Monday, May 12, 2014

Philly Recap, #WeNeedDiverseBooks, and RT!

Last weekend, I went to the Philadelphia Science Festival as a speaker.
The Franklin Institue, all festooned with helix balloons!
I kind of felt like I was giving a TED talk, with the secret microphone pack in the back of my pants and all. I felt very Beyoncé. About as Beyoncé as I'll ever get, probably!
This was the only acceptable photograph of dozens that my family took.
Man, I make some really goofy faces when I talk. 
I also got to teach a few high school classes at the Science Leadership Academy, on science fiction character creation, which was so fun! Go STEM students!
Two lessons I learned as an author? That teens still love the idea of merfolk. And also, they love it when teen main characters are outcasts, but have that one BFF to rely on. ;)

I may have spent an entire evening making Shrinky Dinks with my family. Talk about a blast from the past! It was super fun.

We also witnessed a gorgeous rainbow while we were visiting. I'd never seen such vivid colors before. The indigo and violet stripes were really there!

And finally, though I wasn't able to participate as much as I would have liked since I was at the Festival, the #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign happened last week. It was such a necessary and wonderful grassroots effort to raise awareness of the need for diverse books in children's and YA literature, as well pull those diverse books that are already out there into the spotlight.

Here's my contribution that day:

To read more about #WeNeedDiverseBooks, read here and here.

And also, see how the campaign helped add a Diversity panel to BookCon!

If you want to know how I feel about diversity as a POC author, I wrote this very honest post at the Diversity in YA blog. And I'll also be speaking about it upcoming at RT.

Speaking of which...RT is this week!

I'm pretty excited. I'll be on a bunch of panels and signing books, so if you're there, please tweet me @LydiaYKang #RT2014 so we can say hello!
Tuesday May 13, 10:55 PM-11:55 PM: YA Spooky Sleepover Party
Wednesday, May 14, 1:15 PM -2:15 PM: YA: "The Total Experience: Diversity in YA" Panel
Wednesday, May 14, 3:45 PM-4:45 PM: InterGalactic Bar and Grille
Thursday, May 15, 11:15 AM-12:15 PM: SCI-FI: It's Not Easy Being Green: Writing Non-Human Characters
Friday, May 16th, 10:00 AM-11:00 PM: Mind, Bodies and Believability: Turning Science into Fiction
Saturday May 17, 10:00 AM-2:00 PM: Book signing in YA Alley
Saturday May 17, 6:45 PM- 8:00 PM: Teen Day Party
Hope to see some of you there! Have a great week!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Happy Book Birthday to Kristin Rae's WISH YOU WERE ITALIAN!

Have some espresso. (Or gelato. Your choice.) And help celebrate the release of Kristin Rae's WISH YOU WERE ITALIAN, releasing today from Bloomsbury!

I've known Kristin through blogging for a few years, and am her "big sis" since she's in the Class of 2k14 and I was in the Class of 2K13. :) So happy to see her book out in the world now!

Pippa has always wanted to go to Italy … but not by herself. And certainly not to sit in art school the entire summer learning about dead guys’ paintings. When she steps off the plane in Rome, she realizes that traveling solo gives her the freedom to do whatever she wants. So it’s arrivederci, boring art program and ciao, hot Italian guys!

Charming, daring, and romantic, Bruno is just the Italian Pippa’s looking for—except she keeps running into cute American archeology student Darren everywhere she goes. Pippa may be determined to fall in love with an Italian guy … but the electricity she feels with Darren says her heart might have other plans. Can Pippa figure out her feelings before her parents discover she left the program and—even worse—she loses her chance at love?

Congratulazioni, Kristin! 

Monday, May 5, 2014

Interview with EMMA PASS, author of THE FEARLESS and ACID!

Hello everyone! Today, I'm happy to be interviewing Emma Pass, author of ACID and her newest post-apocalyptic YA novel, THE FEARLESS.

I thought I'd take you directly to where most of THE FEARLESS takes place, Hope Island, a haven from the frightening, deadly humans that have turned fierce and fearless. It's kind of cold and we're hoping the Fearless won't be sneaking up on us while we chat. Eep!

Hi Emma! Let's sit on the rock here and have some post-apocalyptic tea while we chat about THE FEARLESS. In this world you've created, the Fearless, a frighteningly strong and fearless brand of humans have driven a small group of survivors onto an Island for survival. Many necessities must be traded for in order to survive. What item would you trade for that you absolutely couldn't live without?
Hmm, I think it would have to be good boots, a bit like the ones Cass wears on the book's cover. I'm prone to getting cold feet, especially in winter, and it's miserable. So sturdy footwear would be a must!

I'm a boots girl, too! I love Cass's picture on the cover. Did you have any say on the cover design?
I didn't, but the photographer, Larry Rostant, also did ACID's cover so I knew that I was in safe hands, and the design team at Random House UK did an amazing job too! I absolutely love that cover.

So there are a lot of rules about living on the Island. For example, "All Islanders aged 17 and over are expected to contribute to the community on Hope Island by working in the roles chosen for them by the HIGC." I see the Patrol people giving us dirty looks for being out here! So, if you lived on the island, which role do you think they'd pick you for?

I don't think I'd be in the Patrol - I'm not brave enough (and standing on the sea wall in all weathers does not appeal to me!). I'd quite like to do something practical to keep me occupied – and tell stories, of course.

Me too. I can't stand cold, blowsy weather. :) So who is your favorite non-main character in THE FEARLESS, and why?
Am I allowed 3? I really like Ben, Gina and Cy, because they are all coping with the same dilemma in different ways and are strong, empathetic characters. I'd definitely want them on my side during the apocalypse! And Cy's tattoos are cool.

I have a Cy in my book with tattoos, too! *fist bumps Emma* My Cy is short for Cyrad. How about yours? Hooray! What a great name. My Cy is just Cy… he's a bit of a mystery to be honest!

Mysterious characters are always welcome! Ugh, we're out of tea. Have some filtered water instead? Okay, last question for the writers out there. What was the hardest part of writing THE FEARLESS, and how did you overcome your obstacle?
The beginning was tricky to get right, because it's told from the POV of the main character when she's just 10 years old – not a very conventional thing to do in a book aimed at older teens! I could have skimmed over this part and just had Cass remembering it in a few pages or so, but when I tried it this way it came across as rushed and shallow. I felt by making the part with 10-year-old Cass a section in its own right (the story then skips 7 years later to her present life on the island), it really showed the impact of the Invasion on her life, and what she (and a lot of other people) had lost, and why her little brother is so important to her. In the end, I had to trust my gut instinct and go with what felt right – and luckily, my editor agreed that this was exactly the right way to tell this part of the story.

That part really stuck out for me in the best way. You did young Cass's voice so well, I just wanted to hug her the whole time. Think you may ever venture into middle grade books someday, or other genres, for that matter?
Thank you - I'm so happy that you liked it! Actually, I would love to write for younger readers, but I'm still trying to muster up the courage to try it… maybe one day!

Thanks for interviewing me, Lydia! *clinks beaker of filtered water* D'you think we should go inside? It's kinda cold out here, and the Patrol are definitely giving us dirty looks now…

Yes, I'm freezing too! Let's go into the Meeting Hall before we get in trouble. :)

Thanks Emma, and everybody for joining us! 
Keep your sturdy boots on, and order Emma's THE FEARLESS on Amazon UK
or add to your Goodreads list! 

Friday, May 2, 2014

Write Club!

Hey guys! DL Hammons is having his annual Write Club event where you get to pit your own writing against other talented writers out there. I'm honored to be one of the judges for the finalists this year.

Learn more about the contest rules and schedule right here!