A humorous, debut novel about a Korean-American teenager who accidentally lands her own column in her high school newspaper, and proceeds to rant her way through the school year while struggling to reconcile the traditional Korean values of her parents with contemporary American culture.
Maurene Goo was born and raised in Los Angeles, California, where she navigated her childhood by practicing extreme bossy Lord-dom over her many cousins. She studied communication at the University of California, San Diego, and received a master’s degree in publishing and writing at Emerson College. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and a very old cat. You can visit her online at www.maurenegoo.com.
If you could travel in a Time Machine would you go back to the past or into the future?
Definitely the past. I romanticize the past so much—objects, events, people. For some reason the future doesn’t interest me in the same way, I feel like so much about ourselves is rooted in what’s happened before.
What was your favorite book when you were a child/teen?
The entire Baby-Sitters Club series. To this day, I know those characters like they’re flesh and blood friends I’ve had my entire life. One of the best experiences of my life was when I got to interview Ann M. Martin for a magazine.
Who are your favorite authors of all time?
In no particular order: Ann M. Martin, Jane Austen, E.M. Forster, David Sedaris, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Dave Eggers, Zadie Smith, Elinor Lipman, Meg Cabot, L.M. Montgomery, Nicole Krauss, Richard Yates, Dorothy Parker, Judy Blume, Beverly Cleary, Jhumpa Lahiri, Jon Krakauer, Vladimir Nabokov, Louis Sacher
Give us a glimpse into a typical day in your day starting when you wake up till you lie down again.
I am not a morning person so I usually wake up around 10 am. My husband is already awake and has made me a cup of coffee. I turn on my computer and catch up on emails, tweets, blogs, and other social media. Then I finally dig into work—either freelance or writing. My husband and I both work from home, so then we usually take a lunch break together. Sometimes my husband makes us grilled cheese and salads, or we’ll go out. I have a few friends that I meet for lunch every week or so, too. Then I go back to my computer and work work work. Coffee break sometime mid-day. Also sometimes this is the part of day where I’ll get stir-crazy and head to a café or do some garden tasks to wake myself up again. Or run errands. Then it’s back to working until evening, when I go work out, or if I feel lazy, until dinnertime—which my husband usually cooks (see a pattern here?!). I try to have all work done by then, but if not I’ll continue working until 10 or 11. When I do finish work, I’ll be hanging out with friends or my husband—having drinks, watching a movie, or just sitting around talking. Since Netflix started streaming THE WEST WING, my husband and I have watched one or two episodes every single night before bed, we call it “White House Workout” because it’s when my husband does his physical therapy for his bad knee. (EXCITING!) Then I try to read (most likely a book in the GAME OF THRONES series which I am still trying to finish!) before bed—which is usually between 1 and 2 am. Written out like this, my day sounds so boring but I wouldn’t have it any other way!
Living in L.A., I’m obsessed with the smell of jasmine. It grows like a weed here, and the scent is especially strong in the summertime, I love it.
Favorite quote from a movie?
“Stay cool! Stay cool forever.”– Beautiful Girls
If you could take over the world, would you?
Yes. Haha, I get so incredibly frustrated by inefficiency and terrible people that I wish that I had the power to fix everything. I have a problem with this—wanting to fix things beyond my control. I was always a bossy kid.
Do you prefer to write in silence or with music?
Favorite historical person?
If you were sick/stuck in bed, what comfort food would you want and what author would you want to read?
I would want this very traditional Korean soup my dad makes called “dduk guk” which is a beef-broth based soup with rice cake, dumplings, and brisket. So delicious and feels like home. And an author that makes me feel instantly cozy is Maeve Binchy. I went through a embarrassing period in my life when I thought I was secretly Irish because of how much I loved the cozy yet dramatic worlds she created.
Which of your characters is a portrayal of you?
If you were on Death Row what would your last meal be?
I was born ready for this question. I think about it almost everyday. For sure, it’s Korean barbeque. But with all the fixings—so the thinly sliced beef with the dipping sauces, a bowl of cold noodle soup, kimchi, and lettuce. Preferably all prepared by my dad.
What words or expression do you overuse?
OMG. It’s a reaction that applies to so many feelings, and it’s also just inherently funny.
What is your favorite scene in the book? Which scene or characters were the most difficult for you to write and why?
My favorite scene is in the Vegas Christmas section—when Holly finds the little boy at the Bellagio fountains and gets kind of swept up in the manufactured beauty of Las Vegas. She has spent the entire book hating her vacation, but she’s kind of humbled by seeing how happy everyone is around her. It was a very thoughtful moment for her, to realize that she was so judgmental about what made other people happy. As for the most difficult scene—the big fight with her mom in the end. I used to fight a lot with my mom in high school, and it really pained me to go back into that headspace and relive all of it. I really regret how bratty I was with my mom to this day, so it was very emotional for me. Hopefully that translates into authenticity, though.
Do you write as you go or do you have the book all planned out from page 1?
I am definitely a write-as-you-go type. For me, it’s just the easiest way to write. And I think my writing is best when I do it that way. However, I’m less die-hard than I used to be in the past, because I’ve grown to realize the benefits to actually having a plan—the hard way. But my instinct is always to write as you go, and not even that, but edit as you go, too. It’s probably not a good thing!
Most embarrassing moment?
I have so many. But one that is maybe in my top 3 is when I first dated my husband, he lived in a house with a bunch of friends. We were about to go on a night bike ride, and there was this crowd of guys hanging out being macho talking about cars in front of the house. And I’m sitting on my bike wearing these flimsy drawstring pants. All of a sudden, his roommate’s puppy bolts out of the house and into the street. So wihout thinking, I shout the dog’s name, getting the attention of everyone around me, and leap off my bike to run after him…and my pants fall off into a puddle at my feet. Like effortlessly falls in two seconds flat. Also, did I mention I was under a lone street lamp? My pants literally fell off in front of a group of guys. I’m dying just thinking about this again.
Do your friends or enemies ever find themselves in your books?
My friends, for sure. I try not to model any one character too closely on anyone, if only because that’s boring. But a little bit of my friends are found in all my characters. In SINCE YOU ASKED, Holly’s best friends are mash-ups of my closest friends. With many fictional characteristics thrown in of course. As for enemies—not that I have a billion—but I try not to give them any power by basing characters on them, if that makes sense. People I hate don’t have the privilege of living on in print, sorry! Although, there are definitely injustices that have happened to me or other people I know that make their way into the book. It’s a way to channel my rage productively!