I got to interview Nicola Yoon LIVE on my Instagram Story last month courtesy of
Penguin Platform. The author of Everything, Everything and The Sun is also
a Star was visiting London to promote the newly adapted Everything, Everything movie.
If you are unfamiliar with it, check out the trailer here. Everything, Everything is about
teenager Maddie, allergic to the world, until she meets her next door neighbour
who shows that there is more to life beyond the four walls of her home.
I asked Nicola on her inspiration for the book, how we can read more diverse literature
and what it's really like being on a movie set and more. Read what she said!
Having rushed into the office situated in Piccadilly, I waited as Nicola finished off a interview for Youtube. This was the perfect opportunity for me to acclimatise, watch Nicola and catch my breath. I was up next. She extended a hand in greeting with a wide smile and soft American accent. Immediately, I felt less anxious as we discussed how I would record the question first, then record her answer and upload later on Instagram Story.
Rima: Hi guys, so I'm here with Nicola Yoon, and I'm about to do a live Q&A with her. So if she could say hello now...
Nicola: Hi guys!
Rima: Everything, Everything is a unique concept. What was your inspiration behind it?Nicola: So, I was writing when my daughter was four months old and I was a very nervous mom. Urm, so that was the inspiration. I basically tried to figure out what life would be like for a girl that you treated as an infant because you had to and then I switched it to the girl's point of view.
Rima: Do you write characters based on your self?
Nicola: Urm...no. I don't. Urm, I write characters based on little parts of myself, but mostly from friends or family.
Rima: Have you written any other novels in collaboration with other writers? If not, would you like to, and with who?
Nicola: So, I haven't written anything in collaboration but I've always wanted to with my husband. We actually met in graduate school and we're totally going to do it! *grins excitedly*
Rima: Do you have a special time to write, and how is your day structured?
Nicola: From four to six AM in the morning, and then my little girl wakes up and we do, like, mommy stuff and then I write again from nine to two in the afternoon.
Rima: What would you say are the main advantages and disadvantages of self publishing and being published the conventional way?
Nicola: So, I've always been published the conventional way. I think one of the main disadvantage sf self-publishing is just that distribution - some publishers have a big network that they can send the books out to.
Rima: What advice do you have for other writers who want to portray diversity but are worried that they'll be playing into stereotypes?
Nicola: You know, when you're writing, make sure you're writing characters and not caricatures. And if you're writing about a cultural group outside of your own, get someone inside that group to read it so that they'll tell you about anything that's harmful or problematic.
Rima: What other diverse books would you recommend?
Nicola: I'd recommend The Hate You Give by Angie Thomas, More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera, All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely, We Are Okay by Nina LaCour, ohh gosh, anything by Jacqueline Woodson!
Rima: As a writer, I often go through stages where I don't feel like my book will ever be ready. What gave you the final push or inspired you to submit your first book?
Nicola: I was working at a job that I really hated and I had my little girl and I had a moment when I realised I would tell her if she should pursue her dreams when I wasn't pursuing mine. And that was really the bug push for me to say, 'okay, I'm going to try'.
Rima: How do you over come a writing slump?
Nicola: Video games. *laughs* Basically the trick is to do something else and let your subconscious mind work on it. Urm, usually if I have one of those (writer's block) it's because I made the characters do something wrong so I have to delete, delete, delete until I get to the right spot.
Rima: So you're part of the #weneeddiversebooks campaign. What do you think we need to do as readers, and as publishers and writers to forward that campaign and make sure that more diverse books are being published?
Nicola: So, as readers, just read more diversely. You know, check out what's on your shelf and try to get more diverse book titles. Urm, but we need more publishers and agents and editors, sort of in the pipeline, so that we get more diverse books in the end.
Rima: So, how excited are you from one to ten are you about the film, the cast? And what was it like being on set?
Nicola: So, I'm about a twelve on the excitement level! Umm, and being on set was great. We have a cameo in the movie so look for us. We're 'family on the beach', we go by in two seconds but we're cute! Heck, we're cute!
Rima: And finally, describe Everything, Everything in six words.
Nicola: Uh....what would you risk for love?
And, that's a wrap! I just wanted to say a huge THANK YOU to the people at Penguin Platform for inviting me. And to Nicola for putting up with my questions and signing my books. It was my first time interviewing someone but I'm honoured to have been a part (albeit infinitesimal) of getting word out about this quirky and diverse Young Adult to the world.
Everything, Everything is out now in cinemas in US. Soon to be released everywhere else. It's one of my most anticipated movies of 2017 because of the cast (Amanda Sternberg and Nick Robinson) and the trailer had me hooked. The Everything, Everything soundtrack on Spotify and SUPER FUN emoji trailer just show how entertaining it will be. Positively perfect for summer!
Have you read the book? Are you going to watch the film? What do you think of the cast?