Author Chat with Lisa Yee (Katana at Super Hero High)

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Today we're excited to chat with Lisa Yee, author of Katana at Super Hero High. Read on for more about Lisa and her book, plus an interview!

 

Meet Lisa Yee!

 
Lisa Yee’s debut novel, Millicent Min, Girl Genius, won the prestigious Sid Fleischman Humor Award. Her other novels for young people, with nearly two million copies in print, include Stanford Wong Flunks Big-Time, So Totally Emily Ebers, Absolutely Maybe, and two books about a fourth grader, Bobby vs. Girls (Accidentally) and Bobby the Brave (Sometimes). Lisa is also the author of American Girl’s Kanani books and Good Luck, Ivy. Her recent novel, Warp Speed, is about a Star Trek geek who gets beat up every day at school. Lisa is a former Thurber House Children’s Writer-in-Residence whose books have been chosen as an NPR Best Summer Read, a Sports Illustrated Kids Hot Summer Read, and a USA Today Critics’ Top Pick. Visit Lisa at lisayee.com or check out her blog at lisayee.livejournal.com.
 
 Meet Katana at Super Hero High!
 
In the fourth installment of DC Super Hero Girls, sword-wielding Katana isn’t like most high school students—but with classmates like Wonder Woman, Batgirl, and Supergirl, Super Hero High isn’t like most high schools! In addition to training to be a super hero, Katana also follows the noble warrior traditions of the Samurai. Now a mysterious presence has given her the responsibility of guarding a hundred ancient Samurai swords—but why her, and for what purpose? 
 

1. What gave you the inspiration to write this book?

We started with the big three: Wonder Woman, Supergirl and Batgirl. I was drawn to Katana and felt that it would be awesome to have an Asian super hero, someone I might have identified with when I was a kid. So I had a meeting with DC Entertainment and I was prepared to fight for her. I had all my talking points and whatnots, and I said, “I would love to feature Katana in her own book . . .” Before I could continue, they said, “Sure, that’s a great idea."

2.) Thinking way back to the beginning, what’s the most important thing you've learned as a writer from then to now?

Writing is not as mysterious as I was led to believe. Instead, it’s work. Hard work, punctuated with feelings of sheer joy when you nail that sentence, figure out that scene, or suddenly realize you know what you’re doing. But to get to that point, you have to write, write, write. 

3.) What do you like most about the cover of the book?

I love the book cover. I mean, just look at it! Katana is strong and unwavering, yet there is a hint of smile and mischievousness. Below, under her sword are her friends and fellow super heroes, Hawkgirl, Wonder Woman, Bumblebee, Big Barda, and Miss Martian, all telegraphing who they are and how they feel. There’s a continuity with all the DC Super Hero High books, yet each stands out by itself, and Katana gripping her sword is a prime example of that.  

4.) What’s up next for you?

Shhh . . . not sure if I’m allowed to share this with you, but I’m currently finishing up Harley Quinn At Super Hero High. Let me tell you, this girl is a blast to write. Teenaged Harley is as fun, irreverent and bold as you’d expect. But there are lots of surprises, too.

5.) Is there anything that you would like to add?

I traveled to Japan to research samurai. And I even took Ninja training so I could learn to use the weapons Katana does battle with. (I know!) It was such a great experience, and when I was writing scenes that took place in her home country, I was able to reflect on the time I spent in Japan. Plus, let’s face it, I had the best excuse ever to learn how to fight with swords, daggers, throwing stars, or to kill someone with a chopstick!

6.) Which was the most difficult or emotional scene to narrate?

There’s a scene in the book where the past suddenly becomes present. When I wrote the scene where Katana learns the fate of her missing Onna, her grandmother, I cried and cried. The unfolding of the story was hard, but necessary. It anchors the book. So many times we wish we could relive the past, or inform it with what we know now. Katana felt that way and was drawn to the past. Yet, she was forced to move forward, or risk death.

7.) Which character gave you the most trouble when writing your latest book?

Much of the book weighs on the relationship between Tatsu Yamashiro (Katana) and her grandmother, Onna-Bugeisha Yamashiro, the first female samurai super hero. I needed to write about Onna in a way that was real, and yet shrouded in mystery. Much of what Katana knows about her grandmother comes from stories others tell her, along with fragments of her own dreams and memories. It took me a long while to figure out how to bring Onna to life as Katana struggled to complete the picture of her long lost grandmother.

8.) Which part of the writing process do you enjoy more: Drafting or Revising?

I’m all about revising. My first drafts are pretty messy. When writing then, I just plow ahead, sometimes as if my eyes are closed. It’s only in revision that I can see what the book can truly become.

9.) What would you say is your superpower?

My superpower is the ability to be wrong on a consistent basis. Recently, my son asked, “What were those two things you were sure were going to fail?” 

I reminded him, “YouTube and a thing called Amazon that was going to sell books online.” 

"And what do you think will fail next?" he asked. “I may want to buy stock in that company."

 
 
Thanks so much for chatting with us, Lisa! 

 
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