Author Interview - J.A. YANG
Everyone welcome author J.A. YANG! His debut YA book EXCLUSIVELY CHLOE came out this year from Puffin/Speak. The book is about a girl adopted into Hollywood royalty.
The illustration is of Chloe-Grace, the main character of EXCLUSIVELY CHLOE. She's sixteen, Chinese, and in the book she describes herself as (in comparison with her parents): "Bad enough I wasn't statuesque like my mom or the owner of chiseled cheekbones like my dad. My face was a bit too oval, my nose a tad too flat, and my eyes a little too narrow to be considered classically beautiful."
1) Welcome to The Blog, Jon! What is EXCLUSIVELY CHLOE about?
Exclusively Chloe is about a girl who is adopted from China by two members of Hollywood royalty, a movie actress mother and a rock star father. Chloe-Grace is now sixteen and she's tired of every undesired moment of the world's attention. She's been on the cover of magazines since she was a baby and even had her embarassing middle school pictures plastered in glossies everywhere. Now she's wondering what it's like to be a "normal" kid and on the heels of her parents' impending media drenched divorce, she decides to get a make-under and enter the real world.
2) What inspired you to write Exclusively Chloe?
Awhile back, my friends and I started a celebrity fantasy league (like fantasy football but with celebrities). It was a long slow summer and we all worked together so this gave us something to look forward to every Friday, which was when the new issue of US Magazine would hit the stands. For her team, one of my friends drafted "Maddox Pitt-Jolie" while another one drafted "Sean Preston Spears." As it turned out, they were both on the covers of the magazine so much that they scored a ton of points. That got me thinking about how these kids had their every step since childhood documented and what it would be like to grow up like that.
That was the beginning of the idea and my agency knew a publisher who was looking for young adult queries about celebrities and child adoption. I was like, "I just spent the whole summer following this stuff in detail. Pick me! Pick me!"
3) Can you tell us about some of the challenges you encountered while writing Exclusively Chloe? How did you overcome them?
The hardest part was making sure that I was capable of writing a whole complete work of fiction. I wasn't an English or Literature major, had avoided any papers over twenty pages in college, and didn't have much professional experience writing until I did my non-fiction book on blogging in 2006. But that was a very different experience so doing a work of fiction was new and that felt scary. Things turned out well though because I naturally liked telling stories and creating characters and found that creating a fictional world, even one set in reality, was very enjoyable and fun to do.
4) What was your journey toward getting published at Puffin/Speak like?
It's been really great. We submitted an outline, a synopsis, and a few sample chapters and Penguin/Speak came back with some revisions and then was kind enough to contract me to write out the full story. So the process was actually really smooth, and I've only found out afterwards that it's not always that easy. I consider myself really fortunate.
What's strange in this industry is that you can build these relationships with people over email and phone calls and never see them in person. So I never actually met my editor until Exclusively Chloe was already done but it felt like we were already friends because we'd worked so closely together over the months. And then when I visited their office my editor took me to their book room and just started handing me all these amazing books to read and take. It was incredible.
5) Very nice! Please share with us your best writing advice!
Write every day, build that habit. I know everyone says that but after having written two books, it's only dawned on me now that it's so much easier to just write a little each day, or when you can, instead of waiting for inspiration to strike and trying to capture everything before the feeling goes away. I used to approach writing in great big bursts. Wait and wait and then shut down the rest of my life for two weeks and just cycle between writing, eating, sleeping and then at the end of the tunnel I would be finished but exhausted. Now I've learned to just take it a little bit at a time and to build the habit. Even if it's just writing in a private blog, a few hundred words a day, I think it really helps a lot to have that repetition.
True advice! Thanks so much for joining us today and I can't wait to read EXCLUSIVELY CHLOE!
If you're interested in checking out EXCLUSIVELY CHLOE, you can purchase it here.
If you're an author, editor, agent, or illustrator and would like a five question interview and a drawing of your character (or of yourself), email me at rtlovejoy (at) yahoo (dot) com. Check out the FAQ page for more information!