Monday, May 3, 2021

Joan He Interview - The Ones We're Meant to Find

Photo Content from Joan He

Joan He was born and raised in Philadelphia but still will, on occasion, lose her way. At a young age, she received classical instruction in oil painting before discovering that storytelling was her favorite form of expression. She studied Psychology and East Asian Languages and Cultures at the University of Pennsylvania and currently writes from a desk overlooking the Delaware River. Descendant of the Crane is her debut young adult fantasy. Her next novel, The Ones We're Meant to Find, will be forthcoming from Macmillan on May 4th, 2021.


Greatest thing you learned at school?
It’s so hard to pick one, but I will say that I’m grateful for all the science classes I was required to take as part of my high school’s curriculum. The concepts I learned in Chemistry, Biology, and Physics pushed me out of my comfort zone and have proved to be great fodder for my stories.

Where were you born and where do you call home?
I was born in Philadelphia and grew up in the suburbs, before going to college in the city. So I would definitely consider the city and its vicinity home.

Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published.
Seeing readers connect to characters and ideas that have come from my (at times very strange!) brain.

Tell us your latest news.
I just turned in my third book!

Can you tell us when you started THE ONES WE'RE MEANT TO FIND, how that came about?
The initial idea came to me in a dream: I had a very vivid image of a girl diving to the bottom of a sea, in search of something or someone. As I tried to figure out the “what”, my mind went back to the books I was reading as a teen. Some of my favorites at the time were YA Dystopias such as The Hunger Games and Legend. They left a deep impression on me, particularly in how they signaled the relatability of their main characters. A single scene with a younger sibling, for example, could frame a protagonist as human and vulnerable before they went on to topple dictatorships or save the world. I wanted to subvert that. What if, I wondered, the girl in my dream is searching for her younger sister, but that sister is more than a storytelling device? And so came the heart of the story.

What was the most surprising thing you learned in creating Cee?
I was surprised to find a loneliness within her—not just when she was alone on the island, but even in her memories where she’s surrounded by her friends. But on the whole, Cee was actually not that surprising of a character to create because I based her off of a composite of YA main character traits that I found were well-received by readers. When you get to the twist, you’ll understand why I did this.

What do you hope for readers to be thinking when they read your novel?
As I mentioned, I designed Cee in such a way that she checks more of the boxes of what YA deems as a worthy, fleshed out main character. Kasey is the polar opposite of Cee for a reason. Together, they are a microcosm of the question that climate change, and other global problems, pose on us: Does someone deserve more of our attention and care just because we relate to them more? All too often, it’s the people we do not see ourselves in—the people we sometimes do not see at all—who are most impacted by our actions, or lack thereof.

If you could introduce one of your characters to any character from another book, who would it be and why?
I’d love to introduce Kasey to Vanessa from MY DARK VANESSA. Both of them are aware that they’re missing something, this intangible something that makes the people around them react differently—perhaps more strongly—to the same situations. They both think that they’re broken. And yet despite their insecurities, they remain unapologetically themselves.

What was the single worst distraction that kept you from writing this book?
Perfectionism. The first draft poured out of me relatively quickly but I delayed in sending it to my agent because I felt like it wasn’t as good as I wanted it to be.

What is something you think everyone should do at least once in their lives?
Take a risk for your dreams.

If you could go back in time to one point in your life, where would you go?
I don’t think I’d go back in time, truthfully. Past-me was either way too stressed out or way too awkward—and I’m sure I’d say that of current-me in a couple years too.

Which incident in your life that totally changed the way you think today?
For the longest time I thought I was going to be a professional artist. By the time I was thirteen, I’d be training for that career path for six years. My parents, teachers, and peers all thought I was gifted, and I couldn’t imagine doing anything else. But slowly I came to realize that I only liked art and did art because I was good at it, because I craved the praise and validation, and because I liked being seen as the artist. When no one else was in the room and no one was looking, I was secretly reading, not painting. And since any profession in the arts and entertainment is extremely difficult and subjective, you really need to be intrinsically motivated to have any sort of staying power. I was not cut out for it. I realized that, but I stuck with art for a few more years because the fear of letting down my parents was so huge. When I finally broke the news to them, it was as every bit as big and scary as I imagined, and my parents were saddened because they felt blindsided. But through that experience, I realized that it’s better to disappoint other people than to disappoint yourself. And it’s incredibly easy to be doing things for the wrong reasons or to get swept up in your own inertia.

