Friday, October 18, 2013

From Underwater World Adventure to At the S.E.A. Aquarium

The story is now set @ the S.E.A Aquarium

I first started writing the Sam, Sebbie and Di-Di-Di series back in 1997 and the books were first published in 1998. Underwater World Adventure was the third book in the series to be published. When I first started writing the stories, which feature my niece and nephews as the main characters, I had no idea if they would be published or not; I just wrote them to entertain my niece and my nephews. 

Of all the stories, Underwater World was my favourite by far and the thing is that I didn't start writing it from the beginning, I started with a line "Have you seen our brother Di-Di-Di?" and the plot evolved from that line. 

It took me some time and a lot of prayers and I managed to come up with a story that I was happy with. Of course, I had to do several redrafts before I was ready to show it to anyone.

Working draft of Underwater World Adventure (1998)

And when I got stuck I would sketch out my ideas. Here's one of the sketches I did when I was trying to craft the story. I had already written Sebbie's First Day of School and A Singapore Christmas and Underwater World Adventure was the third story in the series.

I approached a publisher with all three stories and surprisingly they said yes on the spot and they asked me to come up with an additional three more stories. After that they asked me to write an additional six stories so that there would be a total of 12 stories in the series. And that's just what I did.

As the years passed, the kids grew up--as kids tend to do--and the books gradually went out of print.  But then, as things would have it,  I met with my current publisher to discuss the possibility of revisiting the series in some capacity. We  finally started work on the new books earlier this year. I have to say I was really happy with the old books, but I am even happier with the new ones. What still surprises me, 16 years after the originals were first published, is the fact that occasionally  people will tell me they bought their kids those books all those years ago and their kids loved them. Now that's something! Now I only hope a new generation of kids will feel the same way.

My concept sketch for one of the spreads.

The spread as it first appeared in print.

From At the S.E.A. Aquarium. Illustrated by Soefara Jafney 2013

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