Seven Impossible Interviews Before Breakfast #18:
The Bloomable Blue Rose, Alvina Ling

h1 April 9th, 2007 by Eisha and Jules

Welcome to Episode 2 of our series of interviews with the Blue Rose Girls.  Today we’re getting to know Alvina Ling:  children’s book editor, blogger, adventurer, and yet another person to add to our list of Bloggers We Wish We Could Hang Out With In Person, ‘Cause She Seems So Freakin’ Cool.

Why is she cool?  Let us count the ways…

First:  She has TWO blogs.  There’s her own personal one at Bloomabilities, as well as being a member of the BRGs.  Talk about multitasking… 

Second:  She’s been immortalized as a children’s book character!  Lately she’s been contributing a series of “How I Met…” posts on the BRGs tracing her individual connections with each of the other members.  The first describes how her childhood friendship with Grace Lin eventually became the basis for Grace’s novel, The Year of the Dog, which Alvina edited.  How beautiful is that?

Third:  She’s edited some of our very favorite books, including The Sound of Colors by Jimmy Liao, and Hippo! No, Rhino! by Jeff Newman.  Listen here for a great interview with Mark of Just One More Book!! about what it was like to edit a Taiwanese adult graphic novel for a young American audience.  And read more about her editing process in this fabulously informative post.

Fourth:  She’s gone skydiving!  We weren’t kidding about that adventurous thing.

Fifth:  And she ran a marathon!  Running for pleasure, and not because you’re on fire or you’re really late or something with fangs is chasing you, is not a concept either of us can fully grasp.  We are in awe.

Sixth:  She’s thoughtful and interesting, and she’s not afraid to push the envelope, like in these three posts, in which Alvina speaks with refreshing frankness and insight on the issue of racism.  We particularly like the way she’s doing her part to fight racism by bringing more multicultural character-based children’s books into publication.  Woo-hoo!  Go, Alvina!

Seventh:  She apparently has really good taste in music.  See below.

If you’ve checked out her blog, you may be wondering where the name Bloomabilities comes from.  Alvina says:

… Bloomability by Sharon Creech is one of my favorite children’s books, and I just love the idea that this character in the book, who is Japanese, invents words, and “bloomability” is his word to mean “possibility.” One of my philosophies of life is that anything is possible, and I’m open to all the possibilities life has to offer. So I called my blog Bloomabilities.

We love that idea.  And we have loved getting to know Alvina Ling a little better.  Now it’s our very great pleasure to share that “possibility” with you, dear readers.  So, here she is!

* * * * * * *
7-Imp: What do you do for a living?

Alvina: I am a children’s book editor.

7-Imp: How long have you been blogging?

Alvina: My very first post was on MySpace on August 17, 2005, and then I became fairly active on Friendster, switching over to Blogger in June 2006.

7-Imp: Why did you start blogging? Why do you continue to do it?

Alvina: I wrote a post about why I blog here. But in a nutshell, I started to blog because some of my friends were doing it, and it was a outlet to write something that wasn’t work-related, to share my adventures with my friends, and to spread the word about the books I’ve worked on. I continue to blog because of all of these things, but also because I’ve become part of this wonderful blogging kidlit community that I never knew existed, and I can’t give it up!

7-Imp: Which blog or site would you take to the prom to show off and you love it so much you could marry it?

Alvina: It’s not a kidlit blog, but I have to say Cute Overload, just because it’s so darn cute, and it makes me feel good throughout the day. But other than that, I’d take my Blue Rose Girls, of course!

7-Imp: What are your other favorite things to do, other than reading and blogging?

Alvina:

  • Running: I love to run outside in the city, especially in Central Park. Those of you who read my blog know that I ran my first marathon last year, and it was a wonderful experience. I had great support from the blogging community, too!
  • Eating: Whether it’s a free hotdog at a bar, or Moroccan food at Café Mogador, or sushi, or ice cream, or popcorn, or cupcakes (sugar Sweet sunshine is the best!).
  • Art: I’m taking a life drawing art class right now, and I love it. I haven’t taken art since junior high, but I used to love drawing and painting as a kid, so it’s bringing back all these memories and these muscles I haven’t used in a long time.
  • Karaoke. A group of friends and I have taken to going to Karaoke almost once a month, sometimes more, and I always have a blast. I don’t have the greatest voice, but I love music and singing and like hamming it up, singing dramatic sad ballads and really acting it out. It’s hilarious. And it’s almost better when people are horrible — if I wanted to hear good singing, I’d listen to my CDs.
  • Having adventures!

7-Imp: What’s in heavy rotation on your stereo/ipod lately?

Alvina: I’m getting more into indy rock, especially being here in NY. My friend just sent me albums by the Klaxons, Arcade Fire, Cold War Kids, CSS, and Peter Bjorn and John, so I’ve been listening to those. I also recently bought The Shins’ new album. I also listen to podcasts: slate.com; NPR: Most Emailed Stories; and This American Life.

7-Imp: If you could have three (living) authors over for coffee or a glass of rich, red wine, whom would you choose?

Alvina: I’ll have to exclude my fellow BRGs, as well as any of the authors I work with. Them aside, I’d have to say:

  1. Sharon Creech, because I love her books but have never met her, and my blog is named after one of her books!
  2. He’s not a children’s book author, but Malcolm Gladwell, because I love his books and articles so much, and he would make sure the conversation was never boring.
  3. Oh, geez, this is hard. There are so many possibilities! Umm . . . well, I’ll say Linda Sue Park, because I’ve met her a few times but have never really had the chance to have a long conversation with her, but I think she’s super nice and her writing is amazing.

