Local author/illustrator to hold talk and signing following release of her third book

Pam Fong
(Jody Pinchin)

North County children’s author Pam Fong will host a talk and book signing Nov. 13 at the Diesel bookstore in the Del Mar Highlands Town Center for the release of her latest work, “A Spark in the Dark” (Greenwillow Books/HarperCollins Publishing).

The story, which will be released on Nov. 1, is a picture book with artwork by Fong aimed at children 4 to 8. It is about a little fish who gets lost in the darkness of the ocean.

“The fish starts out near the surface where there is light,” Fong said in an interview. “On a fishing boat, there is a little girl and her father. The little girl is dropping bread crumbs into the water. Our hero fish starts following one of those crumbs, but the crumbs lead him down into the darkness and then suddenly he finds himself surrounded by darkness.”

"A Spark in the Dark" is Pam Fong's third book.
(Pam Fong)

She added that it’s “really a story about persistence and about looking for the light when things get dark.”

The idea for the story came about three years ago, when Fong said “things felt kind of doom and gloom all around.”

“It was more like a mantra for myself than a lesson for anyone else,” she said.

The plot of the book is an example of how Fong uses her writing to introduce children to topics and subject matter that they will have to learn to cope with in their lives.

“There are things we want our kids to learn, the sooner the better,” she said. “But sometimes we just have to give them an entry into the subject matter that is age appropriate and then hopefully they will refer back to our stories as they gain more personal experience and understand a deeper meaning to what we originally wrote.”

Her second book, “Once Upon a Forest,” is about a marmot trying to save a forest as it recovers from a wildfire. The story is told solely through Fong’s artwork, with no words. Fong said she’s asked sometimes why she tackles such dark subject matter in children’s books.

“I don’t see them as dark, I see them as very realistic,” she said. “I think kids are smarter than we give them credit for and they get it, and they need tools, just like adults, to navigate their way around these subjects. So I think it’s important to give it to them sooner.”

Fong, whose has been a graphic designer and museum curator, turned to writing in part to tell stories that resonate with her.

“I think I had to wait for my two boys to go off to college and become men,” she said. “For me, at least, the writing space has to be very quiet. I don’t know how people write with young children and lots of distractions.

“I think there are stories everywhere,” she added. “I don’t necessarily go looking for them, but I just know if you put yourself out in the world, they come to you.”

Diesel is located at 12843 El Camino Real, Suite 104, in the Del Mar Highlands Town Center. For more information, visit dieselbookstore.com/events. More information about Fong is available at pamfong.com. Her books are available at Diesel as well as online.