Friday, January 24, 2020

Lyla Lee Interview - Mindy Kim and the Yummy Seaweed Business

Photo Content from Lyla Lee

Lyla Lee is the author of the Mindy Kim series as well as the upcoming YA novel, I’ll Be The One (Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins). Although she was born in a small town in South Korea, she’s since then lived in various parts of the United States, including California, Florida, and Texas. Inspired by her English teacher, she started writing her own stories in fourth grade and finished her first novel at the age of fourteen. After working various jobs in Hollywood and studying Psychology and Cinematic Arts at the University of Southern California, she now lives in Dallas, Texas. When she is not writing, she is teaching kids, petting cute dogs, and searching for the perfect bowl of shaved ice.


What is your happiest childhood memory?
My happiest childhood memories are the summers I spent with my grandparents in South Korea. Because my parents and I moved to the United States when I was five, I rarely saw my grandparents (we only visited once every four years), but when I did, it was always a treat because I loved spending entire days with them, no matter what we did. I still vividly remember the days I spent with them, whether we played with dogs, walked in the neighborhood park while identifying various plants and animals, played board games, watched Korean dramas, or even just enjoyed each other's company in silence. I treasured every moment as a kid, and will continue to do so as an adult.

Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published.
My most rewarding experience has definitely been visiting elementary schools and meeting face-to-face with real kids. Many of them have told me how much they can relate with Mindy, whether it be because they’ve been the new kid, too, or simply just because they love dogs, like seaweed snacks, are Asian, etc. It’s been so great to see them excited about my books and/or reading in general.


  • 1.) Mindy's "yummy seaweed business" was based on a real life seaweed business that I started with a friend in fourth grade.
  • 2.) Mindy's shoes (pink crocs with cute animal pins) are based on real shoes that one of my students wore.
  • 3.) Mindy loves dogs and wants to buy her dad a puppy to cheer him up.
  • 4.) Mindy's school is based on the school I went to in northeastern Florida.
  • 5.) Many of Mindy's experiences in school, such as the moment when the kids at her school point and laugh at her Korean food lunch, are based on real experiences I had as a kid.
  • 6.) Mindy loves all kinds of dogs, both big and small.
  • 7.) Mindy emphasizes that she is seven and a half years old because I remembered how much of a big deal that "half" was to Kid Me.
  • 8.) Mindy's dad is a widower, and much of the story is about how he and Mindy still try to make the most out of their new life in Florida despite their recent family tragedy. Although both of my parents are still alive, this aspect of the story is based on my own experiences with grief and loss with other family members who passed away when I was young.
  • 9.) Mindy's wish to get a puppy for her birthday is based on my childhood wish to get a puppy for my birthday.
  • 10.) The most common question I get from readers (both adults and children) after they finish Mindy Kim and the Yummy Seaweed Business is, "So when does Mindy get her puppy???" Mindy finally gets a puppy in Book 3 of the Mindy Kim series, Mindy Kim and the Birthday Puppy, which comes out this May.
What do you hope for readers to be thinking when they read your novel?
I hope readers--especially younger ones--will be able to relate with Mindy or feel invested in her life/story. I also hope they will feel less lonely knowing that they'll always have a friend in Mindy, like how I thought of many book characters as friends when I was a kid.

You have the chance to give one piece of advice to your readers. What would it be?
Be your #1 fan. The journey to achieving your dreams will be rough and long, and chances are, many people will say no to you before they'll say yes. That's why it's so important to believe in yourself and be kind to yourself so you can not only work your hardest to achieve your goals but also be healthy, happy, and well. You deserve all the good things.

Alyson Heller at Aladdin has acquired at auction, Lyla Lee’s debut chapter book series, pitched as FRESH OFF THE BOAT meets JUNIE B. JONES, the first book entitled MINDY KIM AND THE YUMMY SEAWEED BUSINESS, in which a Korean American second grader moves to a mostly Caucasian Florida community. In an effort to adjust to her new school, she starts a snack trading ring with the Korean food from her lunch to make new friends. Publication is set for Spring 2020, Summer 2020, & Fall 2020; Penny Moore at Empire Literary negotiated the deal for World Rights.

You can purchase Mindy Kim and the Yummy Seaweed Business at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you LYLA LEE for making this giveaway possible.
1 Winner will receive a Copy of Mindy Kim and the Yummy Seaweed Business by Lyla Lee.