Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Asian Blogger Spotlight: Meet Kristan from We Heart YA + Giveaway!

Today for All Things Asian I get to spotlight Asian blogger Kristan from We Heart YA!

Not only is Kristan a blogger but she's also an author! Her book Twenty-Somewhere was the winner of the St. Martin's Press "New Adult" contest! So take some time to read about how Kristan got into blogging (before it was even called blogging!), her advice to other bloggers, and what her favorite Asian related books are.

What got you into blogging?

Believe it or not, I got my first computer when I was 2 and 1/2! I think I wanted one because my parents were always on them (for work) and I wanted to be "cool" like them. We were early adopters of the internet (anyone still use AOL? anyone remember Prodigy?) and I made my first website at age 9. It was dedicated to my favorite things (Star Trek, the Spice Girls, and Sailor Moon) but I quickly realized that other people were making much better websites about that stuff, so I switched to writing about myself. It was a blog before that term even existed.

My style and content has changed a lot over the years (from childhood ramblings, to teenage angst, and now "grownup" thoughts) but at the core, it's always about self-expression and reflection. My personal blog (about writing, reading, my dog, travel, etc.) is at kristanhoffman.com, and I discuss Young Adult literature with 3 great friends at weheartya.com.

What advice would you give to another blogger?
#1: Stick with your passions. If you're really into something, that's what you're going to be able to blog about week after week, and that dedication and enthusiasm is what's going to attract readers.

#2: Experiment. Have fun. Or as Miss Frizzle from the Magic School Bus would say, "Get messy! Make mistakes!" The neat thing about blogs is that they grow and change along with us. There's no reason to be embarrassed about your early posts, just like there's no reason to be embarrassed if you liked Barney as a kid. It's natural. Eventually you'll settle in to your own blogging voice, but in the meantime, play around, emulate other bloggers that you admire, try new features, etc.

What were your favorite books as a kid?
As a girl, my favorite books were Anne of Green Gables (1-5) by Lucy Maud Montgomery. As a teen, I glommed onto the capital-L literary scene, with books like Beloved by Toni Morrison or Blindness by Jose Saramago. But I've always read widely, from romance to mystery, scifi to the classics. I think being open-minded to all genres has served me well, both as a writer and as a person.

What are some of your favorite books with Asian characters?
This might seem like a copout answer, but it's true! Amy Tan's books are probably my favorite "Asian" books. The Joy Luck Club is good, but I actually like the movie better. (Probably because I watched it two dozen times growing up, no lie.) My favorites are The Bonesetter's Daughter, followed by The Opposite of Fate (her memoir) and The Hundred Secret Senses (which features a halfie like me). Amy Tan just has a way of portraying Asian culture and mother-daughter relationships so simply and genuinely. It's like looking into a mirror.  

Do you think Asian characters and/or authors are prominent enough in young adult fiction?
No. I think we're making progress, but it's slow. Malinda Lo, Cindy Pon, and Marie Lu all come to mind as successful, prominent authors in YA, but characters? Where are the Asian Bellas and Katnisses? And where are the Asian guys, whether writers or heroes?

(Well, I do have ONE answer to that. My friend Andrew Fukuda is a male, Asian YA writer. His forthcoming series THE HUNT is getting some good buzz.)

To some extent, we as the Asian community need to be responsible for bringing these people to light. We have to encourage our stories and our writers, and then we need to buy their books to show the publishing industry that there is a demand.  

Do you think there needs to be more diversity in young adult fiction?
Yes. Again, we're making progress, but it's slow. And when I say "diversity," I don't just mean ethnic books. It's about diversity of experiences. Characters who are rich, poor, smart, dumb, white, black, yellow, green, urban, rural, American, international, and everything in between.

As a side note, I would like to add that not all of these diverse characters need to have stories that focus on their diversity. I think it would be great to see stories about action heroines, or awkward guys, or sports stars, who just HAPPEN to be Asian or gay, etc.
How close would you say you are to Asian culture?

Not as close as I'd like to be, but at the same time, closer than I sometimes realize.

As a halfie, I've always felt somewhere in between. Put me with a bunch of white people, and I'll look out of place. Put me with a bunch of Chinese people, and the same thing. Most of the time I feel lucky, because I get the best of both worlds, but every now and then I'm reminded that that means I don't fully belong in either one.

(Note: Not every halfie feels this way!)

Interestingly, my boyfriend is an adopted Korean, so he looks fully Asian but was raised completely American. We are both in between, but in very different ways. And over the years as we've gotten to know each other, moved in together, and talked about a future family, I can see how much of an influence my Taiwanese mother had on my upbringing. Things that I thought were normal, he thinks are totally weird.

I'm very proud of my Asian heritage, but I will say that the biggest disconnect for me is my inability to speak Mandarin. This has been one of my great disappointments in life, and has prevented me from bonding with most of my mother's family back in Taiwan. Learning to speak Chinese is still a goal of mine, and I hope that someday, achieving it will allow me to feel even closer to my Asian culture.

Thanks for the great interview Kristan! Be sure to go check out the blog that Kristan helps collaborates on here and also check out her website here.

And now it's time for a GIVEAWAY!!!!

Remember that I mentioned that Kristan is an author? Well she's giving 2 lucky blog readers an ebook copy of her episodic novel Twenty-Somewhere.

Twenty-Somewhere tells the story of three best friends as they navigate life after college. Beautiful and confident Sophie Lin, goody goody aspiring writer Claudia Bradford, and boy-crazy nerd MJ Alexander are ready to take on the Real World -- or so they think. 

But MJ's hunky lab supervisor keeps distracting her from her research, and what's worse, she almost doesn't care. After years of single-minded focus, MJ may have lost her passion for science, and her sense of self along with it. Meanwhile Claudia's passion for writing is stronger than ever, but her confidence is drowning in a sea of rejection. Her boyfriend Eli is supposed to be a life preserver; instead he feels like just another wave pulling her under. Last but not least, Sophie decides to swim against the current: she quits her advertising job in pursuit of a more meaningful vocation. Six weeks later, all she has to show for her idealism is a growing stack of unpaid bills. 

As their relationships go sour, their careers sputter, and a few too many ethical dilemmas arise, the girls reunite in Paris, desperate for a dose of the one thing they can always count on: each other. But after so much time apart, will that really cure what ails them? Or will their friendship fall apart like everything else in their lives? 

Sounds awesome right? To win just fill out the Rafflecopter form below! This giveaway is open internationally.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

May the odds be ever in your favor!

Be sure to hit up our All Things Asian event page for all the posts and giveaways! Click HERE to see more awesomeness. (And no, you don't have to be Asian to participate!) And don't forget to check out iLive, iLaugh, iLove Books and My Words Ate Me today for more posts!

Julia :)


  1. I love the pictures. :) I follow Kristan and her blog so it's nice to hear about more of her experiences.

    I never really thought that much about Asian authors. But I enjoy reading about other cultures and from many perspectives, so I'm looking forward to seeing what happens in the future.

  2. Thanks for sharing, Kristan! Love hearing more about your thoughts on Asian culture. :)

  3. I identify with so many of Kristan's answers! Congrats on her book's publication! (commenting as Justine)

  4. Thanks, guys! The interview was a blast and really got me thinking too. I'm loving this All Things Asian celebration. :)


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...