Wednesday, September 14, 2022

Q&A with Erin Yun




Erin Yun is the author of the new middle grade novel Pippa Park Crush at First Sight. It's a sequel to her novel Pippa Park Raises Her Game. Yun is a master's student at Cambridge in the UK.


Q: Why did you decide to write this new novel about your character Pippa Park?


A: Well, partially because Pippa’s story didn’t feel over, but mostly because I wasn’t ready to let her story be over! I usually bond with the characters I write, but Pippa and her endearing exuberance hold a special place in my heart.


Although she technically lives in my head, it feels like I’m genuinely hanging out with her whenever I’m writing about her—and I didn’t even realize how much I missed this friendship until the period between finishing book number one and starting book number two.


Plus, Pippa has such a romantic, dreamy heart that I really wanted to give her an exciting new crush in the sequel—and I think funny, music-loving Marvel definitely fits the bill. Of course, it’s not until Pippa develops a new crush on Marvel that her old crush, Eliot, finally starts paying attention to her . . .


Q: Do you think Pippa's changed at all from one book to the next?


A: Good question. I would have to say both yes and no. In the first book, Pippa struggles to overcome various insecurities, and going into the second book, she’s made progress, but it’s a bit of a one step forward, two steps back situation.


Although she’s open about her life before attending Lakeview Private, she still tends to internalize her problems and procrastinate instead of facing them and seeking outside help.

It’s interesting. I finished the final draft for Pippa Park Crush at First Sight before I was officially diagnosed with ADHD; during the writing process, I didn’t intend for Pippa to have ADHD, but because our voices and thought patterns are so closely aligned, it’s hard not to project my own experiences onto her.


So, while it’s important to me for Pippa to go through a growth arc in each book—and in the series as a whole—I’m still parsing out which parts of Pippa will change through time and experience, and which parts are integral to her character.


Q: The first Pippa Park novel was based on Great Expectations—was this one inspired by a particular story?


A: Keeping in line with the Dickens theme, Pippa Park Crush at First Sight takes inspiration from A Christmas Carol—but because Pippa’s character and world was already established in book one, there are fewer direct parallels and more whimsical commonalities between the two.


When I think about A Christmas Carol, my mind immediately jumps to the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Christmas Future, and Christmas Yet to Come. To capture the essence of the spirits without changing genres from realistic fiction to fantasy, I had Mrs. Lee perform a past, present, and future tarot reading for Pippa.


I also tried to focus on thematic similarities. For example, in A Christmas Carol, Scrooge’s greed comes at the cost of love and human connection, while in Pippa Park Crush at First Sight, Pippa’s fixation on throwing the perfect party—with expensive dresses and elegant décor—begins to overshadow what truly makes the holidays special: spreading cheer, being with loved ones, and, of course, decorating (and eating) sugar cookies.


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


A: When I sat down to write Pippa Park Raises Her Game, I didn’t have a preset moral or lesson, but I hoped readers would remember to be kinder to themselves. I think this is doubly true for book two. Life is hard, and the last few years have felt particularly devastating. If even one reader finds happiness in the pages of Pippa Park Crush at First Sight, then I’ll have met my goal.


Q: What are you working on now?


A: I’m currently going into my second year as a master’s student at Cambridge in the UK, and I’m working on an array of prose and screenwriting projects! I enjoy a plethora of genres, but I’m feeling particularly energized by both horror and comedy at the moment.


--Interview with Deborah Kalb. Here's a previous Q&A with Erin Yun. 

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