Bai Bing, the editor-in-chief of Jieli Publishing House, is also an author. He has written more than 30 titles since his teenage years, including the picture books Daddy, Don’t Be Afraid; Free as a Cloud; and The Umbrella Tree; and the middle grade titles The Statue of Drame and White Jasmine.
Bai is inspired by the works of many authors, from William Golding, Maxim Gorky, and Rabindranath Tagore to Chinese writers such as Bing Xin and Jin Bo. “I read all kind of works, including Charlotte’s Web, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, and Russian fairy tales,” Bai says. “From these works and authors, I learn to observe the world from a child’s perspective and harness the power of words to convey a story.”
Authenticity and uniqueness are the two qualities Bai seeks in his works. “If it is a picture book, I make sure the language is simple yet interesting,” Bai says, who strives to create stories that will remain relevant. “If it is a poem, I pursue the beauty of language and rhythm. And if it is a middle grade title, I want originality and impactful words.”
Writing is a part of Bai’s already busy life, filled with the demands of a full-time job at Jieli. “I write whenever I can find some time—during long flights, on the train, in my hotel room, during the long Chinese New Year holiday,” Bai says. “Or I record my thoughts on my smartphone and transcribe them later. But there is always time for writing if one is determined enough.”
There is no lack of stories either. “Inspiration is everywhere,” Bai says. “The Umbrella Tree is based on my own experience with an umbrella as a kid. My daughter’s insistence on playing outside and refusing to come home even as the sky darkened provided the idea behind The Elephant Who Eats the Night. She talked about eating the night so that she could play outside all the time.” Bai says he hopes his stories “will help children to differentiate right from wrong, grow up strong and confident, and transition smoothly into adulthood.”