Monday, November 9, 2020

Shannon Takaoka Interview - Everything I Thought I Knew

Photo Content from Shannon Takaoka

Shannon Takaoka is a young adult fiction author who wrote her first book at age 12, when she blatantly ripped off C.S. Lewis with an epic fantasy inspired by THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE. (Well, maybe it wasn’t that epic — do 10 pages count?) Madeline L’Engle, Charlotte Brontë, Neil Gaiman and a host of other authors inspired her lifelong love of reading, and she’s especially into all things gothic, weird and nerdy. If a story involves time travel, strange science-y stuff or alternate realities, she’s in. 

Originally from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Shannon now lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband, two children and one very needy dog, who is probably leaning on her right now as she’s pecking away on her keyboard. Her debut novel, EVERYTHING I THOUGHT I KNEW, about a 17-year-old girl questioning everything about who she is and who she wants to be following a heart transplant, will be published by Candlewick Press on 10/13/2020 and Walker UK in 2021. She promises that it’s a little weird — but in a good way.


Hardcover : 320 pages
ISBN-10 : 1536207764
ISBN-13 : 978-1536207767
Publisher : Candlewick (October 13, 2020)
Language: : English


“Everything I Thought I Knew is a page-turning, mind-bending story of hope and healing. The reader will root for Chloe from page one as she navigates her world post–heart transplant and tries to meld her prior reality with her new one. I couldn’t put it down; it is a beautiful debut from a talented new voice in YA.” —Alexandra Ballard, author of What I Lost

The thoughtful balance of self-discovery, humor, and realistic relationships will bring in fans of John Green and Nicola Yoon. Readers looking for a good, cathartic cry will love Chloe’s journey from losing everything she thought she was, to finding the person she was meant to be. —School Library Journal

Romance and quantum physics intertwine in this frothy introduction to multiverse SF. —Kirkus Reviews

This is a satisfying soaper that combines pleasing romance with an enticing touch of the otherworldly. —Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

Greatest thing you learned in school?
I think there are many moments during a person’s school experience that are important and memorable, but I can give you one moment for me that stood out. I had a fantastic Anatomy & Physiology teacher waaaay back when I was in high school. Her class was really challenging but also probably the most interesting one I’d ever attended up to that point. Anyhow, she took us on lots of field trips and one was to a research hospital to view open heart surgery. It stuck in my mind all of these years, and that memory ended up being one of the things that helped inspire my book. You never know when something you learn is going to have an impact on your life – it could be in the moment, or even many years later.

Tell us your latest news.
I now have a date for EVERYTHING I THOUGHT I KNEW’s UK release with Walker Books – it’s June 3, 2021 and there will also be different cover for the UK edition!

I’m also participating in NaNoWriMo 2020 right now and hope to make headway on some new projects.

Who or what has influenced your writing, and in what way?
All the great books I’ve read have for sure influenced me, and of course some of my past teachers. I’ve worked as a business writer in marketing and PR for a long time, and I think that’s really trained me to write clearly and economically, and to have a pretty thick skin when it comes to feedback. My first job when I moved to San Francisco years ago was at a small PR agency and my boss was a former journalist. He was always a tough (but excellent) editor. Polished writing is really the result of a lot of editing and revising so that was such a great lesson for me.

Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published.
Hands down, it has been hearing from readers. Every time someone tells me how much they enjoyed the book or what they liked most about it or what it meant to them, it’s just the best feeling.

What do you hope for readers to be thinking when they read your novel?
First of all, I hope they just enjoy it as a story. And I’m sure different readers will take away different things. When writing it, I was definitely thinking a lot about how our lives are shaped both by our decisions and also by things that we can’t control. (2020 is certainly evidence of that, isn’t it?) So, I wanted to look at how we reconcile and live with the tension between choice and chance. This is something Chloe grapples with in the book, and I hope her story makes readers feel more at peace with the fact that life is often unpredictable. There’s no way to plan for every possible contingency, and you don’t have to have everything figured out all the time, especially at age 17. We are always learning and hopefully evolving and being shaped by our experiences throughout our lives. Our identities are not static. I was also thinking about the fragility and beauty of life and what that means in terms of how we live. Having goals is fine of course, but I feel like a lot of us can get so wrapped up in what we want to achieve at some future date that we sometimes forget to appreciate the present moment. And finally, I was interested in exploring ideas around the interconnectedness and mysterious nature of the universe. Chloe really wants to try and understand the “why” behind everything, but I think there’s also something freeing in acknowledging that not everything about our existence can be fully explained.

In your new book; EVERYTHING I THOUGHT I KNEW, can you tell my Book Nerd community a little about it.
Sure. EVERYTHING I THOUGHT I KNEW tells the story of a 17-year-old girl named Chloe whose life is turned upside down by a heart transplant, and it causes her to question everything about who she is and who she wants to be. When we first meet Chloe, she’s in the fall of her senior year, and singularly focused on what comes next: applying to college and all that that entails – AP classes, keeping her grade point average up, participating in all the extra-curriculars that might help make her applications stand out. But then she collapses during cross country practice, and when we fast forward to six months after her heart transplant, everything is different. Chloe’s doing okay physically, but at the same time she’s finding it difficult to settle back into her usual routines and relationships. Instead, she’d rather party with her new friend Jane and do all the things she didn’t get to do when she was busy being the straight-A “good girl.” At the same time, she’s also experiencing recurring nightmares and strange gaps in her memory, where she keeps getting flashes of places, events and even people she’s sure she must know but that she can’t quite remember. It’s unsettling, but she doesn’t tell her doctors or parents because she doesn’t want to deal with any more medical issues – especially when all she really wants to do is try to forget about the transplant and focus instead on her newfound obsession: surfing (which also happens to include a very cute instructor named Kai.)

