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Five questions for Nicola Yoon

nicola-yoon

Photo: Sonya Sones

Natasha’s family is about to be deported to Jamaica. It’s a bad time to fall in love, and she fights it mightily. But Daniel Jae Ho Bae is so kind, sweet, and charming, she can’t resist — and neither will readers be able to resist Nicola Yoon’s romantic and multifaceted The Sun Is Also a Star (Delacorte, 14 years and up).

1. The book’s main events are set over the course of just one day in NYC. Once you made that decision, was it confining or liberating?

NY: It was liberating. Strangely, my mind tends to work better with a constraint to push against. I almost need to be constricted so that I can write my way out of it. One thing that was not so great was having to keep such minute track of the hours in the day. I had to figure out train schedules and average walking speeds to make sure Natasha and Daniel’s route through the city was plausible and physically possible!

2. Who was your favorite character to write?

NY: I really loved writing Natasha because she’s such a true believer without knowing that she’s a true believer. She thinks that science is purely objective — which, of course, it is not. It was fun to watch her try to resist Daniel and fate and her own feelings.

yoon_sun-is-also-a-star3. How did you decide where to place the “history of” chapter interludes and who or what they’d be about? Did you have a favorite history to write?

NY: Part of what I wanted to explore in this book was the interconnectedness of people. Whether or not we are aware of it, we are all influenced by our own histories, the histories of our families, and even the histories of strangers. I included interludes about minor characters to explore those connections.

As for the more scientific interludes, I’m kind of a nerd. I took any opportunity to interject a little science into the book. At one point, Natasha is lamenting how quickly love can fade. I naturally starting thinking about radioactive decay and half-lives, so I included a section about it.

4. Did you have the ending in mind from the start?

NY: Usually I know the ending of my books before I start writing, but I didn’t with this one. I wrote a couple of different versions of the ending before I finally came to the one that’s actually in the book. One of the alternate endings is fairly tragic but, fortunately, my editor talked me out of it!

5. So much of this story is about fate, about planning ahead versus letting the moment take you. Do you believe in fate?

NY: Sometimes!

From the November 2016 issue of Notes from the Horn Book.

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Comments

  1. Congratulations, Nicola. I recently added your book to my list after reading a great review. I love the idea of a story in a single day.

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