Hey everyone – we are here today with debut author F.C. YEE and WE ARE THRILLED to chat about Genie Lo! There is so much to love about this book and her story. Check out out interview with F.C. below and enter our giveaway at the end!
INTERVIEW WITH FC YEE
Tell us about Genie Lo. Who are the important people in her life, what motivates her, and what surprised you about her?
Genie is a Chinese American teenager growing up in an area where there are plenty of kids like her- tough, academically minded, and driven to succeed. Her motivation is to excel in every aspect of her life in order to get as far away as possible from what she rightly or wrongly sees as a stifling, painful, and struggle-filled past.
As an emotionally guarded person, the important people in her life are her parents and the few friends she lets in. While I knew that was going to be part of her characterization, what surprised me was the way I could or couldn’t write parts of the story as a result. An early reader once gave me feedback that [redacted plot element] should happen, and while I understood the narrative merits of the suggestion, I couldn’t put it in because the Genie’s emotional response would derail the whole book.
Talk to us about the process of bringing Chinese folklore to life. What was the research process like and what would you like people who are new to the lore to know?
Journey to the West is a massively influential classic of Chinese fiction that has elements everywhere in popular media. However (and against all odds really, given how famous it is) I actually never read or watched any direct adaptations. I went straight to the translated source material, as a new student. Like any text as old as this one is, it sometimes portrays values that are jarringly different to a modern reader. But that helped in a way, because I could apply the filter of Genie’s sensibilities as she learns about the lore herself.
What I’d like to people who are new to this story to know is how ingrained Journey to the West is to its native culture. I am spectacularly unqualified to speak about it as an authority. But as a dabbler, a borrower, and someone who was inspired by it, I feel okay. Because there are so many creators who were like me and did the same.
Which of Genie Lo’s personality traits of do you most relate to?
I relate most to her frustrations. “At what?” one might ask. “Everything,” I would respond. At the start of the book the biggest personal hurdle she is facing is college applications, but her drive goes even deeper than that. The general sense of always wanting more and nothing ever being enough is something we share, even if it’s not an appealing trait.
Genie Lo has a lot of humor and a bit of romance in it, as well as paranormal elements. Talk about your writing process and what it was like to incorporate all of these elements.
I think I took a kitchen sink approach, plastering over romantic and paranormal shenanigans using humor as a binder. If that sounds like one wacky contracting job, it might have been. I’ve found that audiences can accept a wider variety of elements if you can make them laugh.
Process-wise, I tried to focus on keeping the reader’s attention, page by page. I did have a rough outline of what major plot points I wanted to hit, but other than that, I set an informal goal that someone had to get “punched in the face” either physically or metaphorically (or even romantically) in each scene. Immature, I know, but as a first-time author I thought that certain loudness worked for the book.
What are some of your favorite fantasy books that readers of Genie Lo will love?
The Grace of Kings, for Asian fantasy with a sweeping reach.
The Magicians, for magic influencing the lives of characters with contemporary sensibilities, as well as jerks named Quentin.
American Born Chinese, for an adaptation of Journey to the West that highlights emotional themes in the original work for modern readers
The struggle to get into a top-tier college consumes sixteen-year-old Genie Lo’s every waking thought. But when her sleepy Bay Area town comes under siege from hell-spawn straight out of Chinese folklore, her priorities are suddenly and forcefully rearranged.
Her only guide to the demonic chaos breaking out around her is Quentin Sun, a beguiling, maddening new transfer student from overseas. Quentin assures Genie she is strong enough to fight these monsters, for she unknowingly harbors an inner power that can level the very gates of Heaven.
Genie will have to dig deep within herself to summon the otherworldly strength that Quentin keeps talking about. But as she does, she finds the secret of her true nature is entwined with his, in a way she could never have imagined…
F. C. Yee grew up in New Jersey and went to school in New England, but has called the San Francisco Bay Area home ever since he beat a friend at a board game and shouted “That’s how we do it in NorCal, baby!” Outside of writing, he practices capoeira, a Brazilian form of martial arts, and has a day job mostly involving spreadsheets.
FOLLOW THE TOUR
7/31/2017- Wandering Bark Books– Guest Post
8/1/2017- Dani Reviews Things– Review
8/2/2017- Bookwyrming Thoughts– Interview
8/3/2017- NovelKnight– Review
8/4/2017- Tales of the Ravenous Reader– Interview