Monday, July 1, 2013

SINCE YOU ASKED… Releases!

My debut Y.A. novel is now out on the shelves! SINCE YOU ASKED… is the story of a high school sophomore who lands her own high school newspaper column after accidentally ripping her classmates to shreds. The book deals with friendships, boys, and her Korean American family. To help me celebrate, my lovely friend and fellow L.A. resident/Lucky, Brandy Colbert, interviewed me via gchat—I told her I would include animated gifs so there ya' go.

Brandy
Okay so first! congrats on the release of your debut novel, SINCE YOU ASKED!
Maurene
YAYY thanks!!
Brandy
How does it feel to have your book out in the world?
Maurene
It feels really good. I thought I'd be panicked and anxiety ridden as is my usual M.O., but I feel freeeee. Like, bye book, go out in the world and be freeeeee!

(My favorite K drama star—Lee Min Ho. You're welcome, ladies.)
Brandy
That sounds like the best-case scenario! And I'm so excited everyone will be able to read it now. One of the things I loved about your book was the diversity. Can you talk a bit about how your background shaped the novel?
Maurene
I grew up in Glendale, CA, which is one of the most diverse cities in LA, in my opinion. It's a VERY unique place where the minorities are the majority. And the minorities are mostly middle eastern, asian, and latino.
Brandy
I had no idea about Glendale, and I lived there for nine months, back in the aughts!
Maurene
Haha! Well one has to leave the home to see the people. (hehehehehe)
Brandy
TRUE. (Hermits forever!)
Maurene
So for me, different was normal? The high schools I saw on TV or depicted in books were NOT my high school. So in SYA, the high school is a blend of your typical diverse So Cal high school, a little more traditionally socially structured than mine, but still different from say, Sweet Valley High.
Brandy
Haha, yes! The series that basically made me want to move to California. And was there any significance in choosing San Diego for the setting?
Maurene
Yeah kind of! I went to college in San Diego and lived there for a year after I graduated so I have very fond memories of that city. And I wanted to have Holly live in a city that was in So Cal but NOT LA. I envisioned the beach and a little more accessibility for teens, so I decided on SD.
Brandy
Well, it totally worked for me. And then I became wildly jealous that I didn't grow up in San Diego with Holly and her friends. Speaking of her friends! I really liked that they were the focus of the novel more than, say, a love interest. Was that intentional, or did it just sort of happen as you kept writing?
Maurene
It was definitely intentional because so much of this book was based on my own high school experience—which was almost completely devoid of romance! HAHA. Except for the romance in my own sad brain.

Brandy
Ha! Same.
Maurene
And also, it was intentional because that's the story I wanted to tell—about how when you're 15 you're not exactly a romantic comedy heroine quite yet. I mean, you're still kind of a kid!
Brandy
I think plenty of people around Holly's age will be able to relate to her problems. Okay, let's talk family. It's a clear focus of the book, and I've seen you mention several times that your own family members may not be too happy with some similarities between themselves the fictional Kims.
Maurene
hehehe
Brandy
How difficult was it to draw from personal experience and still create a world that was wholly Holly Kim's and not Maurene 's?
Maurene
The writing process for this book was so organic that I think it was difficult for me to step back at a certain point and separate Holly Kim and me haha.
Brandy
Totally been there!
Maurene
I started this book solely for fun so I was very willy nilly about making characters almost exactly like my family. It was only later, like copyedits later, that I was like OMG Holly's parents have the exact same jobs as my parents. 
Brandy
Ha!! That, I did not know.
Maurene
They definitely aren't 100% my parents—they are 100% Korean parents that I knew. Mine, my cousin's, my friend's, all rolled up into 2 people. If people think they are a stereotype, I think maybe they've never met a Korean person.

