Monday, October 8, 2018

Author Interview -- Sarah Kuhn

Today I have the honor of interviewing one of my favorite authors. A while back I reviewed Sarah Kuhn's novel Heroine Complex (see here for my review) and got hooked on the Asian girl power F-bombs. With three books in the series and even more awesomeness on the way, Ms. Kuhn is definitely on a roll. Lucky for us, she had time to answer a few burning questions.

How would you describe your writing to a newb?

Superheroine-powered romance-fantasy that’s as fun and vibrant and candy-colored as Jason Chan’s beautiful covers for the HEROINE series. (That’s what I’m always trying to live up to, anyway.) Packed with feels of all kinds. Spotlighting women of color getting to have fun and adventure and happy endings.

Where did the idea for Heroine Complex come from?

I grew up on a steady diet of superhero comics and I particularly loved the X-Men, because they always spend an excessive amount of time talking about their feelings, even when—especially when!—the world needs saving. I always wondered, though, who was doing all the behind-the-scenes dirty work—taking costumes to the dry cleaners, updating the social media, cleaning up all the superpowered messes left behind. I thought it would be fun to write about the person who has to do all that, the beleaguered PA to superheroes. That’s how I found Evie Tanaka, superheroine PA extraordinaire, who stars in the first book. And then all her friends wanted their own stories, too.

Who are your female role models?

Way too many to list here, but my biggest role models are my girl gangs, all the wonderful women I’m close to. When everything else in the world seems terrible, being part of those communities has saved my life.

Heroine Complex is told from Evie's POV. Why did you change to Annie's POV for Heroine Worship?

In the first draft of the book, Aveda was more of a one-note diva — she was really awful to Evie, and one of my editor’s first notes was that she didn’t really understand why they were friends in the first place. I had to go back and really explore that question, and that’s how I got into the deeper nuances of their relationships — how Aveda had really always been there to save Evie and they’d developed this not-very-healthy codependent relationship they needed to fix. It made me really feel for Aveda, to realize that everything she was doing stemmed from her ultra perfectionist nature and her fear of failure and of being alone. She became real to me through that process, so of course that made me want to her explore her story. (Plus, I really wanted to show how she and Scott finally got together!)

Which of your characters do you identify with most?

I always identify the most with whoever I’m writing at the time. When I wrote Evie, I felt her need for control and the tentative unleashing of her allowing herself to really want things. With Aveda, I felt that perfectionist nature and fear of messing up deep in my bones. And with Bea, I felt her need for whimsy and excitement and the deep grief she was trying to run away from. I think I have to connect to each character that deeply in order to write them well.

Have you written anything you wish more people would notice?

I have written a few tweets that I feel were very underrated.

What can a hungry writer do to get exposure?

I don’t think there’s any magic answer to that — except just write. Finish something. Start the next thing. Try different things. In any creative industry, we feel like we have control over so little — but as long as you’re writing, you’re steering the ship. (This sentence sounded good when I started writing it, and now I’m like, what? What does that mean?? But see, I can write another sentence — I’m steering the ship!)

Which of the superpowers in your stories would you most want to have? Say, the super handy GPS power?

That would come in extremely handy in LA, but my original dream power was shooting fire out of my hands, so I still kind of want Evie’s. (Probably no one else wants me to have this power, though.)


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