Ashling Kwok talks about her new book Lola and Grandpa. She reveals the inspiration behind the story and what she hopes it will achieve
Lola and Grandpa is a sweet and sensitive story about love, loss and the value of memories. What was the inspiration behind this story?
This story was inspired by my dad. He’s a wonderful man with a kind and gentle heart. He’s spent his whole life caring for his family and has never asked for anything in return. He drifts through life like a warm breeze – whistling, laughing, and bringing joy to everyone around him. He’s a very special man and I am lucky to have him as my dad. Even though my dad is still with us, there’s been some scary moments over the years where we could have lost him. Those moments made me reflect on how my family would feel if he was no longer with us, and the seed for Lola was planted.
How did the idea for this story develop?
One of the strongest memories I have is standing at my parent’s kitchen window watching my dad and daughter stroll around his garden. They would examine everything around them and talk about the meaning of life. Then my dad would lift my daughter up into his arms so she could touch the sunflowers and cuddle him tight. Watching them together gave me goosebumps because I knew that they were making memories and that those precious moments would stay with my daughter forever. My daughter is now 15 years old and she adores her grandpa as much as I do.
What do you hope readers will take away from their experience with Lola?
I hope that readers realise how precious the relationship between grandparents and grandchildren is and how important it is to spend time with our loved ones. I also want readers to know that even though life can be difficult sometimes, if we focus on the positives, we can overcome challenges and grow from the experience.
Were you concerned about tackling such a big subject?
No, not at all. When I was writing Lola and Grandpa a few people said that I shouldn’t let Grandpa die because it was too confronting for children. But I was adamant that this had to happen, as I firmly believe that children need to be made aware of real life situations. It’s the only way they can build resilience and learn how to deal with difficult moments in life.
What is your favourite part of the book?
On a personal level, I love watching the relationship between Lola and grandpa unfold. Most of the devices in the book – from the whistling, to the sunflowers, to grandpa’s cardigan – are based on real life. Reading the story reminds me of my childhood and what a gentle, sweet soul my dad is.
Did it take a long time to develop this story?
Not really. It was one of those stories that almost wrote itself. The story is so real to me that the words just poured from my heart. I hope the love and joy I felt writing the story translates onto the page and that readers will embrace it and find comfort in the words.
Was it difficult to find a publisher to embrace it?
Because of the subject matter, I knew that I needed to find a publisher who was brave enough to take on Lola and Grandpa…and that’s where Little Pink Dog Books came in. I sent my manuscript to LPDB in late 2017 and was offered a contract in early 2018. Working with LPDB has been a wonderful experience and I am eternally grateful to Peter and Kathy for their support.
Contact links: author website