19 Apr, 2017
10 : 00
Our Middle School students were treated to a special visit from world-renowned children's author Trenton Lee Stewart last month. Trenton's inspiring talk, 'How to Create Curious Characters', delved into the ways that writers are able to build a good cast of characters in creative writing and how to create characters that readers find relatable. Trenton also explained how character development can propel the story's plot to make it more interesting and heartwarming. Trenton was in Hong Kong for a short time only participating in the Hong Kong International Young Readers Festival 2017. He took some time out of his busy schedule to talk to us about his time in Hong Kong and shared some handy tips for budding writers.
Can you remember what age you were when you first realised you had a gift for writing?
I was around eight years old when I started to take pleasure in writing silly poems – and I wrote a lot of them. I don’t know if I thought I had a gift, but I know I had fun.
What inspired you to become a children’s author?
I’ve always enjoyed storytelling and had been writing for adults throughout my adult life. I think having my own child and telling him stories probably got me to thinking about children’s books more. I thought I would like to write books for him of the sort that I loved most when I was a child.
Your Mysterious Benedict Society Series books are on the New York Times Best Seller list, which book from the series is your personal favourite?
I can’t really choose a favourite – it’s like choosing a favourite child. But my favorite experience in writing them probably came with the very first draft of the very first book in the series, when I was writing for children for the first time, and getting to know the characters I would come to love and spent so much time with.
What projects are you currently working on?
I’ve started work on another adventure for young readers. Wish me luck!
Aside from your workshop at our school, what else did you do during your time here in Hong Kong?
My visit to Hong Kong was far too brief. But I visited a number of schools and had dinners with some lovely Hong Kong writers. I also spent some time on the escalator. Now I want to come back!
What have been the hardest things that you’ve had to deal with and overcome as a writer?
Rejection is a part of every writer’s life, and one of the most challenging things to deal with. But if you want your work to be read, you have to prepare for rejection – criticism from readers, refusals from agents and editors and contest judges. You have to learn to accept rejection as part of the process and not let it slow you down. Well, it may slow you down – but you can’t let it stop you!
What tips can you give our students to improve their creative writing skills?
The biggest two things are to read as much as you possibly can – read, read, read – and to write as much as you possibly can, too. You learn best by doing, and by paying attention to what other writers have done. Always try to write the sort of thing you would really want to read yourself.
What can parents do to encourage their child’s writing talent?
I think exactly that: Encourage. Focus not on perfecting the craft – that comes with time – but on practicing and enjoying it. No need to worry too much about finishing projects if the child loses interest. The important thing is that young writers do what is most engaging to them. There’s time when they’re older to worry about the very challenging tasks of doing multiple revisions and finishing novels. Right now they should be having fun! Or so it seems to me. Thank you!
Thank you, Trenton Lee Stewart, our students and staff were truly inspired!