This September, New York Times bestselling author Mary H.K. Choi releases her second novel, Permanent Record, to the delight of readers everywhere – no matter your age, you’ll love this timely YA read. As our September Guest Editor, we are so excited to learn more about Mary’s books, discover her favorite reads and find out about the inspiration behind her popular books. Stay tuned all month for more exclusives and keep scrolling to get to know Mary H.K. Choi.
Order your copy of Permanent Record by Mary H.K. Choi!
What was the inspiration behind Permanent Record?
Permanent Record was partly informed by my career as an entertainment journalist and Hollywood reporter for over 10 years. I was always interested in class demarcations that govern the celebrity industrial complex. That sort of upstairs-downstairs, Downton Abbey thing. But I’m also super interested in the phenomenon of internet celebrity and clout. In some ways it makes fame appear more accessible because the voyeurism and transparency give you the illusion that it could happen to you. That tension and drama was something I wanted to explore especially in the context of love and attraction. So, yeah, Permanent Record was inspired by that but also hugely influenced by the way New Yorkers snap on each other (bodega hive forever).
Which authors do you admire most?
I don’t know that I admire any authors who aren’t friends of mine. I know that sounds some type of way but I’ve spent a lot of time admiring people who end up being wildly disappointing. But coming into the YA world and the book-writing sphere, in general, has been such an incredibly warm and edifying experience. I have met some true, decent authors who have been staggeringly generous when it comes to dispensing (verrry solicited) wisdom. So in no particular order, I admire and love Jenny Han, Sam Irby, Laini Taylor, Emily X.R. Pan, Jami Attenberg, D.J. Older, Sabaa Tahir, Alexander Chee, Maeve Higgins, Rainbow Rowell, Bobby Hundreds and a bunch of other wonderful people I am probably forgetting. Yeah, I don’t know that I can look up to anyone without any inkling as to how they treat people in life.
What kind of positive message are you hoping to share with teens who read your novels?
I don’t know that this is a positive message necessarily because there’s no value judgment in it but I want to encourage people to explore the truth because the truth is subjective. You are entitled to what rings true for you. And having the courage to be the steward of your own truth is challenging but worth it. There’s so much suffering in ignoring your intuition. It’s taken me a long time to come to terms with that and how the truth doesn’t go away. And as uncomfortable as it is to sit with it and then make space for it, once you learn how to lean into discomfort, discover your boundaries and use your words to signal it to other people you’ll be free. There’s magic in that. And once you’re free, your art will be honest and spectacular and the people who vibrate on the frequency that feels good to you will find you irresistible and love you in the way that feels best.
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