7-Imp: What’s one thing not many people know about you?

Alvina: That I hate to read! Just kidding . . . Well, here are six weird things about me . . . What else? Well, my friends and family all know this, but I have a tattoo — it’s my last name, Ling, in Chinese on my right shoulder. It looks like two trees and means “forest.” Grace Lin and I actually have the same last name in Chinese (hence the title of her blog), but when my father came to the US from Taiwan, he decided he wanted to spell it differently than other people with the same last name were, and so he added the “g” at the end. His brother (my uncle) actually also lives in the States, and he spells his last name “Lin” so my father has a different English last name than his brother! And while on the subject of “Ling,” I’m distantly related to the journalist Lisa Ling, but through our mother’s side, and her last name in Chinese is completely different from mine, so it’s just coincidence that our last names are both “Ling.”

* * * * * * * The Pivot Questionnaire * * * * * * *

7-Imp: What is your favorite word?

Alvina: “Hope.”

7-Imp: What is your least favorite word?

Alvina: “Racism.”

7-Imp: What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally?

Alvina: Beauty, especially in nature.

7-Imp: What turns you off?

Alvina: Closed-minded people, ignorance, hate.

7-Imp: What is your favorite curse word?

Alvina: I actually am not a big curser, it wasn’t until probably the last few years that I’ve started to “drop the F bomb.” When I was a kid and was upset, I’d yell, “Beaver Dam!”

7-Imp: What sound or noise do you love?

Alvina: The sound of the clarinet, rain pattering, the muffled sounds of the city when it’s snowing.

7-Imp: What sound or noise do you hate?

Alvina: Umm, the sound of two things crashing together, a parent screaming at his/her child.

7-Imp: What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?

Alvina: Ever since I was little, I’ve always thought about teaching. I’d also love to be a mother and a foster mother someday. Oh, and I dabbled in radio in college, and wouldn’t mind working on an NPR show or something.

7-Imp: What profession would you not like to do?

Alvina: I would hate to have to clean bathrooms for a living.

7-Imp: If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?

Alvina: “Good job! Would you like to go back for seconds?”





12 comments to “Seven Impossible Interviews Before Breakfast #18:
The Bloomable Blue Rose, Alvina Ling”

  1. Thanks, Jules and Eisha, for this inside look at Alvina. She’s a much more adventurous Blue Rose Girl than I. I’d never go skydiving–or run a marathon! She’s a great book editor, too.


  2. Elaine, the Just One More Book interview (linked above in ours) is great in that they really get into all the many things an editor does. It was enlightening to me anyway. As usual, Mark and Andrea do a fine job with that interview, and Alvina’s got lots of neat stuff to say.


  3. I’m so glad you linked to Alvina’s blog posts on racism. I’d never heard that weird (and stupid) theory about gay men and Asian women. I figure it’s always good to be informed about what people think, even if it does make you roll your eyes.

    But what I really loved was her story about how when she was a girl she craved stories about girls with dark hair. I never thought about that. Thanks for opening my eyes.

    The down side of these interviews, E & J, is that you keep introducing us to more and more smart, witty, thoughtful bloggers, and you know that just means more time reading their brilliant posts every morning. What are you trying to do to us?

    Despite that, thanks for another great interview! Alvina, you’re so damn cool. Marathon and all.


  4. Yeah, Alvina! What are you pointing at in your photo?

    Lovely interview, 7 imp!


  5. Aw, thanks everyone! And especially to Jules and Eisha for your kind introduction. You guys are the cool ones!

    Grace, I’m not sure who I’m pointing at. Probably the photographer.


  6. Thank YOU, Alvina. And to everyone else for chiming in.

    I feel your pain, Robin. But as long as there are smart, witty, thoughtful bloggers like yourselves out there, Jules and I are gonna feel compelled to hunt them down and ask them what their favorite curse words are.


  7. One of my favorite bloomabilities posts is the love story of Alvina’s parents. Also would love to see a full list of the books edited by the brilliant Ms. Ling.


  8. That IS a good story, Mitali. And I too would love to see a list of the books Alvina has edited. Why didn’t I think of that?

    I’m totally gonna consult you on the next blogger interview…


  9. I am an Alvina fan after she made sure to introduce me to lots of cool people at the Kid Lit Drink Night in NYC. I’m not a wallflower, but I wasn’t sure how I was going to go up to groups of people who did know each other and wedge myself in the conversation. Alvina was sooo sweet. It seemed like everytime I hit some lull, Alvina was there saying, “Have you met blahblahblah.?” And you know what? I didn’t even have to pay her…much. Thanks Alvina.


  10. MotherReader, never met her (except for chatting with her for this interview), but I’m not surprised to hear she’s that genuinely nice in person, too. You can just tell.


  11. [...] author Jill Corcoran posted a great quote on her blog on Wednesday, a tidbit of advice from editor Alvina Ling. Alvina reminds us of Julie Andrews’ quote that “perserverance is falling 19 times and [...]


  12. [...] City in 2002, I was at a party and met a young children’s book editor from Little Brown, named Alvina Ling. I showed her a book dummy I’d made called Flight of the Dodo, and after she helped me polish it [...]


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