The very first author in my Asian American Children’s Author series this year is I.W. Gregorio. Dr. Gregorio is a surgeon, a writer, and a founding member of the phenomenal We Need Diverse Books team, and I am super excited to have her on my blog this week.
Her debut YA novel, None of the Above comes out next week(!), so be sure to pre-order your copy from Amazon or your local independent bookstore.
Here are her responses to my questions:
1) Which of your characters do you most identify with and why?
I.W. Gregorio: It’s funny, but I actually don’t identify with my main character Kristin at all. At the beginning of the book, Kristin is popular and dating the big man on campus – neither of which remotely described me in high school! I probably most identify with the character of Darren, who is kind of nerdy might seem socially awkward at first, but who is actually pretty funny and loyal to a fault.
2) If you could give your Asian American kid readers one piece of advice, what would it be?
IWG: Read widely. If you usually read fantasy, try some contemporary, and vice versa. If you don’t find mirrors, let each book be a window that helps you see the world, and that lets you find a deeper empathy. Don’t be afraid to read books that make your brain hurt, and if you like a book and it makes you think, talk about it (or Tweet about it). Because the best part of reading is the “booktalk,” where you can share what you’ve learned and make a solitary, personal activity into a communal one.
3) Who is your favorite Asian American children’s author or illustrator right now (other than yourself)?
IWG: Grace Lin is an obvious choice, because she went to my high school and I’m loving reading her books to my daughter right now. But I also really love a couple of up-and-coming Asian American authors: Stacey Lee, whose Under a Painted Sky is pitched as Thelma and Louise in the Wild West, and Kelly Loy Gilbert, whose heartbreaking contemporary YA Conviction is about a boy whose conservative talk show father faces a trial for murder. Both received starred reviews from Kirkus!
4)Were you a reader growing up? Why or why not?
IWG: I was a huge reader. I read in the car, at the dinner table, under the sheets of my bed. I lived a pretty isolated childhood, growing up with my grandparents as one of only two Asians in my high school. Books were my soul mates and absolutely shaped me as a person. When I was sad and lonely, I reached for a book. And when I had free time and was happy, I dove into books as well.
About the Author: I.W. Gregorio is a practicing surgeon by day, masked avenging YA writer by night. After getting her MD, she did her residency at Stanford, where she met the intersex patient who inspired her debut novel, None of the Above (Balzer & Bray / HarperCollins, April 7, 2015). She is a founding member of We Need Diverse Books™ and serves as its VP of Development. A recovering ice hockey player, she lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and two children. Find her online at www.iwgregorio.com, and on Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook and Instagram at @iwgregorio.