While many young adults are still trying to figure out their career path, wiggling their way past daily obstacles that they face at the office, Charissa Ong decided that nothing should be in her way when it comes to achieving her dreams.
Charissa, who is 25 years old, is a self-published book author of two books that is filled with original poems written by her. She is also the owner of Penwings Publishing, an independent publishing house.
A young lady who hails from Kuala Lumpur, Charissa had always enjoyed the magical effect of rhymes. Her first book titled Midnight Monologues contained poems written from her heart, a product of her painful journey from a heartbreak. Charissa chose to pen her emotions as she found it therapeutic. Soon, she started sharing her work on social media and it gained positive reactions.
Although netizens around the world felt a connection with Charissa’s work, book publishers on the other hand were not too positive. Confident and determined, she then decided to use up her entire savings to publish her own book and start a publishing house.
From publishing to designing, writing and promoting her book, Charissa is truly a Jill of all traits and her hard work most certainly paid off as Midnight Monologues was awarded MPH’s Best Book of 2016.
This year, Charissa successfully launched her second book, Daylight Dialogues, with fresh content as she challenges her writing. Readers will be entertained with anagrams, poems that you can read from top to bottom, two-sided poetry and diminishing poetry style.
Filled with poems and short stories, Charissa’s writings are easily relatable as she writes from real life events. We had the opportunity to speak to Charissa to find out more about her journey and her dreams as a poet and writer.
1Twenty80: What inspired you to start writing poems?
Charissa Ong: I’ve always liked nursery rhymes and myths with fantastical songs which rhyme. Disney was and is a big influence in my life. It has a magical, mysterious, playful ring to it.
1Twenty80: How did it lead to publishing your own book?
Charissa: The book was a result of my readers and friends asking me to publish. Thank goodness for social media! It was never in my original plan to publish though.
1Twenty80: At what age did you publish your first book?
Charissa: At 23 years old! I did it in 2016. I’m a 1992 baby. I’ve always had this thought that people publish only when they reach a ripe old age of like forty, fifty or when they reach retirement.
1Twenty80: With your work, how do you hope to inspire others?
Charissa: It’s really great to hear that my work is capable of inspiring others. I want people to think laterally, to put themselves in the shoes of others and practise deep empathy. I want them to unlearn and relearn what they already know, humble themselves and try to understand different perspectives. A more well-read society is a tolerant one.
1Twenty80: Could you share with us some of your future plans as a writer?
Charissa: My dream is to be a best-selling author at Barnes and Noble. I want to write storyboards for narrative PlayStation 4 games, write songs for artists and screenplays for movies. I just want to write and see my work take different forms. Books and social media are the first forms. As a publisher, I want to publish talented, hardworking writers all over the world, starting with my own country Malaysia (Although I’ve already published Timothy Joshua from Singapore last year, ‘Questions to our Answers’ which is in market now too).
1Twenty80: What inspires you when writing?
Charissa: Anything really, like stories around me, personal experiences, movies, songs and books. I do read a lot, about a book a week of different genres.
1Twenty80: How do you make time for writing? Do you have a specific time of the day to write?
Charissa: Yeah, it’s difficult. But I write after work, on the train, and on the weekends and holidays. I usually keep keywords and ideas in my Keep app and come back to it later when I have the time. It’s all about time management. I plan my months, weeks, days and hours.
1Twenty80: What is your advice to Malaysian writers?
Charissa: Write because you love it. I know its cliché, but if you write for the public, make sure you do proper market research. Know your audience and become your audience. Insult your work, fix it, then insult it again. But if you write for yourself for fun, it’s fine too! There are no rules when you are just writing for yourself.