Brandy
Were there any aspects of Korean culture you were pretty adamant about being in the book?
Maurene
I really wanted to mention the big family aspect because that is such a positive aspect of growing up Korean American, even though it's annoying when you're a teen, you really value it later. The Vegas story, too—so unique to kids of immigrants so I REALLY needed to tell that. In fact, might be my favorite section in the book.
Brandy
I really loved that part. I have a huge extended family, but we're spread out over the country, so it was nice to imagine what that might be like. Vegas!!That was definitely one of my favorite sections of the book. Were there regular family trips, growing up? Anything particularly memorable?
Maurene
Actually, my family wasn't huge on Vegas so that section was inspired by many of my friends who had to spend holidays there. Our family was big on camping which was always the highlight of summer because we went in a huge group. BUT we did spend one Christmas in Vegas—the year I started writing this book! So yes, that directly inspired that section. And I was so surprised by how fun it was?? I realized that I was super judgmental about families that went there for the holidays, hence Holly's own realization at the end of that section.
Brandy
Wow! This is so very cool to the girl who spent all holidays growing up in the Ozarks.
Maurene
Ozarks! I romanticize the Ozarks did you know that?
Brandy
NO. I did not know this was possible? Ha ha.
Maurene
Haha! I have intense nostalgia for a lot of America. Too much reading as a child ;)
Brandy
Well, it's also probably a case of not liking it as a kid and appreciating it more as an adult.
So, without giving too much away, the end of SYA sort of lends itself to more stories set in that world, at least to me. Do you have any more adventures planned for Holly? Or if not, would you be open to writing more about her world?
Maurene
I could write adventures for Holly until she becomes an old woman! It's the most fun, naturally effortless story for me to write, and I can't believe I get to do it! But yes, I'm hoping to write more stories about her...we'll see!!!!
Brandy
Fingers crossed over here!!
Brandy
Yessss. Okay, was there anything I didn't ask that you want to discuss about the book?
Or writing? Or being awesome in general, as you are?
Maurene
I do want to say that meeting you and the other Luckies has really made the biggest difference in my release year and I am SO GRATEFUL. Otherwise I'd be tweeting to 5 people and my family.
Brandy
Ha! Pretty much the same. Thanks for letting me interview you! An honor. <3
Maurene
THANK YOU


SINCE YOU ASKED is available at Amazon, B&N and your local indie bookstore!

Maurene Goo was born and raised in Los Angeles, California, where she navigated her childhood by practicing extreme bossy Lord-dom over her many cousins. She studied communication at the University of California, San Diego, and received a master's degree in publishing and writing at Emerson College. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and a very old cat. You can visit her online at www.maurenegoo.com.




Brandy Colbert was born and raised in the Ozarks—more specifically, Springfield, Missouri—and earned a Bachelors Degree in Journalism from Missouri State University. She moved to Los Angeles immediately after college, lived there for six years, then moved to Chicago where she lived through four brutal winters before she headed back to LA. Over the years she's worked at a big-box hardware retailer, as a magazine editor for various consumer and trade magazines, and as a business editor for a boutique investment banking firm. She currently works as a freelance magazine copy editor. She's a picky eater and a vegetarian in real life, but an adventurous foodie at heart. She tap dances. She's an avid fan of Degrassi, the Flintstones, Louis C.K., and Hello Kitty. Her writing is represented by Tina Wexler at ICM Partners. You can visit her online at brandycolbert.wordpress.com.

7 comments:

  1. I went to college in San Diego too! But the less prestigious San Diego State University. I wanted to be a cool UCSD kid, but alas, I'm an Aztec. But this book sounds right up my alley. I chose Huntington Beach, California for my debut sort of for the same reasons. It's not exactly L.A., but has great beach accessibility. Nice to meetcha!

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    2. (LOL I accidentally commented under my husband's account initially...baha)

      Hi Jessie! Oh, you SDSU kids were definitely cooler than us nerds at UCSD—our popular off campus hang out being the Ralphs/Starbucks plaza! So glad to meet you, too!

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  2. I have seen one Korean drama and it's Boys Over Flowers! I love that you wrote a Korean American lead for your novel. Looking forward to reading this.

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    1. That is a GREAT intro to K dramas! Lee Min Ho being dreamy and all ;) Thanks for your nice comment, I hope you enjoy Since You Asked!

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  3. Just discovered this book- I can't wait to read it! And yes, I do thank you for the Lee Min Ho bit. ^.^

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  4. Thanks, Joni! Hope you like it and when is Lee Min Ho's next drama coming out?? In withdrawal here.

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