I am thrilled to interview the funny and fabulous Cherry Cheva, author of the great and very hip fusion story She's So Money. :D
You are a writer for the Fox animated TV series Family Guy. What made you decide to write young adult fiction? Can you tell us about your road to publication as a writer for teens?
I actually sort of fell into it—I mean, when I was a kid I always thought it would be cool to write a book, but then I was focused on getting into TV writing for so long that I didn't really think about it seriously until my agent had another client who was doing a book-related project. He asked if I wanted to give it a try, and I was like hell yes! But if you count the road to getting my job on Family Guy, which no doubt helped me land the book deal in the first place, the story is much longer, involving moving to LA and getting a series of assistant jobs while writing spec scripts and trying to find an agent—all the usual stuff people do when they're trying to break into the industry.
What books and/or authors have influenced you as a writer for teens?
Hmmm, my answer to this kind of sucks because I actually hadn't read that much YA fiction before I started writing it (tons when I was a kid, of course, but not much current stuff, sad to say). So I'm not really sure about influencing, but back in the day I loved Judy Blume and Beverly Cleary; very recently, the Firebirds and Firebirds Rising short story anthologies; and of course Harry Potter like everyone else on the planet.
What part of writing do you enjoy the most?
Being done! Writing is such a pain in the neck! :) Okay, I guess I like rewriting better than first drafting because it just seems easier to type over stuff that's already there, rather than a blank page. And of course, for my day job, it's always great when you pitch a joke and everyone laughs. I also enjoy the mass quantities of free candy.
What was it like writing She's So Money?
Super fun-- a totally interesting switchup from TV writing. I had to learn to take my time, because there's so much room for detail in a book, whereas in TV you're trying to get into and out of scenes as quickly as possible. One occasionally frustrating (although understandable) thing was that I tend to have an R-rated sensibility and in YA novels, just like on network TV, you can't always have the raciest version of what you want in there. There were some jokes and lines in the book that had to be toned down, and I mourn those, but the dirtier versions live on in my head. :)
Do you celebrate Asian Pacific Heritage Month? How will you celebrate it this year?
I'm celebrating by talking and blogging about Fusion Stories as much as possible. :) Ta da, I just did it! Here's the link: fusionstories.com
What are the challenges and rewards of being an Asian American writer?
I guess they're the same as those of any writer, and then there's also the—worry? or at least awareness?—that if you have an Asian American protagonist in your book that it could potentially limit your audience. I don't even know if that's true, in fact it might totally not be, but I think it's something you end up thinking about at least a little, even if your story is pretty universal. On the plus side, if you end up introducing a bit of Asian culture to readers who may not have been exposed to it otherwise, awesome.
Why was the Fusion Stories group created? What are the purposes and goals of the Fusion Stories group?
Honestly, the Fusion website says it all much better than I would. :) Check it out at fusionstories.com!
What is the coolest thing about being a Fusion author?
It has been totally awesome meeting all the other Fusion authors-- Justina Chen Headley, Grace Lin, An Na, Mitali Perkins, Janet Wong, Joyce Lee Wong, Lisa Yee, David Yoo, and Paula Yoo-- either in person or online. They're all super experienced and established and cool, and I've learned a lot in a few months.
And I'm dying to know... Why didn't you practice law after earning a J.D. from NYU Law Scool?
Because I was terrible at it. :) I never wanted to be a lawyer, I basically just went to law school because I couldn't figure out what else to do at the time (and of course my parents were pushing for it). Like, I didn't know anybody in LA and was too scared at age 21 to move out there and try to figure out how to break into TV writing, so law school was basically three years of me stalling (and accumulating debt…yuck). Right after I graduated I moved to LA though, and by the time my law school friends were all killing themselves studying for the bar, I was killing myself working as an agent's assistant. It was a really hard job and paid terribly, but I would've taken it over being a lawyer any day.
Thanks so much, Cherry!
For more information about Cherry, check out her MySpace profile.