In the future, Rebecca hopes to finish her next novel and to see it published, and says, actually, just finished might be good! Her dream is to have her own personal library, with floor-to-ceiling shelves with ladders, mostly stocked with lots of books, all of the ones she already owns and much room for the many more books to come! Plus some comfy reading chairs and good reading lights.
She also dreams of greater literacy in the world. ‘I was watching a show called Lost for Words last year and the rate of adult illiteracy in Australia is really astounding and affects the lives of so many people.’
She says she finds that in our digital world, there is a huge culture of making judgements about people very quickly, and also, that people feel they have to take a side/position almost immediately, and stick with it, because there is something ‘wrong’ with changing their mind.
‘I’d like to see a future where people consider the facts more carefully and feel it’s ok to say they haven’t made up their mind yet, or that they don’t want to discuss their thoughts on this topic, or that they have changed their mind – and that this isn’t seen as being ‘weak, stupid or bad.’
Finally, one day, Rebecca hopes to be able to run a half-marathon.
‘Yes, I know that’s not that ambitious but let’s start small. If I get there, I’ll hope for the marathon!,’ she says.
Find out more about Rebecca and her work at her website.
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