We teamed up with Belletrist to bring you #WhyNotYA—a conversation centered around young adult books, where hosts Ebony LaDelle from Epic Reads and Karah Preiss from Belletrist interview authors who talk about important themes of female empowerment in their YA novels!
In this episode, we chatted with Nicola Yoon about The Sun Is Also a Star—everything from the book to movie process to the book’s themes of immigration. This was previously aired in May 2019.
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hi Tara and ebony and we are actually on the west coast for why not why a meaning California and we're here with the unbelievable author Nicola youn who is the author of thank you for coming we're well we came to you actually yes it is warmer here so I'm happy to be here so we are going to talk about this phenomenal book that is going to be a movie that is coming out and it's starring so we're here to talk about the Sun is also a star we're gonna talk about the book we're gonna talk a little bit about the movie and then we're gonna have you guys ask us questions so let's get started so in the Sun and also a star we meet etosha who is jamaican-born brooklyn bread girl who has 24 hours before she is being deported and then we also meet Daniel who's a Korean American boy and he is going to an Ivy League interview yeah he isn't necessarily sure he wants to be a part of so we start each episode with the quote and we pulled this one and what about the lovers who spent hours staring into each other's eyes is it a display of trust I will let you in close and trust you not to hurt me while I'm in this vulnerable position and if Trust is one of the foundations of love perhaps the staring is a way to build or reinforce it or maybe it's simpler than that a simple search for connection to see to be seen so beautiful so this month's theme is immigration and part of the immigration experience I feel like this identity you're kind of like pulled between two worlds or what it means in American and what it means to be like insert wherever you or your family is from so Natasha struggles going back to Jamaica because America has been home and all she's known for like as long as she can remember Daniel seems so much more sure of itself and in his own skin being korean-american while his brother kind of struggle so what inspired you to add those you know for me when I first came from Korea but David was born in Dallas and so you know you're his parents are sort of trying to keep a Korea that doesn't really exist anymore but he's an American kid right so it's this feeling of floating in between yeah and then well let's talk about like you know being the – Mike and it's like Jamaican Matty yeah yeah but I also think like lots of kids feel that way right I mean I think being a teenager is partly about trying to figure out where you fit mm-hmm so like talking about immigration or the immigrant experience is a way of talking about just figuring out your own identity anyway trying to become yeah I mean oh we're always becoming but like those teenage years I think like particularly so it was a good way for me to talk about identity and to talk about immigration as a thing yeah and part of both of their identities are all their identities are very different um you know Natasha is very logical she's very scientific and Daniel could not be more different in terms of being extremely passionate and a romantic we usually actually see those reversed with gender like the men are sort of closed off and women are you know sort of hopeless romantics why did you I don't want to say you necessarily verted it because I think anybody can be anything but why did you choose to do that is it based on your own life so it's not really basically but I did deliberately switch it and I was a major in college right so like I was very nice though science is like a math Doric and so I really did want to switch it because I knew a lot of girls I thought we never see them but we don't and then the other part of it is I really sort of want to talk about art and science you know cuz I think we always tend to think that are opposed and I don't really think that yeah I mean we say I think kids say I'm a math person or English person I think mostly everyone's good at both mm-hmm I mean thing that I always say is that art and science they're trying to get to the truth but they just approach it a little different it's the best thing what they're trying to discover it during the day together Daniel they need to like figure out yeah I wasn't even thinking of that reading because I was so swept up in them as character yeah you too reviews them as representations of art inside yes yeah that's very interesting so let's kind of talk about that coming into the middle um so much of the book is about like fate or luck or destiny um especially when it comes to love but it also is about luck when it comes to nationality like all of us sitting on this couch we can't help like where we were born what our skin color is and it's the same you know for them so your writing style is told from the perspective of both of them but also all the people they encounter throughout the day and like they're kind of their fates um I love this part I love that you have incorporated this writing style where did you get this idea from like when you were writing a scene with Natasha and then she almost gets hit did you decide you know what he needs a chapter I'm gonna give the driver a sub chapter or like I'm gonna talk about like Daniels parents owned a here store my hair supply store and it's like oh I'm gonna have a chapter on here which I absolutely love like how did you come to that process okay wait that's not where is it it's right here right check it out in order to apply you must first invent the whole world so you basically need all these ingredients to get to any flour to do the book is to show how everything led them to follow you so like everyone everyone they encountered during the day the strangers the family members like their ancestors yeah nothing leads to the moment that you're experiencing right now hmm so I didn't know I wanted to do that so then what I would like you know it something would happen to Natasha oh that's good like how that person came to be were there like any stores or just like oh I don't want to give