What are 4 things you never leave home without?
My phone, laptop, glasses, and a good pair of running shoes. The last two things are because I wonder all the time about how I’d die if the zombie apocalypse happened, and I’m certain cause of death would either be because 1. I couldn’t run fast enough or 2. I broke my glasses (I can’t see more than a couple inches in front of myself without them).

Where did you go on your first airplane ride?
China, but I don’t remember it. This was before I was 1.

First Heartbreak?
I never confessed to any of my crushes throughout grade school, so I don’t know if you could call any of them heartbreaks. Just long periods of angsty pining.

Which would you choose, true love with a guarantee of a heart break or have never loved before?
True love and heartbreak.

Favorite quotes
“Celia had loved the sea. Loved the whitecaps that foamed like milk, the waltz of sunlight atop the peaks. Kasey did not. The sea was a trillion strands of hair, infinitely tangled on the surface and infinitely dense beneath. It distorted time: Minutes passed like hours and hours passed like minutes out there. It distorted space, made the horizon seem within reach.

And it was the perfect place for hiding secrets.”

“The problem with oceans? They always seem smaller from the shore.”

“Even in a sea, every life rippled far beyond its end.”

“Everyone lived at the expense of someone else.”

“When I dream of her, it’s in vibrant color, unlike the gradients of gray of my monochrome days. But everything is hazy when I wake. The details merge. The colors fade.”

“Others might believe there’s power in a single step,” murmured Actinium, the cadence of his breath brushing Kasey’s ear. Her eyes widened. His warmth was real. So was the brace of his arm. The press of his chest. “But most choices are made before you reach the edge.”

“The dominos had been set centuries ago. One quake, and they all fell.”

“Logic ended where love began.”

One of the most twisty, surprising, engaging page-turner YAs you’ll read this year—We Were Liars meets Black Mirror, with a dash of Studio Ghibli.

Cee has been trapped on an abandoned island for three years without any recollection of how she arrived, or memories from her life prior. All she knows is that somewhere out there, beyond the horizon, she has a sister named Kay. Determined to find her, Cee devotes her days to building a boat from junk parts scavenged inland, doing everything in her power to survive until the day she gets off the island and reunites with her sister.

In a world apart, 16-year-old STEM prodigy Kasey Mizuhara is also living a life of isolation. The eco-city she calls home is one of eight levitating around the world, built for people who protected the planet―and now need protecting from it. With natural disasters on the rise due to climate change, eco-cities provide clean air, water, and shelter. Their residents, in exchange, must spend at least a third of their time in stasis pods, conducting business virtually whenever possible to reduce their environmental footprint. While Kasey, an introvert and loner, doesn’t mind the lifestyle, her sister Celia hated it. Popular and lovable, Celia much preferred the outside world. But no one could have predicted that Celia would take a boat out to sea, never to return.

Now it’s been three months since Celia’s disappearance, and Kasey has given up hope. Logic says that her sister must be dead. But as the public decries her stance, she starts to second guess herself and decides to retrace Celia’s last steps. Where they’ll lead her, she does not know. Her sister was full of secrets. But Kasey has a secret of her own.

You can purchase The Ones We're Meant to Find at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you JOAN HE for making this giveaway possible.
1 Winner will receive a Copy of The Ones We're Meant to Find by Joan He.


  1. "What was the last thing you said to someone?" Ohh, Kiii-ttt-yyy!"

  2. I just scheduled your dentist appointment for July.

  3. I said "Have a good day" when I left my boyfriend's this morning. I'm excited to read Joan's book.

  4. I said I am not very good at catching the chickens.

  5. "Have fun", as my hubby headed out the door to get his vaccine shot.

  6. The last thing I said is, "I hope the Capitals have a good game."