Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Interview with Lisa Yee

One of my favorite male protagonist from 2009 was Bobby Ellis-Chan from Bobby vs. Girls (Accidentally) by Lisa Yee. This year Bobby is back in Bobby The Brave (Sometimes). A wonderful continuation of Bobby's adventures in growing up. It was also my Middle Grade fiction Cybils nomination.

Author Lisa Yee was kind enough to answer a few questions.

1. Hello Lisa. - If Bobby had a Dr. Seuss's "My Book About Me" journal, what would Bobby say about Bobby?

Bobby would say, "I am a boy. I'm not the tallest or shortest in my class. My hair is a mess, but it's not worth combing since it'll just get messy again. I live in a house in Rancho Rosetta, California, America, Earth. And my name is Robert, but I like it best when people call me "Bobby."

2. Bobby The Brave (sometimes) is the second book in the Bobby Ellis Chan series. Like the first one, I loved it because Bobby comes across as very real.

Does Bobby ever surprise you? Did you know he would a skateboarder?

The kindness Bobby shows to his little sister surprised me. I knew he was a nice boy, but as I was creating his character, I realized that unlike a lot of siblings who fight, he is patient with Casey. I wanted this to balance out his relationship with his moody teenage sister, Annie.

As for skateboarding, that I did know about! The book is very loosely based on my son when he was in fourth grade, and he's a skater. (For the record, I skateboarded when I was a kid. But it was basically, go up the street. Get off the the board. Turn around. Go down the street. Repeat.)

3. Bobby is such a great big brother. Bobby's family and friends are as important to these stories as Bobby. How much time did you take developing them?

It took me weeks to develop Bobby's world. However, the one thing I knew from the start was that Bobby was going to have parents who loved each other, and a family that (mostly) got along. I also wanted him to have good friends, including one who was a girl. With this backdrop, I knew that I could create situations for Bobby where even though he has a strong support system, he still felt alone at times.

I've heard from so many kids who say they can relate to Bobby, especially when he gets sad or embarrassed.

4. Its obivous a lot of care went into all the of the characters. Santat's illustrations are great. The facial expressions are always spot on perfect (even the gnome and the fish on the cover)

Its not easy finding middle grade novels (fantasy not included) with male protagonist for ages 8 up. With the artwork, short chapters and stories less then 180 pages, this series is geared toward children beginning to read longer novels.

Did you know this middle grade void existed? Did you consciously set out to help fill it?

I had no idea there was a void in this category until after I had written the first book! I just wanted to write something that my son would have loved to read when he was in the fourth grade--and actually the series was his idea.

He said to me, "Why don't you write a book with not a lot of commotion, like that Cleary woman." Of course he meant the great Beverly Cleary. So I set about to write something about the ups and downs of elementary school, with no vampires, epic battles, or weapons.

5.Will we ever get to see the 27 toes of the cat that terrorizes Bobby's neighborhood?

LOL! That remains to be seen

6. How many books do you have planned in this series ?

There is no set number planned, but the first book took place in September, and the second one was in October. So perhaps there's a pattern there. However, right now my focus is on a new middle grade novel that's completely different from anything I've done before. It's very exciting, but I can't talk about it yet because I don't want to jinx it!

7.Can you tell us a little about your next middle grade novel Warp Speed?

Warp Speed is about a kid named Marley Sandelski, a Star Trek geek who is beat up everyday at school. This book picks up where the Millicent Min trilogy left off. In Marley's story, he's a nobody until something unforeseen and tragic occurs - then suddenly everyone knows who he is. Only, Marley doesn't do well in the spotlight and wishes that he could be invisible again.

Lisa, thanks so much for your time. I am looking forward to reading many more of your books. I will end by confessing I enjoy visiting your blog to see what Peepy is up to and all the famous people she's meeting.

If any one if marking their 2011 calenders, Warp Speed is scheduled to be released in March.


rhapsodyinbooks said...

Great questions, Doret! I'm so glad to see someone writing to fill in the missing gap (MG novels aside from fantasies with male protagonists).

Lisa Yee said...

Loved doing the interview, Doret!

Doret said...

Thanks Jill. Children's fantasy is so popular but there is still room for more options

Thanks again Lisa. I am hitting myself over the head for not asking about Bobby's asthma attack.

Anonymous said...

Nice, Doret! I'm glad you've decided to stay with the interviews!