Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Q&A with Suzanne Park




Suzanne Park is the author of the new novel One Last Word. Her other books include the novel The Do-Over. She lives in Los Angeles.


Q: In our previous Q&A, you said that One Last Word was inspired by To All the Boys I've Loved Before, the YA novel by Jenny Han. Can you say more about that?


A: When I pitched this book, my editor said, “Oh, it’s like To All the Boys but with a tech spin for the adult market,” and that pretty much sums it up!


During the pandemic I watched a lot of Jenny Han’s on-screen adaptations, and after finishing the series I thought to myself, “This would SO HORRIBLE if this happened to a grown-up.”


Around the same time, I had been researching the challenges of women in tech and venture capital, and when the idea came to me for One Last Word, I couldn’t let it go.

Q: How did you create your character Sara? 


A: Sara needed to be a strong heroine who was relatable but also flawed. Tough enough to navigate the male-dominated tech and venture capital world, but also vulnerable by avoiding conflict her whole life to allow for personal growth.


As an author who writes stories about Korean Americans, it feels like there’s an added challenge to make sure characters in the Asian diaspora are three-dimensional— showing breadth and depth and avoiding cookie-cutter depictions and stereotypes.


For each book, I try to show a range in experiences and backgrounds for all my main characters and not repeat personas from book to book. 


Q: The Kirkus Review of the book says, in part, “Park has always been good at telling stories about women who find themselves at a nadir in their professional lives, and Sara’s struggles in her industry are deeply relatable...” What do you think of that description?


A: This might be one of my favorite Kirkus reviews, because they considered how I always showcase the challenges of professional women in my stories, and also how I’m trying to do something in literature that you don’t see depicted often.


Q: What do you hope readers take away from the story? 


A: With all my books, I hope the reader thinks, “Marginalized nerds deserve a happily ever after in career and love.” For this specific story, I want people who read it to know that it’s okay to not have your entire life figured out by your mid-30s.


Q: What are you working on now?


A: After releasing seven books in four years, I took a hiatus and am just now coming back to that. I’m working on a new adult fiction idea that I love, and I hope to share more soon.


Q: Anything else we should know? 


A: Fun fact: the original working title was Upon My Death, and needless to say, my editor wanted me to change it because it was way too depressing. 


--Interview with Deborah Kalb. Here's a previous Q&A with Suzanne Park.

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