{Interview #6} Ruth Wan – Writer and Editor

Ruth Wan is a Children’s Book Author and Managing Editor of Armour Publishing. She created the popular Timmy and Tammy series which was presented by President Tony Tan to Princess Charlotte as part of Singapore’s gift to the royal baby in 2015. Five Timmy and Tammy books were also selected for the SG50 Baby Jubilee Gift Pack which was given to all Singaporean babies born in 2015. She is in her late-30s and is married to a policeman. They have 3 children.

This initiative is part of our 101 Paths to Success series of interviews to gain insight into how successful people came to do what they are doing, and enlighten parents that there is a vast array of occupations for our children to discover. Hopefully it might spark an interest in our children and youths to start their journey of discerning their life’s path.

Your qualifications

Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and International Studies

Ruth Wan
Describe your job

In the morning, I go to the office and work with authors, illustrators, designers and other editors to produce books for the local market. These could be books on marriage, family and parenting. Or, they could be christian books or children’s books.

As managing editor, I plan the publication schedule for Armour Publishing – I do this six months to a year in advance. This involves meeting up with potential authors to discuss book ideas, dealing with contracts and conceptualising book series.
Tell us about your career path

I worked in government for 7 years until I gave birth. Then, I sat around on maternity leave and decided to extend my leave. I ended up extending my leave for two-and-a-half years before returning, but insisting on a part-time basis only.

I found it difficult to work part-time in a largely full-time environment. So I left the Civil Service to work for an award-winning graphic design firm that had a small publishing arm, called Epigram.

When the publishing arm started growing, it eventually became its own entity, Epigram Books. I started as Editor in Epigram Books and became Managing Editor. Subsequently, I left to join Armour Publishing as Managing Editor and as I have the autonomy to decide what to write and publish, that’s where I started my own children’s series, Timmy and Tammy.

How did you find your passion?

I’ve always loved to read and write. I write better than I speak. I also need to read something in order to fully understand it. I have always had editorial instincts. I spend a lot of time correcting my own speech, and the speech of others, to make the words more grammatical. It drives my husband crazy. I used to think I was weird, but then I found editorial soul mates in my other editor friends. There are more of us in this world!

When I started having kids, I found myself very passionate about teaching them how to read. I realised that my mum had taught me early on how to read, and I wanted to do that for my kids too. I taught all my kids how to read fluently by the time they were four.

I did not use any formula, curriculum or method. I just read to them and used my own make-up-on-the-spot method. When I was teaching my youngest daughter to read, I looked around and realised there were no readers in the market with local icons or landscapes.

I started writing a series that would address this gap – and I’m amazed how well the series is doing. I guess there are a lot of parents out there who want localised preschool books.

This makes sense because if children see landscapes and items they are familiar with, like the MRT, the Singapore Flyer and Changi airport, they are more likely to be engaged with the text and enjoy what they’re reading. This makes teaching them how to read enjoyable and fun.

Which aspect of your job gives you the most satisfaction?

I really love designing book covers! And I love that moment when you double click on what an illustrator has just sent in and your screen is suddenly covered with a beautiful full-colour illustration that is just so adorable!

How do you find time to balance work and family?
I chose to work part-time only, and go home in the afternoon. I spend time with my kids, hug them, and make sure they keep up with schoolwork. We try to go to the playground every other day, but only in the evenings when it’s cooler. There’s also piano practice.

I try not to bring work home and have this rule that if I do bring work home, it should be in hard-copy and should be mainly something I need to read.

What does success mean to you?

Success means pleasing God in everything that I do. The Bible spells out God’s plan for our life – since He’s our Maker, He knows what’s best for us and I have found that when I follow Him, His priorities, His values, His ways, I am blessed.

Are you involved in any volunteer work?

I sing in Church.

One advice to parents

Let your children know that you love them, you support them, you are there to encourage and root for them. They are going to face all sorts of things with their friends, with their grades, with the world. They need to have your love to have the courage and strength to persevere, to stand up for what is right, to choose to be different and to study for their Chinese exams!

To be a good writer, it takes someone… who has a reason to write and who believes in what he/she is doing.

{Interviews} 101 Paths to Success

#1 – Dr Karen Crasta Scientist Associate Prof at the Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine

#2 – Jeremiah Choy Creative Director Sing50 Mega concert at the National Stadium

#3 – Elaine Yeo Musician Singapore Symphony Orchestra

#4 – Chong Ee Jay Cyber Wellness Educator TOUCH Cyber Wellness

#5 – Professor Tan Huay Cheem Cardiologist Director of National University Heart Centre

~ www.mummyweeblog.com – a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~