Today we're excited to chat with Lyla Lee author of
I'll Be The One.
Read on for more about Lyla and her book, plus a giveaway!
Meet Lyla Lee!
Lyla Lee is the author of I’ll Be the One and the Mindy Kim series for younger readers. Born in a small town in South Korea, she’s since lived in various cities throughout the United States. Inspired by her English teacher, she started writing her own stories in fourth grade and finished her first novel at the age of fourteen. After studying Psychology and Cinematic Arts at the University of Southern California and working in Hollywood, Lyla now lives in Dallas, Texas. When she’s not writing, she is teaching kids and searching for the perfect bowl of shaved ice. You can visit her at www.lylaleebooks.com [lylaleebooks.com].
Meet I'll Be The One!
The world of K-Pop has never met a star like this. Debut author Lyla Lee delivers a deliciously fun, thoughtful rom-com celebrating confidence and body positivity—perfect for fans of Jenny Han and Julie Murphy.
Skye Shin has heard it all. Fat girls shouldn’t dance. Wear bright colors. Shouldn’t call attention to themselves. But Skye dreams of joining the glittering world of K-Pop, and to do that, she’s about to break all the rules that society, the media, and even her own mother, have set for girls like her.
She’ll challenge thousands of other performers in an internationally televised competition looking for the next K-pop star, and she’ll do it better than anyone else.
When Skye nails her audition, she’s immediately swept into a whirlwind of countless practices, shocking performances, and the drama that comes with reality TV. What she doesn’t count on are the highly fat-phobic beauty standards of the Korean pop entertainment industry, her sudden media fame and scrutiny, or the sparks that soon fly with her fellow competitor, Henry Cho.
But Skye has her sights on becoming the world’s first plus-sized K-pop star, and that means winning the competition—without losing herself.
~ Author Chat ~
- What gave you the inspiration to write this book?
I was inspired to write I’ll Be the One by my own experiences as well as the experiences of my family and friends. Although I myself don’t have any experiences in the K-pop industry (the closest I got to that life was middle school a cappella/pop choir), I have friends and family who were/are in the industry and won competitions similar to the one in my book.
On a personal level, I really wanted to write a book about a bisexual Korean American teen because it’s the type of representation I desperately needed as a teen (and later, adult) reader who often felt hurt by either the lack or misrepresentation of bisexual Asian characters in YA.
Finally, many Asian cultures’ standards of weight are very different from American ones. Even though I would have never been considered plus-sized in the US, I was routinely fat shamed while growing up. My friends, family, and I were also exposed to a really toxic culture in both Asia and America where diet teas, fad diets, and media portrayals of women made us feel bad about our bodies. So, I really wanted to write a book about a plus-sized Korean-American teen who is just happy with herself, and she gets what she works for in life without having to change what she looks like.
- Who is your favorite character in the book?
Skye Shin, the main character in the book, is my favorite. Her voice took me by surprise because she was unlike any other character I’d written before. And it was her voice, passion, and ambition that was the driving force of this book.
- Which came first, the title or the novel?
The novel came way before the title, haha. I’ll Be the One actually went through several titles, from You’re My Shining Star (based on the name of the k-pop competition in the book) to All the Stars and Lights (because it’s a book about being in the spotlight and also because it has a pivotal scene that refers to stars and lights). It took my editor, agent, and me months of brainstorming to come up with I’ll Be the One, which I randomly thought of one day while listening through the songs in my writing playlist for the book. One of the songs in that playlist is “Be the One” by Dua Lipa, and my team and I felt I’ll Be the One was the perfect fit because it not only touches on the competition aspect but also the sweet romance (Henry and Skye are “the One” for each other) in the book.
- Thinking way back to the beginning, what’s the most important thing you've learned as a writer from then to now?
I think the most important thing I’ve learned is the importance of taking care of myself and my writing. I spent so much time being in a rush to get published that I didn’t take time to take care of myself and produce my best work. In the end, I didn’t end up saving much time at all since I only learned how to properly revise my work near the end of my journey towards publication.
- What do you like most about the cover of the book?
I love everything about the cover of I’ll Be the One. It’s truly my dream cover, and I’m so grateful to my team for making it possible. All I wanted out of the cover was to have a plus size, Asian model in the cover, and they truly went above and beyond. So much thought and work went into the cover (https://www.epicreads.com/blog/ill-be-the-one-cover/), from choosing the model (@_isabae_ on Instagram, who is a plus size K-pop dancer that posts amazing choreography covers on her page) to choosing the background colors.
- What was your favorite book in 2019?
2019 was such a good year for books but my favorite one was On the Come Up by Angie Thomas. It’s exactly the book that I would have loved as a teen. As someone who was once a highly ambitious teen myself, I could relate with Bri, even as an adult. I also love how Angie Thomas richly develops her characters and their world so everything feels real. The book also offers smart commentary about the music industry and the way it exploits Black artists.
- What’s up next for you?
I have four more Mindy Kim (my chapter book series for younger readers) books coming out in 2021. Then I have another YA book coming out from Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins in Winter 2022 (previously Fall 2021). It’s about K-dramas and two girls falling in love.
- Which character gave you the most trouble when writing your latest book?
Even though she’s my favorite, Skye gave me the most trouble because she’s the most different from myself. Even though I do love to sing and dance, I hate performing and being in the center of attention. I get immense stage fright, which is the total opposite of Skye! To overcome this, I listened to a lot of music by pop queens from all over the world (Beyoncé, Sunmi, Lady Gaga, Dua Lipa, etc.) to get in the frame of mind for Skye’s performance scenes. Some of the songs I listened to while writing can be found in I’ll Be the One’s official playlist here.
- Which part of the writing process do you enjoy more: Drafting or Revising?
I am 100% Team Revising. I hate drafting with a passion. It’s the stage when I give up on projects the most. Writing the first draft of I’ll Be the One felt like pulling teeth. I love revising because I can “sculpt” my book into something I actually envisioned it to be. It’s where I get to delve deep into the characters and develop the plot and the world a bit more. It’s where the real fun happens for me.
I'll Be The One
By: Lyla Lee
Release Date: June 16th, 2020
One winner will receive a copy of I'll Be The One (Lyla Lee) ~ (US Only)
*Click the Rafflecopter link below to enter the giveaway*