TBF is a month and TWO days away! Can you believe it?! I chatted with Gloria Chao, author of AMERICA PANDA. Take a look:
Miranda Reads: AMERICAN PANDA is your first YA novel. What is it about?
Gloria Chao: AMERICAN PANDA follows a seventeen-year-old MIT freshman whose traditional Taiwanese parents want her to become a doctor and marry a preapproved Taiwanese Ivy Leaguer. Problem is, she hates germs, falls asleep in her biology classes, and has a crush on her Japanese classmate, who is decidedly not Taiwanese.
Miranda Reads: What was the inspiration behind AMERICAN PANDA?
Gloria Chao: I wrote this book when I switched careers from dentist to writer and was having a hard time communicating with my parents. I wanted to write the book that I needed in that moment and also the book I needed as a teen. Just like my protagonist, Mei, I had a different vision for my life than my parents, and I needed to find the strength to pursue my dreams and communicate with my parents.
I hope American Panda can show readers that they aren’t alone, that it’s okay to not feel wholly one thing or another, and that cultural gaps can be difficult. I wanted to capture the struggles I went through as a teen that were difficult to explain to my friends, and I wanted to write a character that was relatable to many but also specific enough to show a window into another world. I also wanted readers to know that things can get better, as they did for me in real life.
Miranda Reads: What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Gloria Chao: Write the story only you can tell. Write for yourself first, then let everyone else in during revisions. And find your writing community so you have the support you need.
And to improve craft, read as much as you can! The library is a wonderful resource, and reading across genres and age categories will help you learn what to do and what not to do.
Miranda Reads: What was your favorite book as a teen? Why?
Gloria Chao: In my teens, I unfortunately wasn’t reading very much. My family stressed math and science growing up, and by high school, my love for reading and writing had fallen by the wayside to make room for the likes of BC Calculus and AP chemistry. I found my way back to reading in dental school, where young adult books were my one escape from a tough environment in which I didn’t really fit. I started with the popular books: Harry Potter, Twilight, Hunger Games, and eventually discovered to my true love of YA contemporary. Angie Thomas, Nicola Yoon, David Arnold, Jenny Han, Adam Silvera, and Becky Albertalli are some of my favorite authors in this genre, and I highly recommend their books!
Miranda Reads: Which TBF Author are you most excited to meet this year?
Gloria Chao: TBF has an all-star lineup that I’m honored to be a part of it, and really, I am excited to meet everyone. If I had to pick just one, I’m very excited to meet Dana Mele, who is a fellow Electric Eighteen and Class2K18 member, and her book, People Like Us, is one of my most anticipated! I already feel like I know Dana, and it will be so wonderful to finally meet in person!
Thank you so much, Gloria! We can't wait to meet you in May!
You can purchase AMERICAN PANDA at Barnes and Noble or Amazon (Be sure to use Amazon Smile and make the Greater Rochester Teen Book Festival your charitable event) or check it out at your local library!
That's it for today! Be sure to check out the blog again for more author interviews, book reviews, and fun posts!