Saturday, June 6, 2015

Ana Huang, Author of All I've Never Wanted

all i've never wanted, ana huang, ana huang author, young adult romance

Ana Huang is the author of the young adult contemporary romance novel All I've Never Wanted.

Tell us a bit about yourself.
I’m a 24-year-old Florida native currently living in Washington D.C., better known to some as ACRL37 on Wattpad. I have been reading and writing for as long as I can remember—you should see my bookcases at home! However, writing is very personal to me, and it’s actually something I’ve kept secret from my family and friends, except for my mom. Whenever I’m feeling sad or stressed about something in real life, I escape into writing, and so a lot of my stories are based on real-life events. All I’ve Never Wanted is one of the few exceptions. I actually started writing it when I was sixteen, and it was a lot of fun, because it has these larger-and-life characters that I could go crazy with.

However, besides reading and writing, I also enjoy traveling, politics, movies, brunch, and shopping. I will also be attending graduate school for international affairs this fall, so hopefully, I will still have time to write!

Describe the plot of your new book, All I've Never Wanted, in a few sentences.
In All I’ve Never Wanted, a regular teenage girl unwillingly becomes involved with the most popular guys at her school. As a result, her life is suddenly filled with drama and excitement, from private jets to kidnappings to lots of puppy love (literally and figuratively). On the surface, the book is a high school romance, but it’s really about friendship. Most of the characters are less-than-perfect, but despite their flaws, they stick together and help each other through their problems, proving that family does not have to be biological. Sometimes, it’s just who you make it to be.

Who do you think would most appreciate this book?
It is a Young Adult novel, so its main audience will most likely fall on the younger end of the spectrum. However, I think anyone who loves a mix of romance, humor, drama, and a dash of mystery will also enjoy this book. 

What inspired you to write a book about a girl who gets everything she never asked for?
The actual story was inspired by an Asian TV show that I watched called Boys over Flowers. Of course, I mixed it up a bit, changed some characters around and added a few twists and turns. At the same time, I’ve read a lot of books and watched a lot of movies where the girl gets “saved” by Prince Charming, and I thought, what happens if the girl doesn’t need saving or doesn’t want to be saved? From that idea on the rest, as they say, was history.

Tell us a bit about the protagonist, Maya Lindberg.
Maya is very intelligent and loyal, but while she’s “book smart,” she also grew up quite sheltered. She’s also not someone who necessarily tries to be tough and independent, but she has principles and she’s willing to stand up for them. That’s a major reason why she disliked the Scions so much in the beginning. She hated how they lorded their power over everyone else but she hated herself more for not standing up to them. In the end, though, her principles won out, causing her outburst at Stan’s party and setting in motion the events in the rest of the book.

What is the social atmosphere like at Valesca Academy?
Most of the students at Valesca Academy are very wealthy, and as a result they are quite jaded and materialistic. It is definitely a very competitive and sometimes toxic environment where money matters more than anything else, which is why the Scions are so revered. Not only did they come from some of the most powerful families in the world, but their ancestors founded the school and the town, so even the school staff is wary of them. While everyone else has to play by the rules, the Scions get free reign—in fact, they’re the ones who make the rules. There’s not a lot of leeway when it comes to the social hierarchy at Valesca. 

The Scions are four richest, most powerful guys at Valesca Academy. What else can you tell us about the Scions?
As I mentioned earlier, the Scions’ families founded Valesca Academy and the town itself. Their families have been friends for generations, so the four of them—Roman, Parker, Zack, and Carlo—have pretty much been friends since conception. Their status and background is quite unique and sets them apart from the rest of the students at Valesca, all of whom want to get close to them just for their money or the status boost. The Scions know this, which is why they keep to themselves. They all have very different personalities—Parker’s the playboy, Zack is the goofy one, Carlo is the sensitive one, and Roman is the controlling alpha male—but in the end that’s what makes the group work. The Scions are a mini-family and they always look out for their own.

Who was your favorite character to write?
Hmmm…it’s difficult to pick just one, but I would have to go with the grandma. She is just so ridiculous and over-the-top that I don’t have to hold back when I’m writing about her, which I love.

Humor is a big part of your novel. Has humor always been important to your writing?
Actually, humor is quite new to me. I usually specialize in romance and drama, and I didn’t initially plan for All I’ve Never Wanted to be humorous. However, the more I wrote, the more humor injected itself into the story, especially when it comes to the funnier characters like Zack and Venice. The humor component definitely made writing a lot more fun!

How long have you been writing?
For as long as I can remember! Writing has always been my safe haven, even when I was a child.

How do you think you've evolved as a writer since when you first started?
I’ve learned a lot over the years about plot and character development. In the beginning, I was always impatient to get to the scenes I knew I wanted to write, so I rushed through everything else. Now, I’m a lot more patient and spend more time developing the characters and details of the story instead of just the major events. 

What are your goals as a writer for the next ten years?
My goal is to broaden my genres as a writer. At the moment, I’m most comfortable writing YA and romance, but I really want to try my hand at mystery and/or fantasy in the future.

Have you ever had writer's block?
Yes, tons of times! Writer’s block is really frustrating and I’ve learned that it doesn’t help to just sit at my desk and stare at my blank computer screen. That only makes me more frustrated. Instead, when I have writer’s block, I push writing out of my mind and just go out, have fun with my friends, listen to music, etc. Usually, I get inspired by something I see or hear in daily life and I can start writing again.

What do you have in mind for your next project?
For my next project, I will be focusing on rewriting If We Ever Meet Again. The original version was originally posted on Wattpad alongside All I’ve Never Wanted, but it’s quite different in that it’s more mature and more realistic. In fact, most of the events in If We Ever Meet Again were inspired by my own study abroad experiences. Once I finish rewriting it, I hope to publish it traditionally.

Is there anything else you'd like potential readers to know about your book?
All I’ve Never Wanted is meant to be a light and fun read. The events and characters may be more dramatic and over-the-top than people in real life, but that’s what makes it a great escape!

 An excerpt from All I've Never Wanted:
“Why you get ride from strange boys?” My grandmother glared at my mom. “This how you raise daughter?”

My mom just looked bewildered. She obviously had no idea what was going on. Actually, neither did I.

“No, he’s not a strange boy!” I was desperate to make this stop. “He’s—uh…“ Suddenly, I had a lightbulb moment. “He’s my boyfriend!”

My mom, grandmother, and Parker all whipped their heads around to stare at me in shock. They spoke at the same time.

“He is?”

“You are?”

“I am?”

I smiled sweetly and reached out to grab Parker’s hand, squeezing it tighter than normal. “Yes. This is Parker. He was the boyfriend I told you about.”

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