Okay so I have a confession to make. About the majority of this interview was predone. I was under a lot of stress and I just couldn't find the time to think of some questions, so I apologize. Obviously I will never ever do this again, however, I did manage to come up with some questions in a few minutes before I caved.
About the Author
Lisa Yee was born and raised near Los Angeles and grew up loving to read. She attended the University of Southern California, where she majored in English and Humanities. Lisa has been an associate director of a creative think tank and co-owner and creative director of Magic Pencil Studios, a strategic creative company. She has written and directed creative projects for Fortune 500 clients and led creativity seminars. Yee’s novel Millicent Min, Girl Genius is winner of the prestigious Sid Fleischman Humor Award; her second novel, Stanford Wong Flunks Big-Time, won the Chinese American Librarian Association Best Book of the Year Award. Lisa lives in South Pasadena, California, with her husband, Scott, and her two children, Benny and Kate.
Q: Can you talk about the genesis of Absolutely Maybe? Why did you want to write the book?
A: It began with a title, Charm School Dropout. I was curious about what it would be like to be the goth-ish tomboy daughter of a diva-esque ex- beauty queen. But as I started writing, the story evolved and became more complex and deeper in scope than I had first anticipated. It also changed from a lighter middle grade novel to a darker, though still humorous, YA novel. Having written middle grade novels before, it was quite liberating to write without constraints. I have a teenaged daughter and while working on Absolutely Maybe, I kept her in mind as my reader.
Q: How did the character of Maybe develop? Did she evolve as you developed the story or was she clear in the beginning?
A: Maybe, who's named after Maybelline cosmetics, came to me all at once. I really felt like I knew her, though she did reveal herself even more as I began writing. She presents such a hard exterior, but inside she's still very much a little girl looking for love and stability. I always write my endings first, so I knew where I was going. Only, I wasn't sure how I'd get there. But because Maybe was such a strong presence, I let her take the lead and show me the way.
Q: What was the most difficult part (or character) in the story to write and why?
A: It was hard to write Chessy, Maybe's mom, because she makes so many bad choices. She hurts Maybe repeatedly and appears to be the total opposite of her daughter. Yet, there had to be something redeeming about her to make Maybe's feelings about her mother be so strong and conflicted. Chessy was also very over-the-top in her beauty queen way, yet I knew I also had to make her vulnerable and sympathetic to round her out.
Q: What themes in the story do you hope resonate the most with teens and why?
A: When I begin writing I always assign a word to my main character. It reminds me of who they are and what they are looking for. With Maybe, her word was aimless. As the story began, she was sort of meandering and, even though she didn't realize it, she was looking for her identity. Maybe had an inner strength that she was not aware of. She had the ability to affect other people's lives for the better, but couldn't see it. Many teens doubt themselves. They underestimate their power, but it's there. It's there.
Q: Which character do you like the best in the story and why? the least?
A: I absolutely love Ted. OMG, he was sooooo fun to write. I had to be careful, though, or else he would have run away with the book. I'd sit and laugh out loud whenever I was writing scenes he was in. But like with all outrageous characters, I knew that Ted probably was very introspective too. Sometimes bravado can hide something. And it was wonderful leaving clues about the real Ted. As for the character I liked the least, I think that would be Gunnar. The way he treated Maybe was awful, but she had to meet him in order to move on with the rest of her life. The way he was, and their meeting, also put her relationship with her mother into perspective.
Q1: Under what animal were you born under?
A1: I was born during the year of the pig. Oink.
Q2: Do you think this describes your personality well? If not, which animal do you think you should have been born under?
A2: Hmmmm . . . well, there are aspects of the pig that I feel describe me, like loyal and thoughtful. However, I can identify with the horse more. I mean, the horse is quick-witted, perceptive, agile mentally and physically, open-minded and astute. Who wouldn't want to be those things?
You can visit Lisa at her blog, or her website.
Again, the publishers and Lisa was kind enough to donate an ARC of her latest book Absolutely Maybe!
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