this one up I want this be in a book but it's just not gonna work you know it's and I wanted her story in but I didn't know how it was so like most of the stories was all the little better but hers doesn't know what happens I just don't know why she's like yeah yeah yeah I love that so much I always think about it when I'm on the train if I knew everybody's story I know I think my mother so yeah New York like what what I would know all these stories our lives are so big and busy right going on with us all the time and if we knew the backstories they'll make such a big difference between oh you to each other there would be like a little bit more grace you know you wouldn't be mean to that first stuff right right because you would know what was happening so I wish there's something that you could take away from the book I would want that to be one of the fears maybe we could just sort of slow down take a breath and maybe we would be yeah so the book is also a love story obviously that's at the core of it and you know I think basically the thing that's so striking is like these two are dealing with huge life-changing decisions and they both find one another fall in love and it's kind of indicative of how love can be like come out of complete left field um I guess how did you decide to create the constraint of like a day and this like basically like very very intense day of their love and this like like basically it seems like the most important things are like how did you decide we're as opposed to other love stories sometimes are very stretched out or it takes a long time to get to know each other or whatever it may be like how did you decide to like make this the most important day I loved before sunrise so I love that do you think that your life can change you know you know that's a very scientific approach star awesome really help though with like how the books turned out cuz I removed like the premise when I first saw the premise I was like how how is she gonna do this like how is she gonna make me believe that they fell in love and I believed it so but no like it makes somewhat it makes it more like okay how much can I get in this so there are so many elements of love that you talked about in the story – that doesn't just deal with Daniel and Natasha it's like love for family love for your culture and like love for being American Natasha is being rejected by this country that she loves so much and so like when you started this it was like universal love also a goal for like a theater theme in the book and I think that's developed wanted them but then once I started writing about their families yeah Daniel's parents just love him yes yeah he's fighting against because he wants to be a poet but his dad comes from poverty right and so the way he knows how to love him is to try to make sure that he doesn't have to suffer and you know latasha's dad loves his daughter but he sort of he loves art right and so there's a tension between those things yeah so I didn't necessarily set out to talk about those different times but they just came in to the story yeah because all the stuff pushes them like all the stuff that makes mccoshen Danielle are those other people yeah yeah so I want to go into movie time okay really it actually reminded me a little bit Dicky relationship the poet X does it well too in terms of having sympathy for a parent that he isn't on the same page necessarily as their teenage yeah child which i think is so relatable yeah just in terms of like it's so hard for us as teenagers to have sympathy for our parents we just don't think that their honor our pain yeah like they programmed you they created you okay I think it's it's honestly more about like detaching and that's why we do that today I love that about good young adult fiction which is just like it really brings me back to that place of like yeah like in that moment all you all you see is this horrible person you're trying to run my life and then as you get older you just like this this was so much more complex and I I see like why this decision could have been wrong like on your end but I also see like what was like driving you to you know make me do those yeah I can imagine um so few questions we were talking backstage you said that you really loved the movie and were you able to go on set yes we even have a cameo fluency because it's shot in New York yeah were you at all involved in casting like did you did you like have any oh yeah I read somewhere that like you kind of help well so I talked to the producer she's like well we are sure who we want so then I ended up saying you know for Danielle like the producers didn't really know but also I love that I want know I need to be in this role um so are we I want to save the brief okay said you want to ask one more question with the movie um what was like your favorite you have like a favorite story on set that you can tell us about I mean there's nothing like its particular it's just watching them banter I mean it was such a like miley absolute energy and it's also it felt really indeed because it's in New York get out there do this take 4,000 it was I love being on this side sort of watching the McKinley yeah yeah it's wild it's funny I get everyone New York is so jaded but they're just like I'm sure they were shooting [Laughter] speaking of which are you working on anything that you can share you can't talk about them you're next why a book get ready we don't have questions no matter but maybe we had them on Instagram but other people what I'll say is if you are watching this after live and you want to ask a question ask the question we'll try to get it to you and can anybody find you online so thank you so much thank you really excited do you are we giving away a copy yes so we are giving away a signed copy of the book so make sure to write in the comments below and tell us what you think about the discussion you can ask questions you can give your thoughts you can let us know if you read the book and you want a second copy there's nothing wrong with that so well and oh let me say before we go there are these very beautiful folk colors movie pictures which don't always come in fiction well thank you so much thank you thank you guys for watching you're watching post live thank you guys for watching it's great I'll see you next time