posted at Wednesday, December 17th, 2014 at 8:00 AM | Interviews
Katie’s cover was revealed last Friday on Barnes & Noble, so this isn’t precisely a reveal. When Katie asked me if I wanted to do a re-reveal of sorts, I was game though because she’s a friend and I’m very excited about her book. Plus, the gifs I can use. Also, have you seen it? It’s adorbs and I am totally willing to post it on my site. And Katie’s awesome. Connect with her on Twitter if you want or on her blog!
For those that don’t know Katie’s debut novel is slated to come out June 2015 from St. Martin’s Griffin. Let me show you the cover and share the blurb from Goodreads:
A teen escapes to a boarding school abroad and falls for a Korean pop star in this fun and fresh romantic novel in the vein of Anna and the French Kiss.
Grace Wilde is running—from the multi-million dollar mansion her record producer father bought, the famous older brother who’s topped the country music charts five years in a row, and the mother who blames her for her brother’s breakdown. Grace escapes to the farthest place from home she can think of, a boarding school in Korea, hoping for a fresh start.
She wants nothing to do with music, but when her roommate Sophie’s twin brother Jason turns out to be the newest Korean pop music superstar, Grace is thrust back into the world of fame. She can’t stand Jason, whose celebrity status is only outmatched by his oversized ego, but they form a tenuous alliance for the sake of her friendship with Sophie. As the months go by and Grace adjusts to her new life in Korea, even she can’t deny the sparks flying between her and the KPOP idol.
Soon, Grace realizes that her feelings for Jason threaten her promise to herself that she’ll leave behind the music industry that destroyed her family. But can Grace ignore her attraction to Jason and her undeniable pull of the music she was born to write? Sweet, fun, and romantic, this young adult novel explores what it means to experience first love and discover who you really are in the process.
I’m very happy to have Katie here today so we can talk about her debut novel and some of the inspiration for it. Most of you might not know that Katie and I bonded over YA novels and, more importantly kdrama.
Katie, can you tell us how you first discovered kdrama?
Sure. I was in China teaching English during the summer between my junior and senior years of college. Some friends and I were hanging out in town when we decided to visit a video shop to laugh at the horrible quality of the pirated American DVDS (as you do). While we were there, though, we found this Korean DVD that looked hilarious. We bought it just for lulz. When we started watching it, though, we realized it was a show, a Korean drama. And after two episodes, I was hooked. I went home and YouTubed the rest of that drama, and then began devouring others. I’ve had an addiction ever since.
Which kdramas do you most recommend?
Oh man, tough question! There are so many I love. If you want to cry, I’d recommend My Love from Another Star or my first drama, 49 Days. If you want romance-y feels, I’d go with Answer Me 1997, Big, or Rooftop Prince. City Hunter is my favorite action drama, and the best for man eye-candy (IMHO) are Monstar, Heirs, and Heartstrings. (If you can’t swoon over Kim Woo Bin, Kang Ha Neul, Jung Yong Hwa, I think you must be soulless.) And there are so many other amazing ones.
I finally watched My Love from Another Star, and people were so right about that one. Also, though I know you don’t like it, Katie, I’m going to plug Coffee Prince again because reasons.
Okay, okay, I’ll give you that one. It *does* have Gong Yoo in it… 😉
How much did you draw from kdrama versus research of life in Korea for Hello, I Love You?
Good question! Practical things like geography, language, and culture all came from research. The bits I drew from kdrama were more like easter eggs for my readers who might be drama-lovers. (EPIC HAND HOLDING SCENE, ANYONE?)
Yes, please! Can we also hope for some reverse hug action?
I can’t reveal all my secrets! But I’ll admit to including a wrist-grab just because every kdrama ever has one and I thought it appropriate. Hah!
I’ll take an arm grab scene.
What elements of Korean drama do you think can add something special or new to young adult fiction?
I love how kdramas celebrate and chronicle the slow progression of a relationship. It doesn’t go straight to love, and they don’t skip straight to the “exciting” parts—they make all the stages exciting. It’s about the slow-burn romance, which I love. Hand holding and stolen glances and meeting your significant other’s family can be just as juicy as kissing. I think YA could really learn something from kdrama about romance and how to portray it. Obviously, there are some incredible romances in YA, but there’s just something magical about a kdrama romance that I would love to see really captured in YA.
I completely agree. The feels I have while watching kdrama are completely unparalleled. They manipulate your emotions expertly. The amount that I squeal and flail and yell at my tv is scarcely to be believed.
Right?! Me too! And you know they’re going to get together in the end, but in the middle, you don’t see how that’s even possible…but you love every second of the agony.
What kpop or kdrama star have you fancast as your male lead?
How did I know this would come up? 😉 I’ve made no secret that my ultimate fancast is Jung Yong Hwa, actor and lead singer of the kpop band CN BLUE. Every description of my male lead was written with him in mind. And I have zero shame in admitting it. Hah! I told a reader about my vision for the character after she’d read it, and she thought the character didn’t look like him at all, which made me laugh. I don’t mind people seeing him however they want, but that’s what he looks like in my head.
Here’s Katie’s guy
And here he is in her dreams. 😉
I might picture Choi Si Won
Or Lee Jong Hyun.
Were you thinking of a particular kpop group’s sound when writing Jason?
Definitely CN BLUE but also FTISLAND.
I know you also listen to kpop. Do you want to recommend a couple of favorite songs to those who haven’t listened to any before?
Yes, I love kpop! There are tons of great groups out there, but some of my favorite girl groups are 2NE1, Girls’ Generation, and Miss A. My go-to boy bands are BIGBANG, Teen Top, and CN BLUE. My favorite single artists would be Jay Park and Seungri’s solo stuff, when he’s not with BIGBANG.
And really, there’s nothing better than a kpop music video, with the neon colors, extravagent wardrobes, and epic dance numbers. Evidence:
How did you celebrate when you saw that you’d gotten a completely adorable cover without whitewashing?
I mentioned this is the B&N post, but I legitimately cried. And I’m not a crier. I was convinced my Korean boy wouldn’t be on the cover simply because of his race, so I was incredibly, pleasantly surprised to see him there. I’m so grateful to St. Martin’s for creating such a beautiful, racially diverse cover.
Can you tell us what you’re working on next, Katie?
Sure! I’ve already written another contemporary set in Asia about a girl struggling with an interracial relationship, as well as some mistakes she made in the past.
I also have a high fantasy I’m very excited about. The worldbuilding is very Moroccan, and I stretched myself a lot with writing characters very different than any other’s I’ve written before. And three words: FLYING SAND SHIPS. Gah, I love that manuscript…
That all sounds amazing Katie. I wants.
Thanks for the interview, Christina! I can’t wait for people to get to read the book!
If you want to preorder Katie’s debut, Hello, I Love You, here are some places to do that: