Jennifer C Hsyu

Jennifer C Hysu was born in Taipei, Taiwan and raised in Los Angeles with a love of reading and writing for as long as she can remember. She graduated first from UCLA with a degree in Communications and went on to work in the animation, VFX and video games industries. After attending the Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers’ workshop, she began to write short stories and novels, but The Dinner that Cooked Itself, for Flying Eye Books, is her first picture book.

To find out more about her work, we asked Jennifer the following questions:

What inspires you?

Writers and illustrators inspire me, as well as hand-drawn animation, music and librairies. My husband inspires me every day.

And of course, books inspire me. Some of my favourite childhood memories revolve around books- poring over Joseph Schindelman’s illustrations in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory with a flashlight beneath the blankets, re-enacting entire chapters from Little House in the Big Woods, naming the gods and demigods in D’Aulaire’s book of Greek Myths, that day in school when my friend Catherine said simply ‘read this’ and handed me The Fellowship of the Ring, the first time I read the Litany Against Fear– and I don’t think I would have the courage or find the joy in writing stories today without these formative experiences and the inspiration I have drawn from them. Well, I can’t pretend to be little Laura Ingalls these days, but I did manage to write a story where AI does…

When working on a story, do you also visualise the book? Do the characters look a certain way in your imagination?

I don’t think I ever started out knowing exactly what the book and the characters look like and why they are the way they are. Sometimes I only have the first scene in mind… or the middle… or the last. Other times I have no idea what a character looks like until I imagine the first thing they would say or do and then there they are, standing in front of me. But there is always an idea that leads to other ideas and I layer in the details, brick by brick, until I have a complete picture.

How does it feel to have something you create in words materialise into a real image?