Pie in the sky is an amazing book by the amazing author Remy Lai. It was our March book of the month.
We had the chance to be able to send Remy Lai a few questions about her and her book(s), here are her answers:
Q: Have you always wanted to be an author? Were you already writing stories when you were in primary/secondary school? A: No. I didn't know I wanted to be one until I was in university. When I was a kid, I never had an author or illustrator come to my school, so it didn't even cross my mind that it was a career option. But I've been writing stories since I was in primary school. I loved English class because I got to write narrative essays.
Q: Why did you choose to write books for children? A: Well, my editor said that I have the mind of an eleven-year-old. He means it as a compliment, and I take it as one. I did not make a deliberate decision to write for children. That's just who I write for when I first started writing, and I loved it and I still do.
Q: How do you come up with your ideas for books? A: I think ideas are everywhere, but you have to keep an eye out for them and also be open to possibilities. They can come from watching television, reading books, or just your everyday life.
Q: Do you base your characters on people you know or have known? A: I put bits of people I know into my characters. Not one character is exactly the same as someone I know.
Q: When do you decide on the title (at the start or at the end)? A: I usually decide at the start, but authors know that titles often change. The publishers will decide on the title, because they have more expertise on what works for the readers. So I try not to get too attached to titles. PIE IN THE SKY was not the original title—it was Rules For Making Cakes.
Q: How long does it take to write a book?
A: Every book is different. Some books take longer. Some books, like PIE IN THE SKY, come faster. But every book requires revision—though some require more than others.
Q: How many drafts did you have to do?
A: I have many drafts of PIE IN THE SKY. Some drafts only have little differences between them, while others are night and day. If I were to count them all, I'd probably have 25 drafts, and that's before it got to my editor's table.
Q: What were your favourite books when you were our age (11 year-olds)? A: I loved to read comics—Duck Tales, Calvin and Hobbes, Tintin. Like Yanghao, I also loved The Little Prince.
Q: In Pie in the Sky, is Jingwen story inspired by your own life? A: His story is partly inspired by mine. I only learnt English when I was nine years old. I also have 4 siblings, so his relationship with Yanghao is definitely inspired by my relationship with my siblings.
Q: Have you ever felt left out, different and alone in life like he does?
A: I have felt like he does. When I was a kid and I emigrated, the language barrier made it hard to make friends. Sometimes, I feel left out/different/alone because of other reasons, like maybe feeling like I'm weird and don't fit in. But the important thing is to know that there are people who feel the way you do, and people who love you. You are not alone.
Q: Which country do Jingwen and Yanghao come from? A: I did not state in the book which country they come from, but from their names, you can tell they're of Chinese descent.
Q: How does Yanghao cope better than Jingwen when learning English and adapting to the new country?
A: Yanghao copes better because he's younger—it's often easier for younger kids to adapt to new surroundings. In addition, he's also a little more outgoing, and more daring to try new things than Jingwen.
Q: Cakes are really important to Yanghao and Jingwen, do you also love cakes and which one is your favourite? A: I do love cakes. My favorite is the chiffon cake.
Q: What will your next be about? A: My next book is called FLY ON THE WALL, which will be released in the US on May. It's about twelve-year-old Henry Khoo who takes an international flight on his own, without his parents' approval or knowledge, to prove that he's not a baby anymore. The book is even more heavily illustrated than PIE IN THE SKY.
Q: Will Jingwen be in it?
A: Jingwen is not in it, but he's mentioned in it. I like to insert Easter Eggs into my books, so that readers who've read my books can spot little tidbits from my other books in the book they're reading.
Many thanks for your answers and we can't wait to read your next book!
We have also posted the review here: https://www.booksink.io/post/march-2020-book-of-the-month-pie-in-the-sky