Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Author Interview: Malinda Lo

Malinda Lo was born in China and moved to the United States as a child. She grew up in Colorado and has since lived in Boston, New York, London, Beijing, Los Angeles and San Francisco. She is the former managing editor of AfterEllen.com, the largest entertainment news website for lesbians and bisexual women. In 2006, Malinda was awarded the Sarah Pettit Memorial Award for Excellence in LGBT Journalism by the National Gay and Lesbian Journalists Association. She is a graduate of Wellesley College and has master’s degrees from Harvard and Stanford universities. Malinda now lives in Northern California with her partner and their dog. Ash is her first novel.

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
I've always known I wanted to be a writer. Even before I learned how to write, I was telling stories. In fact, I can't remember a time when I didn't want to be a writer!

How did you come up with the title?
It came directly from the name of the main character, Aisling, whose nickname is Ash. Additionally, I wanted the title (and the character's name) to reflect the Cinderella-ness of the tale. You may recall that Cinderella likes to sit by the fireplace, where she gets covered in ashes (or cinders). Incidentally, the German version of the fairy tale is called "Aschenputtel" — so Ash also references that.

How do you develop your plots and characters?
Very slowly, and with much difficulty. :) Seriously, it is hard for me at first to figure out who my characters are. I can map out a plot first, but it doesn't make sense to me until I know who I'm writing about. The only way I can get to know my characters is to write about them. So I'm kind of in a vicious circle at first. That means the beginning of a novel is usually very hard for me to write. It isn't until I'm more than 50% of the way through that I finally have a grasp on my characters. Then I can go back and make sure the plot makes sense in the context of who these characters are.

What books have most influenced your life most?
The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley — a fantasy novel about a girl who becomes a hero; I absolutely adored this book as a teen
A Ring of Endless Light by Madeleine L'Engle — a lovely, complicated book about mortality (and being a teenager)
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen — the funniest book ever written; and who doesn't love Mr. Darcy?

What was the hardest part of writing Ash?
There were lots of hard parts, mostly involving revision. Revising on my own, before I had an agent or editor, was difficult because I had no one to tell me what to do! Revising with an editor was hard because she was telling me what to do! But all of it was worth it, and now that it's over, I can't really remember which was the hardest. :)

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in any of your book?
No.

Is there anything else you would like to share with the readers?
I hope you'll enjoy Ash!


Thanks Malinda!

For more information about Malinda Lo and Ash, please visit her website here.

25 comments :

  1. ooh, ooh, I have heard about this book, I really want to read it. Sounds great!

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  2. oh i love madeline l'engle too! she was the first author that got me into reading :) awesome.

    ~haleyknitz

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  3. Great interview.There's great buzz about this book.

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  4. ahh awesome interview =) i love the name Aisling =)

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  5. Haha nice interview =)
    I love how you mention it's hard to work without editor, but also hard to work with.

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  6. Great interview! I love interviews because i love gaining the perspective of the authors! :)

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  7. I LIKE the name! Ash in Fireplace! Thats SO cool

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  8. Great interview! I, too, love Pride and Prejudice!
    wandanamgreb (at) gmail (dot) com

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  9. Great Interview! I also love Pride and Prejudice!
    -Liz

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  10. I love all the books that Malinda mentioned as having an impact on her. A Ring of Endless Light is amazing! That book is hardly ever mentioned!

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  11. Nice interview! I want to read her book so bad!

    -Marisa

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  12. Nice interview. I was wondering how Malinda came up with the title of the book.

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  13. I like when an author puts their spin on a fairytale

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  14. This was a cute interview :) And I agree, who dosen't like Mr.Darcy :D

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  15. haha revising is always hard! But I like it better when I get to choose what stays and goes

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  16. Great interview! I have heard great things about Ash

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  17. Cool interview. I know I've mentioned it before, but I love how you always ask which books influenced the authors. And I'm mostly pleasantly surprised to see either authors I know and love, or new recommendations for great literature. This time is no exception - Robin McKinley is a huge favorite of mine. I'd take her books to a desert island, no question. Thanks for sharing the interview!

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  18. One day, ONE DAY, I will make it through all of Pride and Prejudice.

    Valorie
    morbidromantic@gmail.com

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  19. Good interview. It was interesting to hear how the title came about. I am looking forward to the book.

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  20. A Ring of Endless Light is one of my favorite books too. Love the title of Ash. Some would have gone with the more obvious Cinders but Ash is much more interesting. Great interview!!!

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  21. It's an interesting book name, I love it! You asked really great questions. I really want to read ASH!

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  22. Awesome interview! I can't wait to read Ash!

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  23. I love the concept and title! With a book that appears to have so much thought put into just the concept and title, I can tell the book itself is going to be good!

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  24. I agree, revision is the hardest part of writing.

    nancyecdavis AT bellsouth DOT net

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