Saturday, March 14, 2009

Lisa Yee Interview!

I was lucky enough to score an interview with Lisa Yee. I asked her about her new book ABSOLUTELY MAYBE (reviewed here) and other questions about her life as a writer.
Here we go:

You seem to always write such quirky, interesting characters. Do you have a lot of quirky people in your life for inspiration? Or are you just real creative?

I think my family considers me the quirky one. However, I believe that everyone has their little quirks and that’s what makes us all different. When I develop my characters, I’m always interested in the small details. For example, if a person ate Corn Nuts at every meal that would reveal much more to me than knowing they were a dentist.

What was your inspiration for Maybe’s story? Someone you know? An event?

The book started out as a funny middle grade novel called CHARM SCHOOL DROPOUT. But as I started developing the story, it began to change. It went from a spoof about beauty pageants to something deeper and darker . . . although still funny. And Maybe morphed from a middle schooler to a 17-year old.

I was born and raised in Los Angeles and love it here. I also lived in Orlando, FL for a good chunk of my life. However, I was always homesick. Maybe’s story is about her homecoming (to LA), a place she had never been before.

You are awesome at describing characters. I could see Maybe, Hollywood, Ted and even Chessy in complete detail in my head. Does that come naturally for you or have you honed that talent over the years?

Even when I was a kid, I was wondering about the lives of others. I’d make up stories about people I’d see. I still do that. Before I start any book, I usually take a week or two just figuring out my characters--who they are, what they like, what they’re scared of. All my books are character driven, and they dictate the storyline.

Your blog is very entertaining. I love the way that authors today are so accessible through so many places online. Do you find that being on the computer a lot distracts from writing?

Yes. No. Sometimes.

To me, the computer is a necessary tool. I don’t think I could be an author if we still used typewriters. I love blogging and am on Facebook too much. But it’s also part of the process. Writing is a very lonely business, so with the internet I feel connected to the rest of the world.

I noticed in your bio that you’ve had a wide variety of jobs in the past. If you weren’t a writer, what career do you think you would have enjoyed?

Hmmm . . . I’ve often thought that I’d like to make jewelry. Being Brad Pitt’s stylist wouldn’t be a bad job either.

Is being a published author all you thought it would be? Any surprises? Favorite parts?

It’s better than I could have ever imagined. I was surprised, however, by all the public speaking. I had never equated that with being an author.

My favorite part is meeting my readers. When a kid tells me that one of my books changed their lives, well, that’s what makes all of this so worthwhile.

When do you write? Do you like mornings? In the middle of the night?

My best writing is done after 10 p.m. When I’m on a deadline I’ll stay up until 3 a.m. or so. That’s when the house is quiet, and I’m not distracted by e-mail or the laundry calling me.

What’s next for you? Any works in progress you can talk about?

The first of a chapter book series is out in September. It’s called BOBBY VS. GIRLS (ACCIDENTALLY) and it’s with Arthur A. Levine Books. I also have a short story in the YA anthology, GEEKTASTIC: STORIES FROM THE NERD HERD. And just this week I turned in a sequel to the MILLICENT MIN series. That will be out next spring.

And finally, inquiring minds want to know, how did the fascination with Peeps begin?

NPR is to blame for that. I was listening to a program about blowing up marshmallow Peeps and just had to try it. Then I got hooked and started blowing up Peeps all the time and taking photos for my blog.

I believe it was a fan who sent Peepy to me. Now she travels with me everywhere. She even has her own fans who give her presents!

Thank you so much for your time! My students thank you also! We'll be looking for your upcoming novels!

Find out more about Lisa Yee and her books at her website here.
Her blog is here.
Also, her newest book ABSOLUTELY MAYBE has its own website here.