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Interview with Nicola Yoon

James Gilmore interviews the New York Times Bestselling author before the release of her first major motion picture film...

Interview with Nicola Yoon

Nicola Yoon

James Gilmore

W!ZARD News Author

Nicola Yoon is quickly becoming one of the definitive authors of our generation.

The New York Times Bestselling Author of Everything Everything and The Sun Is Also A Star waited 22 years before writing the book which would lead her to become a role model in the eyes of millions.

Born in Jamaica, and now living in Los Angeles with her family, Yoon is soon to see her debut (Everything Everything) turned into a major motion picture film later this year, being released by Warner Bros.

James Gilmore spoke to the author about her books, and the positive impact she is making around the world.

JG: Everything Everything came out and became an almost instant hit. It’s going to be a major motion picture film later this year; it was a #1 New York Times Bestselling novel. What does that feel like, having your piece of work so well received?

NY: You know, it was just one of those happy… overwhelming things. It sometimes feels surreal! If I catch myself in a moment, I can’t really believe that this is happening – especially the movie part, another piece of art that is being made from the book. I mean, it’s been really brilliant… but sometimes I do pinch myself, I can’t quite believe that this is my life right now.

JG: One of the things that is incredible about both of your books, and you as an author, is how you’re able to relate to teens. Almost, as if we were sitting in a room together and you were one of our peers. Is that something that you have actively tried to do, or is it something you just found you have a knack for?

NY: Well, I like to think that I am still kind of a kid… right?! So I relate to teenagers in the way that I am always questioning the world and trying to figure out my place in it, which I think teenagers do naturally… they’re naturally philosophical. So, I think that something that I do in my books – just trying to figure out your part in the world, what you want from life, who you want to be in the world. Also, I really am one of those freaky authors who is always listening to conversations and trying to write them down! Listening to your arguments, and I’m always paying attention.

JG: Where do you usually find inspiration for your books? Sometimes, especially with books such as Everything Everything, it’s so creative and the concepts are so incredible that I sit here reading my book and I’m like: What on earth could have inspired you to make this?

NY: Thank You! Everything Everything came from having my little girl, my first child. She was four months old when I thought of it and that came out of just being a very nervous Mum. I was convinced that she was going to eat dirt and crawl out of the house and get sick and I started thinking about what life would be like for a girl who was allergic to everything. That’s where that came from.

In terms of inspiration in general, I just keep a note book full of ideas and whenever something strikes me, I write it down and whichever ones I read back the most are probably the ones that will end up as short stories, or as books… but it’s something I keep track of as I’m going through the day.

JG: It’s a lot of people’s dream from a young age to be a bestselling author – what has been your journey to get this point?

NY: I actually didn’t work in writing for a long time! I was a electrical engineering major in college and then I worked in finance doing analysis and computer programming for around 22 years. So, it took a long time to actually get to this point. Writing was always my big dream but I didn’t really think it was something I could do and make a living with. I didn’t really think it’s something that people ‘did’ – if that makes sense? It seemed like an impossible dream. Honestly, I didn’t know that aNY of this happened. I had no notion that you could be a ‘bestselling author’.

One day I was sitting there, thinking that I would one day I would tell my daughter that should could do aNYthing she wanted and have a big dream and follow your dreams… and I wasn’t doing that! So that’s what made me go back to writing and I decided that I would give it a shot.

My advice to aNYone is to just give it a shot. What was holding me back before was just not doing it all.

JG: Amazing! Your latest book is The Sun Is Also A Star. For our listeners who have not read Everything Everything but haven’t read this book yet, what is it about?

NY: It’s about Daniel, who is a very poetic boy and Natasha who is a very science-minded girl. They meet and fall in love over the course of 12 hours in New York City. Natasha’s family is being deported and to Jamaica at the end of the day. So, that’s my elevator pitch!

JG: Obviously there are a lot of themes in the book that are quite relevant to some of the struggles that some people are facing in the world today. At a time when a lot of people are finding it very difficult to make sense of the world, did writing this book help you?

NY: You know, I started writing the book a while before a lot of the difficulties that you’re referring to happened. But I have found that it’s resonating a lot now with audiences and I think one of the things I wanted to do with the book was take the large issues like immigration and diversity and really bring them down to the human level?

When we talk about these things we talk about policies and politics, and we talk about headlines. But, really what we’re talking about is people and there are people just like you and I – they have hopes and dreams, just like aNYbody else, they are wonderful and flawed in the same way as everyone else. I really just wanted to humanise these big political ideas and say that these people, in a sense, are your neighbours, they’re your family and they’re the people you love. We should pay attention to them in that way.

JG: That’s one of the reasons this book has resonated with so maNY people! When you find out from readers and fans that you have managed to impact their lives in such a positive way, like you have done with these books… how does that make you feel?

NY: Honestly, this is the best part of the job! I have a contact form on my website (WEBSITE LINK) and I get lots and lots of emails from people saying that the books have meant a lot to them. I remember when I was a kid and reading things that really influenced me or changed my life – it would have meant the world to me to reach out the author to say what it meant. So, I really appreciate when I get the emails. As I say, it’s the best part of the job and it really makes my day every time!

JG: It’s been incredible speaking to you today. I feel inspired just talking to you! Without putting too much pressure (you’ve got a major motion picture film coming out soon!)… what can we expect next?

NY: I am working on anther book, but I’m not allowed to say aNYthing about it under punishment of death! But, I am writing right now.

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