Author Chat with Mariko Turk (The Other Side Of Perfect), Plus Giveaway! ~ (US Only)
Today we're excited to chat with Mariko Turk author of
The Other Side Of Perfect.
Read on for more about Mariko, her book, plus an giveaway!
Meet Mariko Turk!
Mariko Turk teaches writing and rhetoric classes and works as a writing tutor at the University of Colorado Boulder. She received her PhD in English from the University of Florida, with a concentration in children’s literature. The Other Side of Perfect is her debut novel.
Meet The Other Side of Perfect!
For fans of Sarah Dessen and Mary H.K. Choi, this lyrical and emotionally driven YA follows Alina, an aspiring dancer who suffers a devastating injury and must face a world without ballet -- as well as the darker side of her former dream.
Alina Keeler was destined to dance, but then a terrifying fall shatters her leg -- and her dreams of a professional ballet career along with it.
After a summer healing (translation: eating vast amounts of Cool Ranch Doritos and binging ballet videos on YouTube), she is forced to trade her pre-professional dance classes for normal high school, where she reluctantly joins the school musical. However, rehearsals offer more than she expected -- namely Jude, her annoyingly attractive castmate she just might be falling for.
But to move forward, Alina must make peace with her past and face the racism she experienced in the dance industry. She wonders what it means to yearn for ballet -- something so beautiful, yet so broken. And as broken as she feels, can she ever open her heart to someone else?
Touching, romantic, and peppered with humor, this debut novel explores the tenuousness of perfectionism, the possibilities of change, and the importance of raising your voice.
~ Author Chat ~
YA Books Central Q&A
THE OTHER SIDE OF PERFECT – Mariko Turk
What gave you the inspiration to write this book?
I danced growing up, but I wasn’t good enough to be on the professional track. When I was in my twenties, I broke my leg while I was dancing ballet. It sucked, but I remember being so grateful that the injury hadn’t happened when I was a teenager, because dancing was such a huge part of my identity then that losing it would have been devastating. I’ve also always been interested in how people grapple with the negative aspects of the things they love. I love ballet, but I know it has its share of harmful aspects—like its lack of diversity and its reliance on racial stereotypes in many classical pieces. So if ballet perpetuates these negative things, does that mean I shouldn’t love it? And if I do still love and support it, what does that mean about me?
These questions combined with memories of my injury. I started imagining what would happen if a 16-year-old half-Japanese girl who dreamed of dancing professionally had a career-ending injury and had to deal with losing something she loved with all her heart and with wondering if she ever should have loved it in the first place. Her story became THE OTHER SIDE OF PERFECT.
Who is your favorite character in the book?
I have to go with my main character, Alina! She’s messy, snarky, ambitious, and she feels her feelings to the fullest extent. I love that she is sometimes unlikeable. I love that her serious, passionate personality doesn’t know what to do with itself after she loses ballet. I love that even though she starts out so broken, she pieces herself back together, bit by bit.
Which came first, the title or the novel?
Definitely the novel! I’m not great at coming up with titles, which is why the original title for this book was MY BEAUTIFUL THING. It became FOR THE BEST during submission—a title that I still really like. But then my agent, editor, and I brainstormed a lot and came up with THE OTHER SIDE OF PERFECT. I love it because it encapsulates Alina’s journey so well.
Thinking way back to the beginning, what’s the most important thing you've learned as a writer from then to now?
To just write. To just keep going and not spend forever fiddling with that one sentence for the millionth, billionth time until it’s “perfect.” My tendency to edit as I wrote really slowed me down and stopped me from finishing so many projects because I’d get so caught up in the minutiae that I’d lose steam. THE OTHER SIDE OF PERFECT is the first book I ever finished, and it’s because I told myself I had to keep moving. I knew I’d have lots of changes to make. Sometimes I realized what those changes should be when I finished a chapter. But I didn’t go back to change them until I had a full draft.
What new release book are you looking most forward to in 2021?
It’s a three-way tie because I can never pick just one.
Six Crimson Cranes by Elizabeth Lim: I love the Six Swans fairytale and can’t wait to read how Lim retells it.
Not Here to be Liked by Michelle Quach: Contemporary YAs with romance and ambitious heroines are my favorite, and this one looks like it’s going to be amazing.
Blood Like Magic by Liselle Sambury: I hear it has witches, first love, and fascinating worldbuilding. Yes please!
What’s up next for you?
I’m working on my next book, which is a YA contemporary that features a haunted hotel.
Which part of the writing process do you enjoy more: Drafting or Revising?
Revising! Drafting can be super exciting but also super nerve-wracking. Revising is where everything comes together. I find it less terrifying than staring at a blank page. You’ve already built the groundwork, and now you get to clean it up, tighten the pacing, tie all the threads together, and then pretend it was like that from the beginning.
The Other Side Of Perfect
By: Mariko Turk
Release Date: May 11th, 2021
Publisher: Little Brown BYR
Three winners will each receive a copy of The Other Side of Perfect (Mariko Turk) ~ (US Only)
*Click the Rafflecopter link below to enter the giveaway*
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