The November Girl
By: Lydia Kang
Publication Date: November 7th, 2017
I am Anda, and the lake is my mother. I am the November storms that terrify sailors and sink ships. With their deaths, I keep my little island on Lake Superior alive.
Hector has come here to hide from his family until he turns eighteen. Isle Royale is shut down for the winter, and there’s no one here but me. And now him.
Hector is running from the violence in his life, but violence runs through my veins. I should send him away, to keep him safe. But I’m half human, too, and Hector makes me want to listen to my foolish, half-human heart. And if I do, I can’t protect him from the storms coming for us.
1) What is on your desk or where you write? What do you need to write? Do you have a writer’s survival kit?
I have all sorts of tchotchkes on my desk. Paper weights, little marbles, tea or coffee, and a gold quail tape dispenser. I like pretty things.
2) What is your writing process? Are you a plotter or a panster? Which do you prefer: drafting or revising?
I am a plotter, for sure! And I also love, love, love drafting and I hate revising!
3) As a practicing professional (Rosi and I are both in grad school. Rosi for library science, pharmacy school for me), how do you balance your professional life with your other profession of writing? Do you have any writing tips for a busy professional and in general?
I find that they balance each other really well. Each type of work has its set of annoyances and they are totally relieved by switching gears. I’ve really embraced that duality and complementary relief that they give me. Also, I didn’t completely separate them. My love of medicine and science seeps into my writing, and my love of literature helps me be a better doctor. When I was fighting to keep them separate, I was more unhappy.
4) Describe you book in 5 words or less:
Shipwrecks, heartbreaks, and storms—ready?
5) A book goes through a lot of different versions and rounds of editing before it’s complete. What are some “fun facts” or behind the scenes info you can share about the characters from your book or the world you created for it that may or may not have made it to the final draft of the book?
I totally changed the ending. It would have been a very different book, a few years ago!
I visited Isle Royale only after I wrote the book, so everything I learned about it, I learned on Google.
And finally, I’ve been obsessed with Lake Superior since I was a kid, so I knew I had to write this book!
6) Your previous works have been in the realm of science fiction and science history. Particularly, they revolve around the medical field: your new book, QUACKERY, explores weird cures and medical practices throughout history and your previous YA series involved mutated genetics. What made you want to venture into magical realism, and away from science fiction for THE NOVEMBER GIRL? Did any of your interest in science and background in it make it into the book anyway? Did you miss pulling on that knowledge or was it a good break from what you were used to writing?
It was a lovely break. Much of why I wrote this came from the same reason why I write anything—I was in love with the subject matter and the story. It just so happens that I adore science/pharmacology/chemistry, so it makes its way into my books often, but I have many loves. 🙂 There is a scene in the book where medicines are involved, and being a doctor, it was handy that I knew exactly which ones to use!
7) Do you have a special story, a discovery you made while doing research, or an innocuous thought that grew into something bigger that is behind your inspiration for the series?
This story came mostly from two sources of inspiration. A childhood book I read, Rascal, was about a kid in Wisconsin and his racoon, but they go to Lake Superior and I almost memorized all those scenes, I was so entranced.
And also, the song The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald, which I’d heard since I was a kid and found incredibly haunting. It talks of the Witch of November, who I personified as Anda in my story.
8) Who was your favorite character to write and who gave you the most trouble?
Anda was easiest. For some reason, I have no problem trying to pretend I’m only half human. 🙂 Hector was harder. Since he is biracial Black and Korean, the Korean part I had down, but I needed sensitivity readers to make sure his character was done well.
9) If you could ask a character of your choice from THE NOVEMBER GIRL one question what would it be?
I’d ask Hector how things are with his parents these days. I want so much for him to be happy.
10) What scene from the book are you most proud of (because of how you handled the atmosphere, characters, dialogue, etc)?
The first time they meet. I had a blast writing it, and I think I did a good job!
11) Is there a scene that you had difficulty with and just had to “power through” to finish the book? Or a scene that made you very emotional?
Yes, the climax of the book when there is a lot of stuff happening on the lake. I’m not so good with action scenes. They are difficult for me!
12) What is next for you? What are your currently working on?
I’m working on edits for TOXIC, my next Entangled Teen book about a Korean girl in space who’s been left behind on a dying ship. Can’t wait to share it with the world next year!
Lydia Kang is an author of young adult fiction, poetry, and narrative non-fiction. She graduated from Columbia University and New York University School of Medicine, completing her residency and chief residency at Bellevue Hospital in New York City. She is a practicing physician who has gained a reputation for helping fellow writers achieve medical accuracy in fiction. Her poetry and non-fiction have been published in JAMA, The Annals of Internal Medicine, Canadian Medical Association Journal, Journal of General Internal Medicine, and Great Weather for Media. She believes in science and knocking on wood, and currently lives in Omaha with her husband and three children.
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