Interview With Children's Book Author Christina Oberon of Hope Strong & Embaby Elio
When did you become a children’s book author?
I became a children’s book author in November, 2020
Do you have a writing background?
Since I was a kid, I have always loved to read and write. I was in Journalism and News Writing classes in High School and received a Quill & Scroll award. However, I had no plans to become an author.
How did you come up with the story?
Embaby Elio is the story of an embryo on an adventure through an IVF cycle. The book was inspired by my own journey with IVF and my son who was born in 2018.
How did you come up with the character?
The main character, Elio, was inspired by my son. The embryo that was my son was shaped like a peanut so I have him in a peanut shell to mimic the shape of the embryo. Elio is curious and adventurous, just like my son.
How do you select names for your characters?
I wanted a meaningful name but also one that would flow nicely with ‘Embaby’ since it was important I have that reference (embaby is a term used for an embryo in the infertility community). So I went through a baby name book and came across ‘Elio’. I liked the sound of it paired with ‘Embaby’ and when I read the meaning of the name, I was 100% certain it was the right name. Elio means ‘sun’ or ‘the chosen one’. My son inspired this book and I call him my sunshine. More profoundly, our doctor chose him from our embryos as the one to transfer. The name felt very fitting.
Did you hire an illustrator or do the illustrations yourself?
I hired an illustrator for several reasons: 1. I am not an artist; 2. There are specific measurements and bleeds required for children’s books; 3. The illustrator also prepares the right formats for uploading/publishing. Thank you to GetYourBook Illustrations.
Are you self-published or published through a publishing company?
I am self-published.
From the day you came up with the idea for the story until you were holding your published book in your hand, how long did it take you to complete this book?
I had the idea in 2018 but it took around four months from when I actually wrote the manuscript in 2020, to being published.
What made you want to publish a children's book?
I knew I wanted to write a children’s book for IVF babies after having my son in 2018. I felt that it was important for babies conceived this way to have a fun way of telling their story of how they came to be, as well as offer parents a creative way to explain it to their kids. I also wanted a book my son could have as a forever keepsake for his journey here - a special gift from me to him.
What is one thing you wish you knew before beginning your book publishing journey?
Don’t be afraid to not appeal to everyone. Your story and story telling will attract and impact the right people. Focus on serving those people.
Any tips for future children’s book authors?
Start marketing your book prior to publishing. Make connections with others such as podcasters, influencers, online magazines, local shops/bookstores - those who align with your book category/genre - inquire about collaborating, etc. It will give your book a great jumpstart once published.
What is the best reaction from a reader, so far?
I have had several readers tell me that they have cried reading both of my books. To be able to touch others in the deepest parts of their hearts is a very humbling feeling.
What is something you’d like people to take away from your book(s)?
I’d like people to read my books and really feel and believe that there is hope in hard times. That the outcome to their journey will always provide a lesson and for many, a blessing too.
Where do you get ideas for your stories?
I tend to write from life experience/lessons, so most of my writing will be from a place of knowledge and giving back to those who are experiencing something I have overcome.
What's your writing process like?
When I get an idea, I like to research what is already on the market in the same category. I do some homework and put notes in my phone. I brainstorm how I can set my work apart from other similar books. I don’t rush the writing process, but instead, tend to write only when inspired and ideas come to me. That usually looks like quickly putting a note in my phone and building upon that. Then I will begin building on those notes until I have a draft manuscript.
Do you have any other books in the works?
I have another children’s book idea but it is in the very early stages.
What does literary success look like to you?
Literary success, to me, means adding value and impact to others - that my writing will allow someone to view an idea or situation differently, in a more positive light.
Do you read all of the book reviews you receive?
What was the hardest thing about getting your book published?
The hardest thing about publishing my first book was just figuring out the technical aspects of publishing. With my children’s book, the biggest challenge I faced was finalizing illustrations. I didn’t know how much detail had to be considered finalizing how characters look, their expressions, the color schemes, etc. I went back and forth with the illustrators for months.
What is your favorite children's book(s) of all time?
That is a tough question. I grew up in Hawaii so there are many books from Hawaiian culture that I adore - one being The Goodnight Gecko. I don’t recall reading many children’s books as a kid; I was reading novels by elementary. But my son really enjoys Jesus Calling for Little Ones.
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