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Got the urge to be a writer?
Lisa Yee Interviews Lisa Yee
Q. What made you decide to be an author?
A. Great question, Lisa. I've wanted to be an author ever since I could read. I have always loved books. There's nothing more wonderful than getting lost in a great story. So when I was kid, I thought, "This is what I want to do." However, it took me YEARS to finally see my dream come true.
Q. Is it true you were once a supermodel?
A. I have never been a supermodel (yet), but I've had lots of different jobs--all involving words. I was an advertising copywriter, a journalist, a creative director, a television writer, and more. (See my bio.)
Q. Where do you get your ideas/inspiration?
A. Wow, that's really hard to say. I guess they come from everywhere. Some just hit me on the side of the head (ouch) when I least expect it. Others might be brewing in my brain for weeks, months, or even years. I like to observe whatever's going on around me. I watch. I listen. I take notes. And often the germ of an idea will sprout from that--not that my writing is germy.
Q. Why did you write MILLICENT MIN, GIRL GENIUS?
A. I was interested in writing about a girl who was lonely. I also wondered what it would be like to be 11-years old and a senior in college. It took me over six years to write Millicent's story. I actually wrote two versions of the novel that I completely threw away, keeping only the main character.
Q. How did STANFORD WONG FLUNK BIG-TIME come about?
A. My daughter was 10-years old at the time the idea came to me. She hated boys. (That changed when she hit high school.) So I thought I would write a book about a boy to show here that they are human, too. Then I remembered Millicent's arch enemy and it was like BOOM! That's it! I will write a book about Stanford, it will take place the same summer as Millicent's story, only it will be entirely from Stanford's (very different) point of view.
Q. Have you always been weird?
A. Is it faster to New York or by train?
Q. Did you plan to write a trilogy ending with SO TOTALLY EMILY EBERS?
A. A lot of fans asked for one, so it made sense to me to complete the trilogy. Same summer, once more, but this time from Millie's best friend's point of view. I should point out that the books stand alone. By that I mean, you can just read one or two or all three, they are not dependent on each other. And it doesn't matter what order you read the books in.
Q.Will there be more books about Millicent, Stanford, and Emily?
A. My most recent book is called WARP SPEED and it's about Marley Sandelski, a Star Trek geek from Stanford’s novel. Millie, Emily, and Stanford make appearances in the book, along with Digger. This novel takes place during the next school year and is a spin-off from the others.
Q. Say, Lisa, what else have you written?
A. I've written three American Girl books. There's GOOD LUCK, IVY, plus the 2011 Girl of the Year books, ALOHA, KANANI and GOOD JOB, KANANI. BTW, Lisa, not sure if you know this, but I had to go to Hawaii to research Kanani's stories. Yes, I am that dedicated.
Q. Is it true that you once had a piece of broccoli come out of your ear?
A. No, no, no, that's just a rumor. The broccoli actually came out of my nose.
Q. What’s ABSOLUTELY MAYBE about?
A. It's about a girl who's sort of goth. Her mother runs a charm school for beauty pageant contestants. When some bad things happen, Maybe runs away to Hollywood to find the father who doesn't even know she exists. This book is written for teens.
Q.Why did you write BOBBY VS. GIRLS (ACCIDENTALLY) and BOBBY THE BRAVE (SOMETIMES)?
A. Fourth grade can be fun and frustrating, and I wanted to write about a boy who has to navigate through those waters. This is the first of a new series, illustrated by my friend Dan Santat. He has a show on the Disney Channel called THE REPLACEMENTS and Dan's sublime graphic novel is called SIDEKICKS.
Q. Why did you write WARP SPEED?
A. CLICK HERE and watch the video to find out.
Q. What do you like to do in your spare time?
A. Oh, Lisa! You crack me up. You know I don't have any.
Q. What are some of your favorite books?
A. Oooooh, I have sooooo many. HERE are a few.
Q. What do you like to do in your spare time?
A. I love to read, and to eat chocolate, and make crafty things. Not crafty as in "sneaky," but crafty as in paper-scissors-glue that sort of stuff.
Q. How long does it take to write a book?
A. My first book took six years to write. Now though, it takes me about a year. Sometime longer, sometimes less.
Q. What are your views (and other authors' views) on diversity in children's literature?
A. Check out the video below to find out.
Q. Where are the interviews that tell all?
A. There. Right there, to the right, near that page from Stanford Wong's novel. Honestly, Lisa, sometimes I think you're not paying attention. Hello? Lisa, are you still there?
Curious about how Lisa writes? Watch this . . .
CLICK HERE FOR LISA'S FAVORITE BOOKS
WANT TO BE AN AUTHOR?
Q. What advice do you have for people (as opposed to giraffes) who want to be an author?
A. Read, read, read, write, read, write, write, and then read some more. Really. In order to be a good writer, you must also be a good reader. By reading as much as possible, you can start to see what types of stories draw you in the most. You'll also start seeing patterns in terms of what kinds of characters you identify with. Usually, this is the type of story you yourself may want to tell. And then you have to write. A lot. The more you write, the easier it becomes.
Don't make things too hard on yourself by saying things like, "I will write a bestselling book!" How about bite-sized goals, like "This month I will start a story and write five pages."
Unfortunately, I cannot read any writing that people send to me. However, I would encourage you to share your ideas with your teachers and librarian. They can give you advice and steer you toward books and magazines about writing.
Q. What's the SCBWI?
A. That's the acronym for The Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. With about 20,000 members, this professional organizations holds conferences, writing workshops and more for any adult who is interested in writing or illustrating books for children and young adults. You can find out more by Clicking Here.
Q. Do you use any writing programs?
A. Yes, I use Scrivener to write all my novels. (It helps organize me. Here's Part One and Part Two of an interview I did with the creator. And here's what it looks like . . .
Q. Do you outline your novels.
A. Always, always, always. Um, that would be a "yes."
Q. How long does it take you to write a book?
A. These days, the first draft can take anywhere from three months to a year.
Q. You probably get asked this all the time, but do you have a cute photo of your dog writing?
A. My dog is not as good a writer as she thinks she is. Here she is procrastinating . . .
Check out these painless links for more stuff . . .
Scholastic has videos, interviews and information about Lisa, HERE.
For a recent in-depth interview at PaperTigers, click here.
Find out more about the BOBBY books and WARP SPEED by clicking here.
Good stuff about Millicent, Stanford, and Emily can be found HERE.
Here's an in-depth interview about Lisa's books and how she became an author.
Shhh . . . it's Seven Secret Things you didn't know about Lisa are HERE.
It's a Q and A over on the Girl Scout's site, HERE.
More about ABSOLUTELY MAYBE and Lisa's life as an author are HERE.
HERE'S a Skype interview with Lisa!
Wanna hear Lisa talk about Lisa on public radio? Then CLICK HERE.
DoSomething.org interview is HERE.
Q. Thank you, Lisa. You were so kind to spend the time answering my questions. But what if I have more?
A. Well, Lisa, there are lots of links to interviews I've done over the years. All the answers to any more questions can probably be found there.