This week, we’re super-excited to feature debut author Lydia Kang, whose sci-fi thriller YA novel, Control, hits shelves today. The book centers on explores family drama, alien abductions, and, of course, a good dose of romance. It’s definitely a book worth adding to your TBR pile!
We caught up with Lydia to chat about the differences between writing fiction and non-fiction, and the beauty of science colliding with literature.
Tell us a bit about yourself and how you became a writer?
I’m a part time internist living in the midwest with my hubs and three kids. We have a lot of fish and pet stick bugs at our house! I started writing medical non-fiction in 2006. Little bits here and there, and I mostly published my stories about patient care in medical journals. In 2008, I joined a writer’s group that mashed up health care professionals with poets and writers. After that, the poetry started flowing and before long, I scratched the itch to write a book. I’ve always adored YA books, so it felt natural to try. Now, I’m still doing my doctor stuff a few days a week, and the rest of the time, I’m writing. I’ve always wanted to be a writer, but I didn’t know I could do it until I tried.
Can you give us a quick synopsis of Control? How did you come up with the concept for the book?
Control is about a 17 year-old girl, who loses her only parent in an accident. Her sister soon gets abducted while they’re in a foster agency, and my MC must align herself with illegal, underground genetically altered kids to help get her sister back. I always wanted to write a protagonist who wasn’t classically beautiful; who used her intelligence (she’s a bit of a research/lab rat prodigy) to get her out of scrapes. I’m a stickler for making the science work, so one thing that I think sets Control apart is that there is no pseudo-science when it comes to the traits of these kids. They had to make sense, anatomically, physiologically, and genetically. And I had to have romance! The book has so much in it, it’s hard to distill into one genre. It’s adventure, a medical thriller, a romance, and sci-fi all at the same time. And there’s poetry! It was a dream to write.
Control promises to be an action-packed page turner. Did you think much about pacing it as you wrote? Action scenes are generally thought to be one of the most challenging kind to write. How did you feel writing the action?
I concentrated very hard on pacing, and made sure there wasn’t action only the sake of action. I used to be horrible at action! But I learned, and got better. There are several action scenes in Control and I really enjoyed writing them!
What’s your writing process? What does a typical writing day look like?
I need to outline my stories before I write them. Individual scenes are written more spontaneously though. I’m sort of an omni-environmental writer. Sometimes it’s at a desk, sometimes on the floor, and often in a coffee shop. I need to listen to my Youtube playlist. My inspiration comes from just thinking about everyday things and using my imagination to ask the great “What if?”
What has your path to publication been like? What’s been the most surprising part of the writing/publishing process for you?
The most surprising thing is that I actually did it! After I’d educated myself about the publishing process, I knew the odds were against me. I had to write a book that was well structured, well paced, with unforgettable characters and scenes and stakes that were worth turning the page for. I worked my tail off teaching myself and learning from other writers. Basically, I wrote every spare moment I had for two straight years until I found an agent and got a deal. Control is the third book I’ve written.
What’s the best writing advice you’ve ever gotten? What advice would you yourself give aspiring authors?
“Show, don’t tell.” Man, that was hard to learn, but once you experience the nirvana, you never forget. Also, read voraciously and study what it is about your favorite writers that works. And write a lot. Keep the bar very, very high for the quality of your work. Always aim for “is this good enough to be next to (insert favorite, contemporary authors here).”
What was your favorite book when you were a kid/teenager? What are you reading now?
As a kid, I read the Little House book like a million times. I still read them! Laura was so smart and plucky. I’m also a huge Bronte and Austen fan. I’ve read those a billion times too and reread those all the time. I also loved L’Engle, Tolkien, Lloyd Alexander…there are too many! Right now I’m reading more non-fiction. I just finished The Poisoner’s Handbook and am reading The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. So amazing.
What’s next for you writing-wise (and otherwise!)?
I’d love to do a sequel or companion book for Control. I also have an idea for an historical fiction set in the 1917.
Do you believe in being part of a “bloc” of writers? Are critique groups and writing communities helpful to you?
Absolutely! A writing group got me started, and I found a group of critique partners I cannot live without!
Thanks for stopping by TWB, Lydia!
Thank you so much for having me at your blog! You guys are awesome.