Camellia Koo Finds Her Community of Writers, Thinkers, and Feelers at Summer Camp

Jul 23, 2023 | Scholarship Stories

Camellia Koo joined us for this year’s Summer Camp in Fiction supported by a General Scholarship. She says the scholarship “was incredibly meaningful to me and my still very new pursuit in this dream of being a picture book author-illustrator. It was a beautiful and very generous nudge to keep going, to keep learning and exploring my craft, and when I attended the Summer Camp in Fiction this past June, it allowed me to find my community of writers, thinkers, and feelers. Which in turn affirmed to me that I belonged here amongst this incredible group of mentors and fellow creators and my stories are important to share.”

Camellia’s Story

Camellia is a queer Chinese-Canadian author/illustrator from Toronto, Canada. They write heartfelt and humorous picture books about shy quiet kids with big loud hearts. Outside of picture book writing and illustrating, they also carry with them 22 years of storytelling as a set and costume designer for theatre, opera, dance, including theatre and opera for young audiences.

Camellia chose Summer Camp because she wanted an in-person experience “and kind of to go to a place that was made for creators, and which is fantastic. And I liked the idea of that, and having sort of the hands-on one-to-one-experience with mentors and with fellow creators…it literally, it changed my life.” Camellia says “my head and heart are still bursting from Summer Camp! Being still very new to this genre of storytelling, I learned so much about the technical craft and artistic craft of writing and finding inspiration everywhere. I learned to write with joy and to love our own writing and our stories. I learned that reading your own work out loud on open mic night is terrifying but so worth it and very helpful to hear your own story out loud in your own voice. And I learned that sharing in community with fellow creators is inspiring.”

She very much wants to take that inspiration to the children she’ll reach through her storytelling: “There are so many stories I wish to tell that I wish I had growing up. I want to use everything I have learned so far (and will keep learning!) to tell these stories where kids can see themselves represented and feel seen and heard and be inspired by to be themselves, and that they matter and that they belong.”

You can watch Camellia talk about her scholarship experience at our 2024 Scholarship #HFGather here.

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Photo of Camillia Koo
Camillia Koo's Summer Camp badge

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