Posted by: nancyisanders | August 7, 2009

Author Interview: Paula Yoo

Meet Author Paula Yoo!
Website: Write Like You Mean It
Blog: Paula Yoo’s Blog

Paula Yoo is a children’s book author. Her latest book, Shining Star: The Anna May Wong Story, came out this June 2009 from Lee & Low Books. It is a children’s non-fiction picture book biography about the life of Anna May Wong, Hollywood’s first Asian American movie star. Paula is also the
author of Sixteen Years in Sixteen Seconds: The Sammy Lee Story
(illustrated by Dom Lee), published by Lee & Low Books in 2003. It won
the Lee & Low 2003 New Voices Award, received starred reviews from
BookList and Kirkus Reviews, and was on the 2006 Texas BlueBonnet
Masterlist and the IRA 2006 Notable Book list. Paula’s debut YA novel,
Good Enough, was published in 2008 by HarperCollins. It made the 2009 New York Public Library Stuff for the Teen Age book list, the 2009 Cooperative
Children’s Book Center Choice list, and won Honorable Mention at the Asian
Pacific American Librarians’ Association 2009 Book Awards.

Paula is also a TV writer. Her credits include NBC’s The West Wing and
LIFETIME’s Side Order of Life. When not writing, Paula is a freelance
musician (violin) and plays with many classical ensembles and rock bands.


Featured Book:
Shining Star: The Anna May Wong Story
by Paula Yoo
Illustrated by Lin Wang

Born in 1905, Anna May Wong spent her childhood working in her family’s
laundry in Los Angeles’s Chinatown. Whenever she could afford it, Anna May
slipped off to the movies, escaping to a world of adventure, glamour, and
excitement. After seeing a movie being filmed in her neighborhood, young
Anna May was hooked. She decided she would become a movie star!

Anna May struggled to pursue an acting career in Hollywood in the 1930s.
There were very few roles for Asian Americans, and many were demeaning and
stereotypical. Anna May made the most of each limited part. She worked
hard and always gave her best performance. Finally, after years of
unfulfilling roles, Anna May began crusading for more meaningful roles for
herself and other Asian American actors.

Anna May Wong—the first Chinese American movie star—was a pioneer of the
cinema. Her spirited determination in the face of discrimination is an
inspiration to all who must overcome obstacles so that their dreams may
come true.

Q: When was the very first moment the idea for NaPiBoWriWee entered
your brain?
A: I was frustrated because I hadn’t had time in the past year to
work on a new picture book idea. I kept procrastinating because it always
seemed like I had too many other projects I was working on, from script
assignments to promoting my novel Good Enough (HarperCollins ’08) last
year on my book tour. I was also doing the final revisions for my latest
book, Shining Star: The Anna May Wong Story (Lee & Low Books 2009). But I never seemed to have enough time to sit down and write a new picture book. And I had so many ideas in my head! So at the end of April, I FINALLY
finished all my other work. And that’s when the thought, “I wonder if I
can write seven picture books in seven days?” came to my mind, and I
couldn’t get that thought out of my head. It began as a private fun
challenge for myself, and then when I emailed some friends, they expressed
interest in joining me. And then I thought, heck, why not blog about it
for fun? And I was inspired by the famous “NaNoWriMo” – aka National Novel
Writing Month ( and thought, “Why not do a picture book
version of that for fun?” So hence, NaPiBoWriWee (National Picture Book
Writing Week) was born!

Q: How long did it take you to prepare to launch this event?
A: Uh, maybe two days? I knew May 1st was coming up, and for some
reason, May 1-7 seemed like a fun easy date to remember. So I realized I
only had a few days before May 1st, so I wrote a blog and posted it
immediately. I think I just wrote the first blog announcement of
NaPiBoWriWee in an hour or so. Now, mind you, this was because I thought
only myself and a couple friends would do this crazy idea. I had no idea
that it would snowball into HUNDREDS of people all over the world
participating! Within 24 hours of the original blog being posted, I had
dozens of emails and hundreds of people signing up on my website. It
spread like wildfire! I was so shocked! And I was also so inspired by
everyone’s excitement and enthusiasm, so I got a little obsessed with it,
posting multiple blogs every day and keeping in touch with various writers
and newbies and even veteran writers who wanted to partake in the fun. I
even started a store with some fun souvenirs like T-shirts and buttons!
And there will be a NaPiBoWriWee “reunion” at the national SCBWI
conference this August! It turned out to be such a wonderful event and I
feel I have made some long-lasting online friendships with several
participants. It also taught me a lot about website promotion and how
hungry people are to find a supportive community of writers. I definitely
plan to up the ante for next year’s NaPiBoWriWee and will start preparing
for it way in advance. So mark your calendars for next year! 🙂

Q: How did you start blogging for SCBWI?
A: I was asked to be one of the SCBWI TEAM BLOG members by Alice
Pope who is editor of the Children’s Writers & Illustrators Market. I was on the faculty last year for the national conference. This year, I am an
official blogger who will interview panelists and post articles on a daily
basis about the conference. So bookmark my website for that event! The
other official SCBWI TEAM BLOG folks are:


Q: Share one tip you’d like to give to a children’s author who want
to make it big through blogging as well.
A: You must blog every single day. Or at least several times
a week. Your blog has to be active and always refreshed with new content
on a regular basis in order for it to succeed. Your audience will expect
new material and keep checking back for new entries. If your blog has been
“dead” for more than a week or two, your audience loses interest – and
faith – and stops visiting. Plus the more active your blog, the higher it
will appear in those google type searches. I noticed when I started
blogging on a regular basis, my website became the first search item when
you put my name into the search engine. So the best tip I have is to write
daily – or at least regularly – on your blog in order for it to succeed.
It’s tough but it’s worth it!

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