Bram Stoker and Elgin award-winning author Christina Sng visited Singapore American School in February 2019. It was a tremendous learning experience for AT Writing Workshop and Publication students. We had the chance to learn more about the talented poet.
1. Can you tell us about yourself? As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I grew up here in Singapore and I’m the youngest of three. When I was a child, I wanted to be a teacher. Currently, I live with my family in Singapore.
2. Tell us something no one knows about the Christina Sng we see.
This is a tough question—I’m a what you see is what you get kind of person, but what is not obvious is that I eat a lot and I am generally nocturnal.
3. What are some of the main themes you purposefully craft into your content?
I write instinctively so I don’t purposefully craft my themes but looking back at the body of my work—there is family, love, hatred, vengeance, justice, alienation, war, and peace.
4. Where and how did it all start?
Since I was about three years old, I was drawn to the natural rhyme of poetry and began crafting short poems when I was five years old. Most were about things a child does, like following her mother to the market and meeting people. In my teen years, I poured my angst into poetry, veering toward the dark and upsetting a then-good friend of mine when I let him read it. He told me to never write things like that again. Of course, I didn’t listen. In my 20s after a terrible break-up, I began writing again and this time, I sent my poems out to magazines. After a year of rejections, I sold my first two poems to Dreams and Nightmares. That began my journey as a professional poet.
5. Was there a moment when everything seemed to click?
There was no one moment. It was the feeling of rightness in each stage when I wrote, edited, sent my work out, got rejected, re-sent my work out, and sold the poem or story. It was the process that clicked for me and it is a recurring, comforting journey finding homes for my work.
6. How old were you when you wrote your first book?
I was 44 years old when A Collection of Nightmares was released. I had been working on it for 20 years—putting together my best and favorite published poems.
7. How long did it take you to write a book from start to finish?
A Collection of Nightmares took three years to compile but it took the better part of two decades to write. I hope to be more efficient in my subsequent books!
8. Where does your art come from? What’s your inspiration? Has your art changed over the years?
Most of my art is imagined. I was never very keen or good at painting what is in front of me. I draw inspiration from space and from monsters. My art has changed with each lesson I have taken from various places—online and in person. I can’t say I have a particular style. I’m still learning and discovering what it is.
9. What do you like to do when you're not writing/drawing?
Sleep and snack. I’m like my cat in that respect.
10. What does your family think of your books?
They don’t think anything of it.
11. What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?
How hard it is to review my own work. It takes much more clarity and focus than I imagined and that is in short supply these days.
12. Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say? And how does that affect your work?
Readers are the best. They’ve said good things so far and it is encouraging. Some have given constructive feedback on the themes and compilation which will help me a lot as I put together my next books.
13. Will we see more of Christina Sng extended to other things? Anything in the pipeline that we’d like to know?
I’ve sent my next horror poetry collection to my publisher and am awaiting her response. Ongoing projects include compiling a short story collection and a novel, both of which may take the better part of a decade. I’ve completed a space poetry collection and a haiku collection which need a final read-through before I send them out to find homes.
14. How was your experience working with our students?
It was such a joy working with SAS students. They greatly inspired me with their enthusiasm and passion for writing, and more significantly, their incredible drive and keenness to learn.
15. What do you think about the opportunity we're giving our students to work with renowned authors through our Visitors-in-Residence program?
I think the Visitors-in-Residence program is a wonderful opportunity for SAS students to collaborate with authors from a different place and time in their writing journey.
PTA SPONSORED VISITORS-IN-RESIDENCE PROGRAM
The Parent Teacher Association (PTA) is one of the key pillars of the SAS community. The countless volunteer hours committed on the part of hundreds of PTA volunteers helps to raise money for investing in community building activities across campus throughout the year. The PTA donates the balance of its money to the school at the end of each year.
In 2018-19, the PTA contributed remaining funds as a gift to the SAS Foundation. This S$300,000 gift was earmarked for the signature academic visitors-in-residence program, bringing renowned authors, illustrators, artists, actors, and dance professionals to campus to work with students in all three divisions.
The comprehensive academic visitors-in-residence program allows students to deeply understand the craft and work of professional artists and develop a lifelong appreciation for the arts. Students are able to develop relevant learning skills in relation to creativity and different modes of communication. These visits result in a greater sense of community that connects the head and the heart.
- AT Writing Workshop and Publication
- high school
- visiting author