How long have you been writing?
I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember, ever since I learned how to hold a pencil, form letters and spell. My most vivid memory of writing was when I was in kindergarten and completed my first story all by myself. It was one sentence long and included an illustration I created and I was so pleased! I'll never forget that feeling of pride and accomplishment. To get published, I’ve been writing for decades now.
What did you do before you became an author?
I’ve worked as a copy editor, production editor, graphic artist, and school media specialist assistant (one of my most fun jobs!). At the moment, I run the Writing Center at a college during the day and write in the evenings and on weekends.
What is your favorite thing about being a writer?
I have so many things I like about writing. I enjoy coming up with stories, creating characters, and imagining worlds for the characters to live in. I'm also glad knowing that my books will help fill the gaping hole of diverse books in kidlit.
What inspired you to write this book?
My book is about eight-year-old second-generation Hmong American twins Astrid and Apollo Lee. I was inspired to write this by the many beautiful Hmong children in my life, from my relatives to the students I met while working in the local elementary schools. These children deserve to not only see themselves represented, but to also see themselves as the stars of books, just like other children get to be. Equally so, their non-Hmong peers need to see Hmong children as stars too. I'm so excited that this series--which I've planned in my head for years--is finally coming out. There are four books in the series and they all publish on August 1.
What type of book are you writing? What draws you to this category?
ASTRID AND APOLLO is an early reader chapter book series. I love chapter books because they bridge the gap from picture books to novels and allow emerging readers to become independent readers. Chapter book series also give readers the opportunity to experience more than one adventure with characters they enjoy, which is one of the reasons why I like them so much.
What would you like potential readers to know about your book?
Because Hmong people are rarely included in mainstream literature, I hope ASTRID AND APOLLO will give readers a more authentic and updated representation of my community. I hope readers will learn a little about Hmong people, food, and language but more importantly, I hope young readers of all backgrounds will see that Hmong American children are like any other children who just love to play, laugh, and have fun!
What are your social media handles?
You can find me at my website: www.vtbidania.com, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/vtbidania and on Twitter/Instagram at @vtbidania.
Tell us one interesting fact about yourself!
My full name is hard to spell and harder to pronounce, so I’ve always gone by my nickname “Vong,” which is a shortened version of my given name. Vong is a common Hmong boy’s name, however, and this has led to many instances of mistaken identity for me throughout my lifetime!
Celebrate the release of the ASTRID AND APOLLO series at the virtual book launch on August 1 at 1pm CST on Facebook Live! Join V.T. Bidania as she talks about the inspiration for ASTRID AND APOLLO. There will be a short reading, writing/drawing challenge, and book giveaway. See you there!