Friday, July 13, 2018

Author Interview with Maurene Goo

Today I bring to you an interview with YA author Maurene Goo ( Maurene was born in L.A. and raised in Glendale. At U.C. San Diego, Maurene studied Communication and at grad school at Emerson College, she studied Publishing, Literature, and Writing. I’ve read two of Maurene’s novels- SINCE YOU ASKED (Scholastic) and I BELIEVE IN A THING CALLED LOVE (Farrar, Straus and Giroux).  

In SINCE YOU ASKED, Holly, the candid protagonist, pens a high school column where she gets to vent about her school and offend the student body with her words. Holly also tries to find balance between living as both a carefree American girl from Southern California and being a dutiful daughter of a traditional Korean American family. When Holly rebels against her strict upbringing, she must face the consequences...

In I BELIEVE IN A THING CALLED LOVE, Desi, a love-struck teen, schemes with her friends to win the affections of the artistic Luca. Desi’s guidelines for her plan come from her self-composed guide “K-Drama Steps to True Love,” derived from Desi’s observations of the Korean dramas that her single father watches. From faking a love triangle with a complicit guy friend to staging a car accident, Desi is rewarded when Luca falls for her. But Desi’s reward is short-lived when her plans are exposed...

From the sarcastic and cynical Holly in SINCE YOU ASKED to the dreamy and optimistic Desi in I BELIEVE IN A THING CALLED LOVE, the female leads in both books were credible characters whose antics were often entertaining to follow.

In SINCE YOU ASKED, you offer a candid perspective of Holly's adolescent experience as a Korean American teen who is making her way through high school. What experiences and feelings did you have growing up, if any, that inspired this story? (And if this story wasn't conceived from your past, feel free to share how you were inspired to write this.) 

Maurene: I was definitely inspired by my own personal experiences. SINCE YOU ASKED was my first book and I initially wanted to write YA because I wanted to see a book that was close to my own high school experiences. So a lot of what Holly was going through—figuring out your place in high school, crushes, and family angst—came from a very personal place.  

While reading I BELIEVE IN A THING CALLED LOVE, there were times when I was feeling concerned with how Desi could redeem herself after her dishonest scheme to attract Luca comes to light. What advice do you have for crafting a flawed and sympathetic character that readers can care about, the way I cared about Desi?

Maurene: A lot of times, when I draft, my characters are pushed to the most extreme version of themselves, so that I can fully figure out their “archetypes.” Then as I work on revisions, I really figure them out. With Desi, I think she became fully sympathetic and undeniable once I figured out where all the overplanning, controlling nature came from. And the reason was a very sweet one, something that endeared her to the reader. Think about the best villains—the ones that stick out in the best stories are the ones that we can relate to on some level, to see where their major malfunctions came from.

Since you have named a number of your books after songs, I take it that you're into music. How does music inspire you as a writer? Do you listen to music as you write?

Maurene: I always have to listen to music when I write! Especially writing YA novels—I have to channel teenage feelings and there’s no better way to do that than with music. I make playlists for each book and pretty much listen to that on repeat the entire time I work on it. 

What books/authors did you like reading when you were a kid?

Maurene: I loved reading series books like THE BABY-SITTERS CLUB and ANNE OF GREEN GABLES. I also went through a horse phase (THOROUGHBRED, THE SADDLE CLUB), a pen pal phase (PEN PALS), all the phases. Anything in series form about girls, I gobbled up. 

Tell me about your new book, THE WAY YOU MAKE ME FEEL. Feel free to share about any other projects you are working on. 

Maurene: THE WAY YOU MAKE ME FEEL is about an irreverent prankster named Clara Shin who takes one prank too far and, as punishment, she has to run her dad’s food truck with her nemesis over the summer. Over the course of this summer she becomes friends with her enemy, meets a cute boy named Hamlet, and learns to feel all the feelings. It’s also my love letter to LA, where I was born and raised!

Next year I have another YA coming out, SOMEWHERE ONLY WE KNOWIt’s a romance about a K pop star who spends one life-changing day with a boy she meets in Hong Kong. I can’t wait for everyone to read it!