Publishers’ Preview: Middle-Grade Novels: Five Questions for Yoon Ha Lee

Publishers' Previews: Special advertising supplement in The Horn Book Magazine
This interview originally appeared in the January/February 2019 Horn Book Magazine as part of the Publishers’ Previews: Middle-Grade Novels, an advertising supplement that allows participating publishers a chance to each highlight a book from its current list. They choose the books; we ask the questions.

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Is it fantasy or science fiction when Dragon Pearl’s shape-shifting fox spirit/thirteen-year-old heroine goes interstellar to rescue her brother?

Photo: Jeff Mann.

1. Korean mythic figures in a spaceship setting: what do you call your genre?

“Korean mythology space opera.” It’s a little on the nose, but it gets the idea across. It’s also not like there are a ton of other examples that I can steal a name from — yet.

2. Are you hoping to engender more respect for the lowly spork?

I am! I’m very fond of them. There’s just something hilarious about sporks. In the folktales my parents told me, goblins go around with magical clubs that can summon anything, including gold. For summoning junk food, I decided a magical spork would be more appropriate. More portable, too. Although eating shrimp crackers with a spork would pose quite a challenge!

3. Did giving one character the singular “they” pronoun pose any grammatical difficulties?

Not any more than, say, having two characters use “she” pronouns in the same scene.

4. What does Rick Riordan do for “Rick Riordan Presents”?

Rick helps select and promote the books in the imprint, and he writes introductions for all of them. He also helped with the editing process to make my book the best it could possibly be. I especially appreciated Rick’s insights as well as those of my editor, Stephanie Lurie, since I’m new to writing children’s books.

5. Do you think you’re going to like it here?

It’s definitely a change of pace! I really appreciate the chance to stretch my writing skills and connect with younger readers. I’m already grateful for the welcome I’ve received.

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