Megan Chen is a 15-year-old ice skater, pianist and now author who attends Newark Charter School and also interns with the Dual School, a University of Delaware Horn Entrepreneurship program which connects young people to professional mentors to help them launch projects that have an impact on their communities. Chen also recently won first place in the “social impact” division of the Diamond Challenge, an entrepreneurial pitch competition, for creating biodegradable utensils using imperfect produce. “We are hoping to replace all current single-use plastic utensils within chain restaurants, stores, etc with our biodegradable products. Ours don’t harm the environment,” she said.
Chen is also an avid reader and writer and has published her first book, Finding Tiger, which is currently available on Amazon and Kindle. We caught up with the young author to learn about the inspiration for her new book.
Michelle Kramer-Fitzgerald: How long have been writing and what was your initial inspiration?
Megan Chen: I have been writing for as long as I can remember. When I was younger, I loved to make up my own stories and poems, and it gradually became something that I fell in love with and wanted to take more seriously.
The inspiration for Finding Tiger stemmed from problems of cultural identity, implicit bias and stereotyping that I have struggled with in my life, and I often see others struggle with in my community.
MKF: Can you give us a summary of the Finding Tiger story? Who is your book’s intended demographic?
MC: Finding Tiger is a heartwarming yet adventurous story for students in early grades (Kindergarten to 4th Grade). The story centers on a young tiger who has no sense of self-identity. Through interactions with other animals including Blaire the Bear, Lu the Snake, and Elphie the Elephant, Tiger has to conquer assumptions and biases. Through the unknown jungle, she goes on a journey of self-discovery to find her true colors in the end.
MKF: What message would you like readers to take away from the story?
MKF: Do you have any book signings or promotional appearances planned to promote the book?
MKF: What authors/books are you currently reading or who/what are your favorites?
MC: I have recently been in a phase of reading books that have been turned into shows or movies. I just finished the To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before series, and I’m currently reading the Crazy Rich Asians book series. I’m also reading The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini — which is an amazing, heart-wrenching novel — and I’ve just started A Thousand Splendid Suns, which is also an incredible work.
MKF: If you could host a ‘literary roundtable’ of famous authors (living or dead), who would you invite and why?
MC: I really would choose an eclectic group of authors. As I am also very into poetry, I would invite Maya Angelou and Emily Dickinson. They are some of my favorite poets, and I know they would bring an amazing perspective [to the group].
From some of my favorite books growing up, I would have to invite J.K. Rowling and Roald Dahl. I am a huge Harry Potter fan, and I think everyone probably has a favorite book that is written by Roald Dahl. They are some of the most creative authors that I’ve read, and I’m inspired by them every day. Lastly, to finish off the group, I would invite Khaled Hosseini and Kristin Hannah. I enjoy just about any realistic or historical fiction novel, and I’d love to learn more about their lives and the inspiration that led them to creating some of my favorite books.
MKF: What’s next for you? What are you writing now or what are your literary goals for 2019?
MC: I’ve just been inundated with things related to school lately, but I definitely am still working on many new things! I think 2019 is the year that I want to get back into writing poetry, as I have previously taken a break from it.
I’m also hoping to write some short stories, and I’ve been working on articles for several online news publications. I am absolutely using this year to express myself through my writing, and my goal is to write at least one new thing every month.