Interview with Emily Lim
For the last 9 years, Emily Lim has been coping with Spasmodic Dysphonia (SD), a rare voice disorder and has been inspired by her own condition to pen three children’s books. This is her story.
If you wake up one morning and find out that you have lost your ability to speak, what would you do? Take a minute and envision it. You’ll no longer be able to communicate via talking, no longer be able to sing in the shower, no longer be able to cheer on a soccer team in support, no longer be able to talk dirty to the hubs, no longer be able to nag at the kids…no longer be able to be the person you are by speech. Frightening isn’t it? Terribly. But how would you get over it? Pills, therapy, hope?
Well, one woman has managed to break her silence with a pen. For the last 9 years, Emily Lim has been coping with Spasmodic Dysphonia (SD), a rare voice disorder and has been inspired by her own condition to pen three children’s books.
The former corporate director of business development for Raffles Holdings, had her first book, ‘Prince Bear & Pauper Bear’ honoured and it earned her the title of being the first person in South East Asia to win the IPPY (Independent Publisher’s Book) Awards 2008, which is the world’s largest book awards competition. The story circles around a poor bear who just wants to be loved in contrast to a proud bear who loves himself.
After writing her second book, ‘The Tale of Rusty Horse’, Emily Lim finalised her decision to become a full-time writer. The picture book is about a forgotten rocking horse that has a simple wish to be the favourite of everybody.
TheAsianParent caught up with Emily to find out more about her books, struggles and her latest book hitting stores, ‘Just Teddy’.
Emily Lim’s Thoughts…
TheAsianParent (TAP) : Hi Emily, how about a little about yourself before we plunge in?
Emily Lim (E.L) : I come from a closely knit family – my parents, brother and myself. They were a constant source of emotional support through my struggles with SD. Through this journey, my parents struggled to understand what I was going through. When they saw my husband and I find strength and joy through our Christian faith a few years back, they too started seeking and were baptized last year.
TAP : You’ve been married for a while to a very supportive husband, are children on the cards yet?
E.L : We have been asking ourselves the same question lately. We will have to let things take its natural course on this.
TAP : Who is your biggest fan and critic?
E.L : That has to be my husband. He reminded me throughout the writing and publishing process that I should shoot for excellence and honour God in my writing.
On Coping with SD
TAP : Corporate high-flyer to children’s author – How was the transition for you?
E.L : Actually, “corporate high-flyer” is just a high sounding term which somehow got tagged to me through the earlier media coverage. I was just a corporate person flying around doing work like everyone else. But, the whole journey with SD did change and enlighten me and I realised that my identity shouldn’t be tied to my job. But like Rusty Horse, it took a while to come to terms with that.
TAP : Spasmodic Dysphonia – a life-changing thing that happened to you. However, you have managed to create a new life for yourself because of that condition. Besides how supportive people around you can be at a time of crisis, what else have you realized because of your condition?
E.L : In the earlier and “dark years”, I was very hurt by any comments which people (especially strangers) made about my voice and would withdraw for days. But I learnt to look past that and let that baggage go. I also learnt to be thankful for small mercies – a good voice day, love of family and friends – simple things which I didn’t spend much time reflecting on before I had this disorder.
TAP : ‘Prince Bear & Pauper Bear’ has gained a good degree of popularity. When you penned this book, what was your initial aim?
E.L : When I first wrote the story, it was with the purpose of writing something meaningful which could hopefully inspire. It was only when I looked back that I realized I had subconsciously drawn from my own struggles in writing the book. My Mustard Seed Books imprint was inspired by Matthew 13:32 on the parable of the mustard seed. It’s about having a meaningful purpose and small beginnings.
TAP : Have you thought about creating a series for children (i.e. Harry Potter, Captain Underpants)?
E.L : I have thought about that and will let that brew in my head till the inspiration comes. But I would certainly like to explore other genres of writing.
On Singapore’s Writing Industry
TAP : Singapore has a lack of local writers. In your opinion, why do you think this is so? Could it be because of the lack of creativeness or the stereotypical belief that writing is a retirement plan to keep busy in those golden years?
E.L : The industry is young and many people still have the perception that it isn’t a serious job. When I tell people I am an author, some take it as a hobby and ask me when I’m going back to real work. It has also yet to pay the bills – fortunately, my husband has been supportive and agreed to work for the two of us in the meantime. I earned more income giving tuition during my university days.
TAP : What is your advice to people who want to write a book?
E.L : Many people have come up to tell me they have been wanting to write a book for years but just never got down to it. Until last year, I was like that too. I’ll say take part in book competitions like the First Time Writers Initiative organized by MDA and the Book Council – such competitions are a good motivator to get started. But don’t quit your day job as yet!