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Justina Chen Headley Intervewed By Book Chic

1) In Nothing But The Truth, Patty is teased for being a hapa (half Asian, half white). Did you have a similar experience when you were younger? If not, how did you get the idea?
Let's just say that hell hath no fury like a writer-mom whose kids are scorned. So while I've experience my share of teasing--and words--for being Asian, particularly while I lived in Australia, it was watching my hapa kids getting mocked that inspired Nothing but the Truth (and a few white lies). After some teens surrounded us and began hung-twung-wunging us with pseudo-Chinese, Patty in my book started narrating her story to me.

2) Patty's mother uses speeches that have been repeated over and over, and that Patty knows by heart. Did you base this on your own mother?
I just have to say: the mom in the book is nothing like my mom! HOWEVER, to my horror, I realize that I am starting my own lecture series with my kids. It's terrible, but there are my lectures, coming out of my lips: your room is a pigsty! Headleys always try their best! Is this really your best? You get the gist...

3) You started the group ReaderGirlz with a couple of other YA authors. How did you all come up with this idea? What is ReaderGirlz all about?
Readergirlz is an online book community all about celebrating wonderful YA novels. I started the group with YA authors Dia Calhoun, Janet Lee Carey, and Lorie Ann Grover. While I was touring for Nothing but the Truth (and a few white lies), I made a special effort to visit inner city schools and libraries...and it was so heartening to meet the students there. And so unfair that most of them hadn't ever met an author before. I just knew there was a way to deliver an online author experience to kids everywhere. So readergirlz was born.

4) Tell us all about Girl Overboard. What is it about? How did the idea come to you?
Girl Overboard was really a result of many collisions: my own wipe-out on a mountain and my worry about our culture's obsession with wealth and materialism. My accident came at a time when I was hunting for a new novel to work on...and then as I was being toboganned downhill by ski patrol, Syrah from Girl Overboard was born. So as you've probably figure out, Syrah is a snowboard girl who also happens to be a trustfund baby. The only place where she feels real is on the mountain...but then she has this devastating accident.

5) What is the best part of being a writer? The worst?
I love almost all parts of writing: the ideation stage, the discovery draft, rewriting, even copy editing. I especially love researching and interviewing.

6) Even though Girl Overboard just came out, are you working on anything right now?
Always! I just finished copy editing my next novel, NORTH OF BEAUTIFUL, that is coming out in late 2008 or early 2009. And now I have 5 ideas I'm toying with...not sure what I'll pick up next. But I do know it'll be a departure.

7) With "Nothing But The Truth", your debut book, you did a scholarship competition. And it seems like you're doing a similar competition with Girl Overboard as well. Can you tell us more about this competition?
I committed to tying in community service to every single book I publish. So with Girl Overboard, I'm partnering with Burton Snowboards and Youth Venture on the Go Overboard Challenge Grant to fund the best youth-led ideas to change the world. Can you say 12 grants of $1000 each? For more info, you can check out

I'm just so thrilled to be touring the country with Olympic Gold Medalist, Hannah Teter, to talk to students about this grant and about how important it is for everyone to rock the world with their passion and ideas and community service.

You can follow the tour on

8) Manga is a big part of Syrah's life, showing her manga-journaling as well as narrating to the reader about various aspects of manga. Are you into manga as much as Syrah is? If yes, what are your favorite series? If no, did you have to do much research to accurately depict it?
I love manga and anime, but I wouldn't say that I'm a huge expert or anything of it. I studied a bunch of manga art books and read about the history of that story form. And I would love to write a manga series of my own one day.

9) In the Acknowledgments section, you write about having a blast at the Microsoft building while researching cell phones and other technological advances to accurately portray Syrah's father's company and project. How did that trip come about, and what sort of stuff did you end up doing?
The truth is, I used to work at Microsoft and had a tremendous time at the company. It was exciting building a business there with intensely smart and passionate people. A lot of what I learned about business made it into Girl Overboard...and all those people in my acknowledgements were my mentors. As you can see, I had a ton of them...and hope to provide that same kind of support to girls (and guys) through readergirlz!

About Book Chic

Book Chic is run mainly by a college male, along with two friends of his. The three of us love Young Adult and chicklit books, and want to spread the good word of these particular books through our site. We post interviews with authors, book reviews, guest blogs from various authors, and more. We reside around the Washington, DC area.


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