Once upon a time, adult and young adult novelist Suzanne Park swore by the technique of writing every day. Now, after five published books and counting, The Christmas Clash (October 4, Sourcebooks Fire) author has an evolved take. “The idea at the time was if you write every day, if you write a page a day—it doesn’t have to be every single day—just means five days out of the seven days, by the end you’d have end up with 250 pages if you’re writing every day for a year. You’ll have a book. I did that for many years, but when the pandemic hit, everything blew up. I was like ‘Aw, man, I can’t even write.’”
Though she managed to produce five books since the pandemic (all of which were included in multiple “Best of” lists in literary publications and beyond), she struggled with the routine she once abided by. Instead, she found the process erratic.
“I would probably revise that advice to say do something book related every day,” the former stand-up comedian says. “Like, if you need to get some research done, keep that contained because you can research forever and never start your book. Maybe one day you spend an hour or two just getting some background…or you outline, or you read some craft books that deal with ‘showing versus telling’ because you’re about to go into the section where it’s all dialogue and you need to show more things.”
In her fifth novel, Christmas Clash, readers are immersed in the coming-of-age story of two very smart and hardworking teenagers Chloe and Peter who are rivals but unite to save their local mall. Growing up, they were well aware that their families detested each other and followed suit. It turns out their feud is beyond them being restaurant competitors at Riverwood Mall. Once Chloe and Peter discover a major development, they are pulled together for a greater cause all while navigating family, friendship, education, employment, their future, and life as two Asian American teens in the United States.
Park is passionate about telling stories of Asian Americans and adding to their representation. She also believes it is important for readers to connect with a book in ways that are not just cultural. One of her favorite messages from a reader is about one of her previous titles Sunny Song Will Never Be Famous (which is being adapted into a movie), in which the teen protagonist is shipped off to a digital detox camp for a month after her headmaster threatens to expel her for one of her viral social media videos. In the book, Sunny has to reflect on what is truly important to her in life.
“A reader wrote me and said she’s a teenager who’s a junior in high school,” Park recounts. “She read my book, thinking it had a cute cover, finished it in one sitting, and decided that she was going to use her phone less, and be outside more, when she is not an outdoorsy person. And then she joined the rugby varsity team at her school, and you’re thinking ‘Wow, a book did that.’
And she’s not Korean American. She’s not Asian American, but she read my book and got something from it…all I wanted is to have people read the book, enjoy it, and it is targeted to people who are either reluctant readers or just want a really fun, fast read that kind of competes against their Netflix or their games or something else that is probably a fast-paced, kind of quick, binge-able, consumable thing. That’s kind of who I’m trying to get to read more.”
Check out the interview to learn more about Park including her journey from stand-up to publishing, more of her favorite writing techniques, the most challenging scene she had to write in Christmas Clash, Asian American literature including what she loves and would like to see more of, how the illustrations have culturally improved, how Asian American readers and writers respond to her work, her next book The Do-Over (Avon, HarperCollins, April 4, 2023), and more! For more information, visit Park’s official website.