Tuesday, August 1, 2023

Kara H.L. Chen Interview - Love & Resistance

Photo Content from Kara H.L. Chen

Kara H.L. Chen grew up near Cleveland, Ohio, where she once had to shovel snow off her car with a plastic trashcan. She now lives on the West Coast with her husband and daughters, and is learning how to use an Instapot. She has undergraduate degrees in English and economics, a J.D., and a MFA in fiction. She has used her economics degree exactly once, when she tried to make a joke about marginal costs and marginal returns. It did not go well.


Greatest thing you learned at school.
With regards to writing, how to accept feedback and to incorporate it without losing the heart of your story.

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

Why is storytelling so important for all of us?
Because it is one of the greatest tools that we have for developing empathy.

Can you tell us when you started LOVE & RESISTANCE, how that came about?
In 2013, I had an idea about a secret society of nerds that covertly fight against bullies.

What were your feelings when your first novel was accepted/when you first saw the cover of the finished product?
When I first got the email that my editor was taking the manuscript to acquisitions, I was on the way out the door to drive my kids to camp. So I dropped them off and then cried happy tears on the way home. It had taken me eight years at that point to write the book and I had no idea if any editor would be interested in it or not.

What was the most surprising thing you learned in creating your characters?
That Peter was the moral center of the book.

  • 1. The title used to be THE NERD’S GUIDE TO STARTING A REVOLUTION.
  • 2. I first had the idea for it in 2013.
  • 3. It is the first manuscript that I have completed, but I have many half-finished ones, including an attempt at a fantasy series and a literary fiction novel. I had wanted to be a writer since I was a little kid, and my mom always encouraged it by getting me journals and cute pens and taking me to the library almost every week. (I still love journals and cute pens!)
  • 4. Olivia Chang, the main character, is an expert in military strategy due to her immigrant grandfather’s love of history. This is partially based on my dad’s love of war movies and history and how he likes to tell those stories to my kids!
  • 5. This book is my love letter to my high school friends, who were my OG Nerd Net and who showed me and continue to show me in a thousand ways what true friendship is.
  • 6. The poetry part of the book came about because my debate coach in college encouraged me to also compete in poetry interpretation.
  • 7. Almost all the references to French fries used to be jokes about Tater Tots, but I learned in copyediting that Tater Tots are trademarked term, so they would be have to be capitalized. I thought that disrupted the flow of the sentences, so I decided to switch to French fries. Sad! I love a good tater tot joke.
  • 8. The earlier drafts of this book were a very underwhelming 37K. After some insightful comments from an earlier reader, I decided to develop the characters of Heidi, Will and Peter more. I’m so glad that I did!
  • 9. This book has gone through over twelve rounds of revisions but the beginning chapter has stayed essentially the same.
  • 10. There is French in this book because that’s the language that I studied in high school.
What is the first job you have had?
Landscaping/lawn maintenance

What was your favorite subject when you were in school and why?
I loved English! Anything to do with reading or books.

Name one thing you miss about being a kid.
Having time to read in the summer.

What is the first thing you think of when you wake up in the morning?
All the things I have to do today (see answer below, ha ha).

What do you usually think about right before falling asleep?
All the things I have to do tomorrow, lol.

When was the last time you told someone you loved them?
Just a little bit ago, as my kids went to sleep! J

Seventeen-year-old Olivia Chang is at her fourth school in seven years. Her self-imposed solitude is lonely, but safe. At Plainstown High, however, Olivia’s usual plan of anonymity fails when the infamous Mitzi Clarke (influencer, queen bee, bully) makes a pointed racist comment in class. Olivia knows what she must do: let it go. But Olivia is tired of ignoring things just so she can survive. This time, she defends herself.

That is the end of her invisible life.

Soon, Olivia discovers, and joins forces with, the Nerd Net: a secret society who has been thwarting Mitzi’s reign of terror for months. Together, they plan to unite the masses and create true change at Plainstown High.

But in order to succeed, Olivia must do something even more terrifying than lead a movement: trust other people. She might even make true friends along the way . . . if Mitzi doesn’t destroy her first.

You can purchase Love & Resistance at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you KARA H.L. CHEN for making this giveaway possible.
1 Winner will receive a Copy of Love & Resistance by Kara H.L. Chen.

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