I’m thrilled to kick off the first episode of 2018 with one of our long-time listeners, Gloria Chao! Gloria is an MIT grad turned dentist turned writer and her debut American Panda releases on February 6th.
In today’s episode, we discuss the traditional roles of women and the family values ingrained in the Taiwanese culture. Gloria walks us through the details of her revision process and the most important thing she learned about revisions. We also talk about crafting the main character’s voice, the most exciting thing that’s happened during her debut year, and the difficulties she faced trying to market a YA book set in college. We touch on the inspiration for American Panda’s cover design, how much input Gloria had with the design process, and how one of the details inspired Gloria to tweak a part of her story.
We’ve got some exciting things for you below, like an exclusive excerpt from American Panda just for our 88 Cups of Tea community and an adorable cartoon to go along with the excerpt. For our writers, look out for Gloria’s writing prompt at the bottom of this page– Also exclusive for our listeners! If you’re particularly stuck with writer’s block, you’ll want to grab your copy of the prompt.
Gloria is also launching our very first Instagram story takeover today, on February 1st. You’ll get a sneak peek of her life as a writer and one lucky winner will receive a signed copy of “American Panda”. To enter for a chance to win, be sure to look out for Gloria’s announcement of her giveaway on her Instagram story takeover and reply to that story by tapping the heart button. You have exactly 24 hours to enter from the time that story is first posted so you’ll want to act fast.
I couldn’t be more ecstatic to kick off 2018 with Gloria’s episode, happy listening!
PS. If you enjoyed this episode, I’d really love your support in growing our community by subscribing to us on iTunes, and leaving a rating and review. These specific steps help to increase our visibility on iTunes which really helps new listeners discover us. A huge heartfelt thank you for your time and support! You can click here to go directly to our iTunes page!
“I knew that this would take a lot longer to get an agent and a book deal if it ever did and I was still ok with going for it because I felt it was important enough to the story to give it a shot.”
“With plotting and drafting, every book is different. You have to re-learn how the process is going to work for that specific book.”
“A lot of revision went into making sure that it [American Panda] was readable for everyone but at the same time it was very honest and it portrayed everything accurately.”
What You’ll Learn From This Episode:
- Traditional roles of women and men ingrained in the Taiwanese culture
- Family values in Taiwanese culture
- The inspiration for the book cover design, how much input Gloria had with the design process, and how one of the details inspired Gloria to tweak a part of her story
- Tools and methods Gloria used to help with revising and plotting
- How she crafted the main character’s voice
- Gloria shares one of the most important things she learned about revisions
- She walks us through the most exciting and challenging things about debut year
- We discuss the difficulties she faced trying to market a YA book set in college
- The details of Gloria’s revision process
About “American Panda”
An incisive, laugh-out-loud contemporary debut about a Taiwanese-American teen whose parents want her to be a doctor and marry a Taiwanese Ivy Leaguer despite her squeamishness with germs and crush on a Japanese classmate.
At seventeen, Mei should be in high school, but skipping fourth grade was part of her parents’ master plan. Now a freshman at MIT, she is on track to fulfill the rest of this predetermined future: become a doctor, marry a preapproved Taiwanese Ivy Leaguer, produce a litter of babies.
With everything her parents have sacrificed to make her cushy life a reality, Mei can’t bring herself to tell them the truth–that she (1) hates germs, (2) falls asleep in biology lectures, and (3) has a crush on her classmate Darren Takahashi, who is decidedly not Taiwanese.
But when Mei reconnects with her brother, Xing, who is estranged from the family for dating the wrong woman, Mei starts to wonder if all the secrets are truly worth it. Can she find a way to be herself, whoever that is, before her web of lies unravels?
From debut author Gloria Chao comes a hilarious, heartfelt tale of how unlike the panda, life isn’t always so black and white.
Exclusive “American Panda” Excerpt Below
“He’s a regular old Jeremy Lin, all right,” I said, expecting to end the conversation since no one would understand my reference.
“No one is as good as Jeremy Lin,” my mother said.
“Lin-sanity,” Nǎinai added.
I choked on my tea. “Do either of you know who Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, or LeBron James is?”
Nǎinai smiled. “Eat your vitamins.”
I answered my own question. “They’re basketball players.”
“We don’t know them because they’re not as good as Jeremy Lin,” my mother said with a shrug.
I had forgotten about what I like to call the Asian Club Phenomenon—that my family didn’t know Brad Pitt or J. K. Rowling, but they knew Lucy Liu and Amy Tan. Was it because so few Asians broke into pop culture that they felt a sense of shared pride, or was it because they felt a bond with every Asian, even the strangers we bumped into at Kmart and Costco?
“Too bad you didn’t go for it, Bà,” I said. “You could have been Lu-sanity. Well, that doesn’t really work. Lu-nar eclipse. You know, because you would eclipse everybody.”
Nǎinai nodded. “Lunar. We use lunar calendar.”
I nodded at her, too distracted to even register that she hadn’t gotten my joke. A rare opportunity had presented itself, but it was so risky I was jiggling my leg the way my mother hated. “Do you guys think Jeremy Lin’s mother was right to let him pursue his NBA dream?”
“Do you remember Peter Cheng?” my mother asked. “You got locked in the bathroom at his house when you were little. Well, he was roommates with Jeremy Lin. And Peter is now a lawyer, making tons of money. I heard he bought his fiancée a three-carat diamond. Huge! The size of my fist.” She held up her tiny clenched hand to demonstrate. “So at least Jeremy Lin went to Harvard and has that degree as backup.”
The weight on my chest lightened . . . until Yilong spoke a second later.
“Jeremy Lin probably went into basketball because he wasn’t good at medicine or law. Don’t worry, Mei. You will make the best doctor. Plenty of job offers, plenty of money.”
Learn More About Gloria Chao
Gloria Chao is an MIT grad turned dentist turned writer. She currently lives in Chicago with her ever-supportive husband, for whom she became a nine-hole golfer (sometimes seven). She is always up for cooperative board games, Dance Dance Revolution, or soup dumplings. She was also once a black belt in kung-fu and a competitive dancer, but that side of her was drilled and suctioned out. American Panda is her debut novel, and Misaligned is forthcoming fall 2019.
Books & Resources Mentioned in Gloria’s Episode:
Writing the Breakout Novel: Insider Advice for Taking Your Fiction to the Next Level by Donald Maass