I had the pleasure of interviewing Kris Hui Lee about her new book, ‘Out of Left Field’!
I’ve also partnered with Kris to do a giveaway of a paperback copy of ‘Out of Left Field’! Head on over to my pinned tweet on Twitter (@cityofglamour17) to enter. You can enter by following me (@cityofglamour17) and Kris (@krishuilee) on Twitter, and RTing that tweet. Bonus entries if you also comment on this blog post!
COURTNEY: What inspired you to write ‘Out of Left Field’?
KRIS: To preface, I first started writing about Marnie and all her shenanigans when I was like, 11, so keep in mind that everything I’m about to say happened when I was about 10 or 11. First, I vaguely remember my dad was watching a softball game on TV, and the announcer guy said something about the pitcher having a killer changeup that confused any batter who came up against it. Inspiration for Marnie–done. Second, in that same game, the announcer later commented on a girl nicknamed The Mouse, for how quickly she scurried around the bases. Inspiration for Sara—done. (In older drafts, Sara was also recruited onto the guys’ team and her nickname was The Fox, for her mad sprint times.) The story of two friends who were badass softball players formed in my head. Other characters soon began populating their world.
This was also around the time the White Sox won the World Series. (I’m from Chicago.) And even though I’m really not a huge sports fan, no one could escape the excitement.
I was also inspired to write, in general, by a middle grade series called Sammy Keyes, written by the amazing Wendelin van Draanen. I talk about how the series inspired me to start writing in this blog post: https://www.thewordfordiversity.org/blog/first-book-loves-with-kris-hui-lee-sammy-keyes-and-the-art-of-deception. Basically, if you read Sammy Keyes, you’ll find that Marnie’s sarcastic, witty voice has its roots in Sammy, who is just as witty and cunning, and also happens to play softball.
COURTNEY: How did you decide on the location that the book takes place in?
KRIS: The quaint suburb Marnie lives in is loosely based on where I grew up. There was a park in walking distance from my house—not unlike Marnie and her sandlot.
COURTNEY: What changed the most from the first draft to the finished copy?
KRIS: Mostly the writing went from terribly unreadable to tolerably readable… 😉 But also, pretty much everything. In the first draft, Marnie and her friends were 13, because I was 11, and 13 seemed so mature and old to me. Also, there wasn’t so much a plot as there was a string of silly situations sometimes involving baseball because I hadn’t quite understood the concept of cause/effect and story arcs. I one day might let loose some excerpts from that mess of word vomit because some of it is actually entertaining, if not well written.
But the one thing that was constant all along was Marnie, Sara, Joey, and Cody, and their turbulent but nevertheless enduring friendships.
COURTNEY: If ‘Out of Left Field’ were to be adapted into a movie, who would be your fan casts?
KRIS: I’m going to be boring and say I have no fan casts. I have very specific images of them in my head. But I’d love to see if other people have fan casts.
COURTNEY: What scene was your favorite to write?
KRIS: For obvious reasons, I loved all the scenes with Cody. But actually one of the most memorable scenes for me to write was when Joey decks Marnie’s rival in the face. He literally just did it of his own accord. It’s hard to explain to someone who’s not a writer, but sometimes characters just do things you don’t expect, like you don’t know it’s going to happen until you literally write the sentence, and that was one of those times. I was like, Okay, I guess you’re punching him in the face. It’s all good. And I just ran with it. I love those moments when characters take on a life of their own, like I’m discovering them rather than creating them.
COURTNEY: Which scene was the hardest for you to write?
KRIS: The hardest scenes were when the main four (Marnie, Cody, Sara, and Joey) fight. Their friendly banter is fun and easy, but when they’re really mad at each other and in a real argument, it’s hard to get the drama without making them seem out of character, especially knowing that they are so close. It’s a fine line.
COURTNEY: Was there a scene that you absolutely loved that you had to end up cutting from the final draft?
KRIS: There have been so many cut scenes that I can’t even remember most of them. But I do miss some characters that I cut from the original drafts. Originally Marnie had two older brothers, and the three of them had a really great sibling relationship. Nick and Marnie still do, but the third brother brought in another dynamic that I miss sometimes. Marnie also had another friend named Vanessa, who was the real captain of the Marnie/Cody ship. She had all sorts of great plots to get them together, but ultimately she had to get cut, and some of her Cupid mojo got transferred to Sara. Vanessa was also the Mom of the group, the only one who was opposed to the other fours’ shenanigans and worried about getting in trouble.
COURTNEY: Do you have any other novels in the works?
KRIS: Ideally I would be able to say yes to this, but I’m in a bit of a writing slump. I have started lots of stories, but they’re not exactly in the works anymore. Just collecting dust. But I feel the writing itch coming back, so hopefully I’ll get a spark of creativity soon.
Thanks for having me on the blog!
HUGE thanks to Kris for coming on my blog for this interview, and for doing this giveaway!
Kris is a contemporary YA author who found success through the online writing contest Pitch Wars in 2015. Her submitted manuscript became her debut novel OUT OF LEFT FIELD, which comes out with Sourcebooks Fire in May 2018. Repped by the badass Courtney Miller-Callihan at Handspun Literary.
See also: Graphic designer, pianist, Ravenclaw, doggo enthusiast, Disney nerd, sushi lover.
4 thoughts on “[AUTHOR INTERVIEW] Interview with Kris Hui Lee, author of ‘Out of Left Field’!”
I always love getting to know new books, and their author behind the book. So this is a great interview and has definitely introduced me to a new book to read. Hopefully the success of this book will bring the spark of writing back as well. Thanks for the chance to win.
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