About the book:
Twelve-year-old Paris Pan's life is a mess. She's just moved to a tiny town in Nowheresville, Oklahoma; her family life is a comical disaster; her new friends are more like frenemies; and the boy she has a crush on is a dork. Things couldn't possibly get worse, until she discovers that a girl mysteriously died years ago while taking a seventh-grade rite of passage–the Dare– right near Paris's new house. So when Paris starts hearing strange noises coming from the creepy run-down shed in her backyard, she thinks they could be a message from the ghost of a girl. But while she has no plans to make contact with the great beyond, her two new friends have other thoughts. Everyone who's anyone takes the Dare, and now it's Paris's turn.
An Interview with Cynthea Liu:
Me: What were your favorite books (or types of books) as a teen, and what was it about them that appealed to you? What, on the other hand, would make you put a book down?
Cynthea: I am sad to report, I didn't read many books as a teen, and if I did it was mostly adult fiction. Science Fiction! (Dean Koontz was one of my favorite authors then.) I'm a sucker for great suspense novels with that element of surprise. People in danger. Lives to save!
What makes me put a book down? Usually overwritten books. Books that just say the same thing over and over again, or go on and on about the same thing that really isn't necessary, like you're trapped in a novel that's stuck on Repeat. It's hard for me to get past that!
Me: Have your reading tastes stayed the same, or have you discovered new loves and peeves (and if so, what are they)?
Cynthea: These days, I'm very into early chapter books. Young middle grade stuff that doesn't have any other goal but to entertain! It's nice to read something without feeling you're supposed to learn something, too. I especially love books packed with humor.
Me: What was your favorite part of writing PARIS PAN TAKES THE DARE, and what was the hardest?
Cynthea: I have to say, writing the basketball scene was the best time of my writing life. In the final version, it's condensed somewhat, but the first draft I wrote kept me chuckling out loud. It was so easy for me to picture in my head since I wasn't such a great b-ball player myself as a kid. It's not often that I'll point at my computer screen and laugh at what I wrote. (LOSER!). Usually I just frown the whole time.
The hardest had to be scenes with Robin. Given that she doesn't talk a lot, it kind of gives you only so many choices when it comes to dialogue. I had to figure out ways to get her to communicate in a manner that would be right for her. So I remember dreading writing a Robin scene because I'd have to spend hours mulling over what an eyebrow raise might be able to connote, given the right context.
Me: Did you draw on any people/places/experiences from your life while writing?
Cynthea: For sure. Watch the movie and you'll find the answer to that question.
Me: What was the most exciting moment during the publishing process? The scariest?
Cynthea: Getting an agent was very exciting. It's one of the first times your writing will be validated by someone within the industry. Landing the contract was also intense. Having multiple publishers vy for your book is the biggest flatter of all. That book is PARIS PAN TAKES THE DARE, which is coming out this June!
Me: What are you working on now?
Cynthea: Funny you should ask. I'm celebrating the release of Paris Pan, of course. The big party is happening now through July 5, 2009. It's called Take the Dare: Show You Care, and we're raising money to support a Title I school in my home state of Oklahoma. So come on down and Take the Dare. I DARE YOU! Everyone goes home with a prize just for attending. Now THAT's what I call a party.
Hope you enjoyed getting to know Cynthea! More interviews to come next month. :)