YA book reviews, reading and recommending since 2009

Today I am please to present to you Malinda Lo, author of Ash which is a nominee for the Andre Norton Award, was a finalist for the 2010 William C. Morris Award, and was a Kirkus Best Young Adult Novel of 2009. It was also a book I loved.

What’s one of your favorite first sentences from one of your favorite books?
Ha! You are sneaky, taking a question from my own First Sentence Tour (I’m interviewing authors about their favorite first sentences all year on my blog). However, since I came up with the question, I can’t deny it’s a good one. 🙂 Here’s my answer:

“I saw him for the first time at the funeral.”
— From A Ring of Endless Light by Madeleine L’Engle

Why was it your favorite?
This book has been one of my favorites since I was 12. I reread it a few years ago and realized that this novel deals with many of the themes I find cropping up in my own fiction, specifically mortality and spirituality.

I like this first sentence because it immediately places us in a setting full of drama and emotion: a funeral. Significantly, the whole book is about life and the end of it, so it’s very appropriate that it begins at this place. The sentence also makes the reader wonder who this “him” is and why the narrator would remember meeting him at a funeral, which creates a sense of suspense right away.

If someone told you 20 years ago that you would be a published author, what would your reaction be?
Well, 20 years ago I was 15, and I had already had my first poem published in a magazine (it was about my cat, Fluffy). So I would probably have said in my annoying know-it-all teenage voice, “Duh.”

But seriously, underneath that semblance of cool (which would have been totally fake), I would have been jumping up and down with excitement.

If you could meet one author, living or dead, who would it be?
Louisa May Alcott, for sure. She wrote Little Women, among other books, which was one of the first novels I read and loved.

If you could go back in time and tell your 16-year-old self a piece of advice, what would it be?
Man, this is tough, because if I had known what I know now, I probably wouldn’t have turned out to be the person I am. Going through lots of difficult situations has made me learn so much about myself and other people. So while it’s tempting to tell my 16-year-old self about things to avoid, I guess I would just say this: “Don’t worry about high school. It’ll be over soon, and the rest of your life is going to kick ass in so many ways you will never expect.”

Do you have any advice you like to give to aspiring young authors?
I really encourage young writers to simply enjoy the heck out of what they’re writing. Have fun with your storytelling! Don’t be afraid to try out new genres (explore sci fi, or write a mystery story), or new styles of writing (first person, third person, bubbly, sardonic). Basically, this is your time to play with writing. Only by playing will you figure out what your voice is, and what kinds of stories you most love to tell.

Kirkus described Ash as “an unexpected reimagining of the Cinderella tale, exquisite and pristine, unfolding deliberately.” Ultimately, what would you like people to take away from your book?
You know, I just hope that readers find a way to connect with the story in Ash. For me, that’s what writing is about: making that connection. Every reader will connect with a book differently, and some won’t connect with it at all. All of those are valid responses to a book.

Is there anything else you would like to add?
Thanks for the interview! I enjoyed the questions. 🙂


Comments on: "Interview with Malinda Lo!" (3)

  1. Your cover is very striking. Did you have any input to the design?

  2. Thanks for sharing this interview with us, Kate! I thought Ash was a gorgeous book and I’m really looking forward to Malinda Lo’s future work.

  3. I’ve recently gotten really into retellings of fairy-tales, so I’m thrilled to learn about this book! Thanks for the post.

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