Welcome to Diversify 2017! Diversify 2017 is a series of interviews and guest posts centering around books that I’m especially looking forward to and that I think truly represent the diversity movement that’s been shaping up these past couple of years. Today TSW’s featuring the Korean drama version of a book (RIGHT?) called
Release Date: May 30th, 2017
Desi Lee knows how carburetors work. She learned CPR at the age of five. As a high school senior, she has never missed a day of school and has never had a B in her entire life. She’s for sure going to Stanford. But—she’s never had a boyfriend. In fact, she’s a disaster in romance, a clumsy, stammering humiliation-magnet whose botched attempts at flirting have become legendary with her friends. So when the hottest human specimen to have ever lived walks into her life one day, Desi decides to tackle her flirting failures with the same zest she’s applied to everything else in her life. She finds her answer in the Korean dramas her father has been obsessively watching for years—where the hapless heroine always seems to end up in the arms of her true love by episode ten. It’s a simple formula, and Desi is a quick study. Armed with her “K Drama Rules for True Love,” Desi goes after the moody, elusive artist Luca Drakos—and boat rescues, love triangles, and fake car crashes ensue. But when the fun and games turn to true feels, Desi finds out that real love is about way more than just drama.
Description taken from Goodreads.
What do you love most about I Believe in a Thing Called Love?
I love that I essentially got to write my own version of a k drama. It’s my homage to them, which I’ve watched since I was a little kid. It was always a connection to my Korean roots, a way for my parents and I to spend some quality time together without any angst or bickering, which was rare when I was a teen!
A close second is the sweet and funny relationship between Desi and her dad!
What dramas did you watch in researching for this novel?
OMG I watched SO many because this book was actually formed in my mind years before it sold. So, technically, I was “researching” for a long time, haha. And the research is what brought me back to the k drama world, I hadn’t watched them regularly in years. The first one that brought me back was Boys Over Flowers and other memorable ones were City Hunter, Secret Garden, Prosecutor Princess, Coffee Prince, Healer, Personal Taste, It’s Okay That’s Love, Pasta, Answer Me 1997, Oh My Ghostess, The King 2 Hearts, Rooftop Prince, My Love From Another Star, and My Girlfriend is a Gumiho. Sigh, so many gems.
What’s your favorite gif from your favorite drama?
Oh, be still my heart, of course it’s from Healer, which is maybe my favorite drama. When Healer pretends to have no fighting skills and lets Young-Shin believe she saved him, and he has this little smile as he runs behind her.
What are the biggest differences between Holly from your debut novel, Since You Asked, and Desi in I Believe in a Thing Called Love? Similarities?
They are very different characters in how they view their current places in life, as teens. Holly’s kind of a cynic about the world and high school, and a little shy and happy to sit in the wings—complaining but not really doing anything about it. Desi is preternaturally optimistic about the world, truly believing that she can make anything happen with hard work, and she’s happy to lead and take on responsibilities. They’re very similar in their self-deprecation and ability to keep a sense of humor despite everything. I think those qualities are very Korean, actually, which might be why both Holly and Desi have that similarity (both are Korean American). They also both really value their friendships and are very loyal to the people they care about. This also isn’t a coincidence—my friendships were life-saving to me as a teen.
Without spoilers, what’s one of your favorite lines or scenes from I Believe in a Thing Called Love?
One of my most favorite chapters is when Desi stages a love triangle and pretends to like one of her best friends, Wes. They have this moment in a closet where they’re pretending to make out, and it cracks me up every time.
What advice would you give to aspiring #ownvoices authors?
Well, it’s similar to advice I’d give to any aspiring author: Keep writing, don’t let self-doubt or publishing “trends” deter you. Except in this case, I am cheering you on 100 x harder because I want to see more #ownvoices books out there. I wrote my first book before a lot of these discussions on diversity were happening, and one of my biggest mental hurdles was thinking, “No one will want to buy this book because there’s a Korean American main character.” I’m thrilled that the publishing landscape has changed—but there’s still so much more we can do. So keep writing! That’s literally the only thing you can control in this entire journey.
What diverse read(s) are you most looking forward to in 2017?
There are SO many good ones coming out this year! Brandy Colbert’s Little & Lion, Samantha Mabry’s All the Wind in the World, Sandhya Menon’s When Dimple Met Rishi, Adi Alsaid’s North of Happy, Steph Kuehn’s When I am Through With You, Cindy Pon’s Want, and some that are out already but on my to-read list: Lilliam Rivera’s The Education of Margot Sanchez and Ibi Zoboi’s American Street.
Maurene Goo grew up in a Los Angeles suburb surrounded by floral wallpaper and piles of books. She studied communication at UC San Diego and then later received a Masters in publishing, writing, and literature at Emerson College. Before publishing her first book, Since You Asked, she worked in both textbook and art book publishing. She also has very strong feelings about tacos and houseplants and lives in Los Angeles.
— Eli Madison (@thesilverwords) March 24, 2017
Thanks so much to Maurene for doing this post! I refrained from answering (gushing) directly to the questions, but seriously so many drama gems were watched in the writing of this book. Rooftop Prince, Secret Garden, and Coffee Prince make my top ten. I also loved My Girlfriend is a Gumiho; It’s Okay, That’s Love; and Answer Me 1997. With this kind of effort, you have to check the book out. Be sure to keep up with it on social media by following Maurene at the links above, and make sure to enter into the giveaways! Tomorrow’s author will be Axie Oh.