Keiko is the one who pushed me to read Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon. I had requested it, but didn’t get around to reading it until she started hounding me. And by the time I was done, I was so in love with the story. Thankfully, Keiko knew that Nicola was going to have her launch party at Vroman’s. So obviously we were going.
Keiko picked me up at 12:30 and we headed up to Glendale so we could stop and get macarons. We had lunch and got cookies and then finished the drive up to Vroman’s.
Nicola and her husband got to the store just before 6pm and set up all sorts of goodies. They had wine and macarons and the most adorable cookies with the book cover on them.
The event started at 6:45 and Nicola talked about the writing.
I’ve wanted to be a writer forever. I actually found a journal that I wrote when I was young and in it, I said I wanted to write. But I forgot. I was good at math and it led me astray.
This book started when my daughter was young. I wrote between 4-6 am. I wrote from the need to protect her. I wondered what would happen for a girl who had to be protected. The book is for my daughter and the need for diverse books. I’m Jamaican American and my husband is Korean American and I wanted to be able to have my daughter see herself in a book.
Love is a beautiful thing and the potential for loss is so great. My heart walks outside of my body. My daughter goes to preschool and my husband goes to work they are my entire heart. So the book is about love and the risks and what someone would risk for it.
Nicola then read a passage and her husband illustrated part of the scene.
I wanted Maddy to draw her world. She’s obsessed with Hawaii and I’m obsessed with Hawaii. I wanted the Hawaiian state fish to be a part of it, but I can’t draw so I woke up my husband at 4am and asked him to draw it.
How long did it take to write?
It took 2 1/2 years to write. I quit my job and I figured I would be able to write during normal hours, but I can’t. So I’m back to writing at 4-6.
When you hit a wall, what kept you going?
Life gets comfortable and I sort of forgot about my dream. I knew I wanted to do it, but didn’t want to at the same time. I didn’t want to work in finance any more and that was a huge motivator.
What are you working on now?
I got a 2 book deal with Random House and turned in my first draft in August and I refuse to look at emails until October.
You write in moleskines?
Yes. I write in long hand. I’ve tried to change this and I can’t. I tried to spend some time typing and it didn’t work. I tend to edit myself less when I’m actually writing it out. And every three days, I’ll type it.
Where do you write?
I’m my office. There aren’t a lot of places open at 4am. I can edit in cafes.
How did it work with David?
We went to grad school together. He reads everything I’ve done. For the book, I would draw a crappy version of what I wanted and then he would make me something beautiful. If you even saw my pictures, you wouldn’t know what it was.
How do you keep the structure?
I have a loose outline. I tend to deviate, but at least I have something. I also have an outtakes file. I could never be a pantser, but I can’t stick to a strict outline either.
How easy or hard was it to get published?
I sort of had a magical experience. My agents are awesome. My road to publishing was different since I had 22 years in finance.
Can you tell us about the movie?
I can’t. There is a writer attached. Knock on wood, you guys. If the book does well, we have a chance. Lots of books get options, but not made.
How was it writing your second book while promoting your first?
It was torture. It was miserable. When you write the first book, there’s no feedback. It’s a luxury to write. For the second book, there are reviews coming from Amazon and Goodreads and trade reviews and it gets loud in your head.
Have you seen the fish in person?
I have! Turns out it’s the state fish because it’s everywhere.
Do you prefer to write romance?
I really believe in love, so I tend to write about it. I do have an idea for something with no love and all death.
Will you ever incorporate math?
There is some math in this book. I loved programming, it’s a part of me. What I didn’t love about corporate America is the politics.
What is something surprising about publishing?
The whole thing has been surprising. I didn’t plan to make so many great friends. Everything takes so long. I sold this book 2 years ago and it just came out.
Will your heritage come in any future books?
Book 2 has a Jamaican girl and a Korean boy. We had some relatives just here and I realized that some of my writing cadence was rooted in the fact that I grew up in Jamaica.
Can you talk about diversity?
I’m part of We Need Diverse books and it’s about getting YA books to reflect the diverse world we live in. We need agents and publisher and authors to work on it. There are so many beautiful people and books should reflect that.
The signing started after that and as I stood up to be first, some guy swooped me and then had no idea what he was doing. I got up to Nicola and I told her who I was on Twitter. She laughed and for up and said we needed to hug. So we did. We also took a photo and she thanked me for all of my support and I generally flailed about.
Keiko made the rounds to say goodbye to the friends she knew and I said bye to Allison and Alison. And then somehow I started chatting with some strangers in line and actually gave out one of my business cards for the blog. *gasp*
Nicola is delightful and her family is the most adorable thing I’ve ever seen. If you haven’t read Everything, Everything, you need to drop what you’re doing and start it immediately.