What was the single worst distraction that kept you from writing this book?

Social media! (And periodic bouts of self doubt.)

What part of Chloe did you enjoy writing the most?
I love Chloe’s curious and slightly nerdy side. Like Chloe, I’m a person who is fascinated by weird scientific theories, so I really enjoyed the parts of the story where she gets to dive deep into “research” mode.

If you could introduce Kai to any character from another book, who would it be and why?
Wow this one stumped me a bit. I have a couple of ideas of characters that Kai would certainly have a lot to talk about with, especially by the end of the story, but I feel like it would be too spoiler-y to say who.

What was the most surprising thing you learned in creating your characters?
They sometimes did things I wasn’t expecting! (Just like real people, I guess.) I don’t plan out my entire plot, so one of the of the most enjoyable things about writing fiction (at least for me) is when you get in this mode where the story seems to take on a life of its own and your characters do things that surprise you.

  • 1. THE EDGE OF ANYTHING by Nora Shalaway Carpenter
  • 2. THREE THINGS I KNOW ARE TRUE by Betty Culley
  • 4. THIS IS MY AMERICA by Kim Johnson
  • 5. THE LUCKY ONES by Liz Lawson
  • 6. THE TRUTH PROJECT by Dante Medema
  • 7. THOSE WHO PREY by Jennifer Moffett
  • 9. ACCIDENTAL by Alex Richards
  • 10. PRIVATE LESSONS Cynthia Salaysay
What’s the most ridiculous fact you know?
I’m fascinated by all the random things that we store in our brains. For me it’s song lyrics, especially from when I was really young. As a Gen-Xer, I have an almost photographic memory of the lyrics of cheesy 80s power ballads.

Best date you've ever had?

The one where my date cooked me a fantastic dinner. (Reader, I married him. And he still cooks fantastic dinners.)

If you had to go back in time and change one thing, if you HAD to, even if you had “no regrets” what would it be?
Oh wow, this is a tough question too. Who has no regrets? I might have tried writing a book sooner than I actually did. I’m glad I finally stuck with it!

Choose a unique item from your wallet and explain why you carry it around.
I have a PASMO card from the Tokyo metro that I keep in my wallet, even though I can’t use it at the moment. I traveled to Japan a few years ago with my husband and kids and it was such a fantastic trip for so many reasons that I couldn’t throw it away – it’s a reminder of that moment in time and also a reminder that we need to go back!

Which incident in your life that totally changed the way you think today?
Having kids has probably changed how I think about some things… though I wouldn’t say one incident in and of itself has changed the way I think. My mindset is more a culmination of all my experiences.

What is the weirdest thing you have seen in someone else’s home?
I’m going to cheat a bit on this… it wasn’t at someone’s home, but I once stayed at a hotel/B&B that kept ocelots on the property – they are semi-big cats that look like leopards – and that was pretty weird and unexpected. (At least it was unexpected for me – this was before Tiger King.)

What was the best memory you ever had as a writer?
The day I found out that my book had been officially acquired was pretty cool. And for sure holding the finished copy of EVERYTHING I THOUGHT I KNEW in my hands.

A teenage girl wonders if she’s inherited more than just a heart from her donor in this compulsively readable debut.

Seventeen-year-old Chloe had a plan: work hard, get good grades, and attend a top-tier college. But after she collapses during cross-country practice and is told that she needs a new heart, all her careful preparations are laid to waste.

Eight months after her transplant, everything is different. Stuck in summer school with the underachievers, all she wants to do now is grab her surfboard and hit the waves—which is strange, because she wasn’t interested in surfing before her transplant. (It doesn’t hurt that her instructor, Kai, is seriously good-looking.)

And that’s not all that’s strange. There’s also the vivid recurring nightmare about crashing a motorcycle in a tunnel and memories of people and places she doesn’t recognize.

Is there something wrong with her head now, too, or is there another explanation for what she’s experiencing?

As she searches for answers, and as her attraction to Kai intensifies, what she learns will lead her to question everything she thought she knew—about life, death, love, identity, and the true nature of reality.

You can purchase Everything I Thought I Knew at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you SHANNON TAKAOKA for making this giveaway possible.
10 Winners will receive a Copy of EVERYTHING I THOUGHT I KNEW by Shannon Takaoka
1 Winner will receive EVERYTHING I THOUGHT I KNEW Storytellers BOX 
NOVEMBER 10th TUESDAY Twirling Book Princess EXCERPT
NOVEMBER 11th WEDNESDAY Two Points n Interest REVIEW
NOVEMBER 12th THURSDAY Movies, Shows, & Books GUEST POST 
NOVEMBER 12th THURSDAY We Live and Breathe Books REVIEW
NOVEMBER 13th FRIDAY Nay's Pink Bookshelf REVIEW
NOVEMBER 13th FRIDAY Kalisbookishrambles REVIEW 

NOVEMBER 17th TUESDAY A Court of Coffee and Books REVIEW 
NOVEMBER 18th WEDNESDAY Welcome to MLM Opinion's Reviews REVIEW
NOVEMBER 20th FRIDAY My Fictional Oasis REVIEW 
NOVEMBER 20th FRIDAY Reading Adventures of a Book Dragon REVIEW


Post a Comment