How do we move through these arduous times? How are writers sustaining creativity? How does one determine when there’s enough research to begin drafting? We discuss these topics and more with Kelly Yang.
Kelly is the award-wining author of Front Desk, the winner of the 2019 Asian Pacific American Award for Children’s Literature, her newly released YA novel Parachutes, and her upcoming book and sequel of Front Desk – Three Keys.
Kelly and I kick off our conversation diving into Kelly’s experience during Covid-19 as an Asian-American, how she is feeding her creativity during this challenging time, ways she is trying to keep herself and her family emotionally healthy, and how she has redefined her self-care. She also shares ways in which we all can help combat the horrible racism and discrimination in our communities brought about from Covid-19.
Further in, she shares her writing journey and her experience so far publishing Asian-American stories. She gives us a snapshot of her newly released novel Parachutes and a glimpse into her research process drawing from personal experiences and gathering stories from other parachute children. We discuss how to determine when you have compiled enough research to jump into your story, and how drafting the first few chapters of a story idea before committing to writing the whole book can help you figure out if it’s the perfect story for you. And later, Kelly drops some real-talk about making an income as a creative, shares her golden rule in life that’ll inspire you to not give up on your projects, and steps you can take to reach your writing goals, especially during this challenging time.
Kelly’s episode is edited from a livestream we recorded back in March. Please note that the audio quality isn’t as clear as it’s pulled from our livestream, and you’ll hear some popping sounds in the background which were notifications from the live commenting during the livestream, but the content is so important especially during these times so don’t let the audio quality get in the way. Find our full 2-hour livestream event below!
Books and resources:
- Kelly’s free virtual writing class for teens
- The Kelly Yang Project
- Crazy Rich Asians directed by Jon M. Chu
- The Magic Words by Cheryl Klein
- Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling
Check out these highlights:
- We discuss the racism and xenophobia targeting our Asian communities surrounding the pandemic (4:10)
- Kelly shares how she is keeping herself and her family emotionally healthy and how she is redefining her self-care routine (11:40)
- We unpack her journey towards becoming an award-winning author writing Asian-American stories (17:57)
- We dive into the details of Kelly’s newly released YA novel Parachutes and the inspiration behind the story (23:30)
- Kelly brings us behind-the-scenes into her research process pulling from personal experiences and gathering stories from parachute teens (25:24)
- You’ll learn how to determine when you’ve compiled enough research to then begin writing the first draft of your story (26:10)
- You’ll hear real-talk about making an income as a creative (33:35)
- Kelly shares her golden rule in life that’ll inspire tenacity to stay on course with your writing projects (34:15)
- Apply her step-by-step advice to reach your writing goals during these arduous times (35:21)
“You can’t win if you don’t play.”Kelly Yang
“I feel like we’re at a really interesting time in history were people finally want to hear Asian-American stories. I have so many hysterical, moving, amazing Asian-American stories to tell, so I love being in publishing right now.”Kelly Yang
“If you love something, nothing persuades you.”Kelly Yang
“We can’t control the things that we can’t control, but we can absolutely do the best job we can writing the story.”Kelly Yang
Say “Hi!” to Kelly:
Learn more about “Parachutes“:
They’re called parachutes: teenagers dropped off to live in private homes and study in the United States while their wealthy parents remain in Asia. Claire Wang never thought she’d be one of them, until her parents pluck her from her privileged life in Shanghai and enroll her at a high school in California.
Suddenly she finds herself living in a stranger’s house, with no one to tell her what to do for the first time in her life. She soon embraces her newfound freedom, especially when the hottest and most eligible parachute, Jay, asks her out.
Dani De La Cruz, Claire’s new host sister, couldn’t be less thrilled that her mom rented out a room to Claire. An academic and debate team star, Dani is determined to earn her way into Yale, even if it means competing with privileged kids who are buying their way to the top. But Dani’s game plan veers unexpectedly off course when her debate coach starts working with her privately.
As they steer their own distinct paths, Dani and Claire keep crashing into one another, setting a course that will change their lives forever.
Learn more about Kelly Yang:
Kelly Yang is the author of Front Desk, winner of the Asian/Pacific American Award for Children’s Literature. She went to college at age thirteen and is a graduate of UC Berkeley and Harvard Law School. She is the founder of The Kelly Yang Project, a leading writing and debating program for children in Asia and the United States. She is also a columnist for the South China Morning Post and has been published in the New York Times, Washington Post, and the Atlantic. Kelly is the mother of three children and splits her time between Hong Kong and San Francisco.