Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Interview with author David Yoo

At our last meeting, UHS Book Club students read and discussed Stop Me If You've Heard This One Before by local author David Yoo.  David was kind enough to allow all of us to interview him for our blog - for a glimpse into the life of a published author, read below!

1. Did you always know you wanted to be a writer?

Not really, though there were a few bursts throughout my childhood where I felt the urge to try to write a novel. For a few months when I was in fifth grade, for example, I used to have my mom buy me a five-subject notebook at the grocery store every other week, and when we got home I'd rush up to my room and carefully tape white paper to the front and draw the cover (usually involving really big bees) and then write an 'about the author' profile on the back cover, then painstakingly number each page, but then I'd write maybe a page or two of the actual story before losing interest. Otherwise I wanted to be a pro tennis player, a dream that died sometime in high school when I realized I was a classic choke artist (and that I couldn't volley to save my life.)

2. Where did you go to school and what was your major?

I attended Skidmore College, where I majored in Government and English Lit with a concentration in creative writing. At this point I don't know why I majored in government. It sounded good to my parents, I guess. Afterwards I went to grad school at CU-Boulder, focusing on writing fiction. Which didn't sound as good to my parents, truth be told.

3. Do you have any other jobs in addition to your writing career?

I teach creative writing at Pine Manor College as well as online fiction workshops at the Gotham Writer's Workshop, and I have a little column in Koream Journal, a monthly magazine. Prior to that I had a thriving temp career (my specialty was answering phones and sorting junk mail) and before that I excelled at flower delivery.

4. Did you base any of your novel Stop Me If You've Heard This One Before on your own life?

I worked at an inn one summer when I was a teenager, the same one Albert Kim works at in the novel. My buddy Joe and I worked as maintenance, and we were probably the worst maintenance crew, ever. As in the novel, we ruined the brass fixtures in the hotel by cleaning them with 409 and we burned the new sod in the back of the hotel and at one point we spilled a cart full of paint cans all over the parking lot. We never got fired, I think because each time we messed up our boss mistakenly assumed the worst was over.

5. Where did you get the idea for this story?

I wanted to write an unorthodox love triangle, set at the aforementioned inn I worked at when I was a teen.

6. Are you already working on your next novel?

My next novel is coming out this June. It's called THE DETENTION CLUB (Balzer & Bray), and it's my first middle grade novel. Meanwhile, I'm currently revising my first collection of essays for adults, HONORABLE MENTION (Grand Central), due out in April, 2012.

7. When do you do most of your writing? Do you set aside different times of the day to devote to your writing?

Now that I have a child (Griffin, 8.5 months old), I write at night and on weekends, and at random moments throughout the day when the baby's either asleep or out with his mother. Prior to his birth I wrote 5 days a week, yet surprisingly, I probably get the same amount of work done each week because I have no choice but to be focused when I sit down to write. My freecell and spider solitaire playing, on the other hand, has suffered greatly, however.

8. When you sit down to write, how much do you usually write at one time?

It varies. When I'm writing the rough draft of a novel, I try to write 5 single-spaced pages a day. Sometimes I come away with 0 pages, but when the writing's going well I can churn out upwards of 20 single-spaced pages in a day. 19 of them horrible, mind you...sigh.

9. How long does it take you to complete a novel?

Again, it varies, but a rough draft usually takes me between 3-5 months. To actually complete it takes another year or so of revising.

10. What was your own high school experience like?

Confused, for the most part. Alternately fun/hectic and utterly boring/dissapointing.

11. What advice do you have for high school students that have aspirations of being a published writer some day?

Read A LOT. The best education you can give yourself regarding the craft of writing is to read as many stories and novels as you can. And write a lot, of course. I also watched a ridiculous amount of movies since a young age, and that, too, was a big influence on me. And if you really want to pursue writing, do really poorly in school so there's no pressure to enter another field because you're clearly unqualified to do anything else. Actually, scratch that last part...