Let the Party Begin!
Happy to be here!
Do tell. What inspired you to write The Unbeatable Lily Hong?
It would have meant the world to me to read a book like The Unbeatable Lily Hong when I was a kid! Like my main character Lily, I was a Chinese-American kid who was good at school and into nerdy fandom stuff. Another similarity that I share with Lily is that I also went to Chinese school and did competitive Chinese dance. But those things made me an outsider when I was a kid, so I wanted to write a story about a Chinese-American girl whose differences and interests make her nuanced, irresistibly fun, and unbeatable.
Sounds like a story all kids could relate to, and that you had fun writing this book!
The Unbeatable Lily Hong was so much fun to write! Drawing on my own interests while creating Lily, her friends, and her family, I got to immerse myself in Chinese mythology, school competition, debates about the best dumplings (Lily’s mom makes the best dumplings, duh). Plus, there's a tween frenemy/maybe-more-than-friends dynamic, which I would have loved to have read as a kid.
"A delightfully adventerous romp with a lovably scrappy protagonist." Kirkus Reviews
My revision process was surprisingly smooth! I say “surprisingly” because I usually agonize over revisions, but The Unbeatable Lily Hong was just so much fun to write that it didn’t feel like it took a lot of time or energy to revise. However, when I look at my drafts, I can see a lot actually did change.
I was fortunate enough to work with two great editors! Angela Song was my first editor for the bulk of my editing process. Then Alessandra Preziosi took over when Angela left Clarion. I found Angela’s insights to be completely spot-on, and I was happy to say that it was the same with Alex. I also had so much fun bonding with Angela over similar childhood experiences as she edited my book!
Having an amazing editor step in when an amazing editor steps out sounds like a blessing to be sure! What skill sets did they have that impressed you?
I was most impressed by how they gave feedback that made the story much stronger while still trusting me with the direction of the story. It’s not always easy to balance the author’s vision with needed developmental edits, but they both did it beautifully! I am so grateful to have worked with such brilliant and genuinely lovely editors.
We bet they were mutually pleased when working with you! I really love your cover, by the way. Were you pleased when you first saw it?
Ooh! I cannot gush enough about this amazing cover by Rebecca W. Chan. It’s so fun and vibrant. I cannot wait to see it on the shelf of my local indie, and more importantly, in the hands of young readers.
That will be the icing on the cake! Well thank you for stopping by and for sharing a little behind-the-scenes talk about The Unbeatable Lily Hong.