1. Are you surviving social distancing?
Haha, my toddler keeps me busy. She’s 19 months old and loves lots of attention, so she’s keeping my spirits up because I constantly need to find new ways to play with her and keep her entertained. I found out recently she loves pumpkin pie, so I’ve been baking quite a bit. Makes for a nice snack for both of us!
2. What has turned out to be a favorite activity while staying in?
I really love spending more time with my family. My husband and I have been working from home, so it’s nice to take all of our meals together and read books to our toddler in the middle of the day.
3. What are your three favorite books?
4. What has been your most exciting moment as an author?
I’m always amazed when a bookstore carries my books. Seeing them on shelves never fails to excite me.
5. What’s your favorite book you’ve written?
Of my books published, I would say Spin the Dawn. But there’s a book I’ve written that will be announced shortly that I love to bits, and it’s probably my favorite.
6. Do you have any secrets you can tell us about what the next year holds?
You can expect a new series from me.
7. What is the most difficult part about reworking classic fairytales into twisted ones?
Regarding the Twisted Tales series, it’s always challenging to take characters who are so universally beloved and stay true to them while giving them a new direction and journey. I do love working more depth into my favorite fairytale though.
8. Does your background in music influence your stories at all?
Surprisingly, yes! I’m a strong believer that my training as a musician has made me learn the value of practice as well as made me a better listener to my words. I’m no poet, but I try really hard to pay attention to the form and structure of my words, and especially the rhythm and flow.
9. What is the most challenging part about writing YA?
I’d say it’s often challenging to allow my characters to make mistakes. It’s tough because often in reviews of YA books I’ll see that readers are annoyed that a character makes a silly mistake or acts immaturely—and I often agree! But I have to remind myself that in YA, the characters are usually 15-19. It’s OK for them to make mistakes – that’s how they grow. So I’m still working on trying not to reflect my adult gaze upon my characters and let them be themselves.
10. Your books feature an array of powerful heroines. What do you hope your reader takes from them?
Thank you! I hope my readers will see a bit of themselves in my books’ protagonists and that inspires them, even if in the smallest ways. I’d been told so many times while growing up that I had to do something because I was a girl or that I couldn’t do something because I was a girl, I hope readers will read my books and challenge societal conventions and have the courage to be strong when they need to be!
11. I loved that both your books Reflection: A Twisted Tale and Spin the Dawn involved a female character dressing up as a male. Do you consider gender when you write?
Both were influenced by the Chinese legend Mulan, so writing an empowering female character was definitely an important part of my developmental process. In general, it’s important to write characters who are hardworking and display inner strengths, no matter their gender.
12. How does your cultural background influence your characters?
I grew up acquainted with legends and folktales from across the world, and namely from East Asia, and in that sense, my East Asian background has been hugely inspiring in my books so far, as I love to draw from the stories I loved from my childhood and use them in my writing.
13. Are there any other fairytales you would like to write about?
One of my favorite fairytales will be the basis for my next book!
14. Most of your readers are young adults. What advice would you give to your teenage self?
I’d tell my teenage self to slow down. I remember feeling such a sense of urgency that I needed to do something special and prove myself, but now as an adult, I value patience and self-awareness so much more.