Welcome to Kicking Back with Kick-butt!
We’re chatting with Lyla Lee, the author of
MINDY KIM AND THE YUMMY SEAWEED BUSINESS
Mindy Kim just wants three things:
1. A puppy!
2. To fit in at her new school
3. For her dad to be happy again
But, getting all three of the things on her list is a lot trickier than she thought it would be. On her first day of school, Mindy’s school snack of dried seaweed isn’t exactly popular at the lunch table. Luckily, her new friend, Sally, makes the snacks seem totally delicious to Mindy’s new classmates, so they decide to start the Yummy Seaweed Business to try and raise money for that puppy!
When another student decides to try and sabotage their business, Mindy loses more than she bargained for—and wonders if she’ll ever fit in. Will Mindy be able to overcome her uncertainty and find the courage to be herself?
Let’s talk to this lovely author about her fabulous books!
This is Lyla. Everyone say, “Hi, Lyla!”
Welcome to Kick-Butt Kidlit, Lyla! Tell us about yourself!
Hi! I’m Lyla. Although I currently live in Dallas, Texas, I was born in a small town in South Korea and have lived all over the US. My MG debut, Mindy Kim and the Yummy Seaweed Business comes out in January 14, 2020 with Aladdin Books/Simon & Schuster, and my YA debut, I’ll Be the One comes out in June 2020 with Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins.
MINDY KIM AND THE YUMMY SEAWEED BUSINESS is the first book in your new chapter book series. Are you able to share a bit about the adventures you have planned for Mindy?
Sure! The second book, Mindy Kim and the Lunar New Year Parade actually comes out on the same day as the first book (1/14) so you won’t have to wait for the next installment in Mindy’s adventures. 😉 That book was an homage to the lunar new year celebrations that I had with my family while growing up. After that, Mindy goes on a lot of other fun adventures like getting a puppy (out in May 2020) and running for class president (out in Fall 2020)!
Oh, yay! Sounds like readers will get to have a ton of fun with Mindy this year!
If you had started a secret trading ring at school when you were a kid, what would you have traded in? Delicious snacks or something else?
Haha, the funny thing is that Mindy Kim #1 was actually based on a REAL snack trading ring that a friend and I started in elementary school. We traded seaweed snacks, just like Mindy, in exchange for different yummy snacks. We never did anything that got us in trouble for it, though. ^_^;
Ha! That’s awesome.
What were three interesting things you discovered while working on MINDY KIM?
I love doing research for my books, and I’m always finding out new things while writing the Mindy Kim series. Three interesting things I’ve had to look up are: the smartest ways to train a dog, various ways to cook Korean food (although I love eating my mom’s cooking, unfortunately I only know how to make a few dishes), and the exact locations of various places from my childhood neighborhood in Florida (3rd grade me didn’t have access to Google maps, sadly).
If you could transport your characters across book dimensions, which book would you most like them to end up in and why?
I think Mindy would have so much fun with the books in the Magic Treehouse series! The adventures across time and space in those books were my favorite while I was growing up, and I’m sure Mindy would love them as well (as long as she gets to stop to pet cute dogs along the way).
That would be an epic crossover!
Why were you drawn to writing for kids?
I grew up reading kids’ books and even when I technically became “too old” to read kidlit, I never stopped reading them. I was also starved for representation in the books I read so writing diverse books for kids seemed like a natural calling for me.
Any hints about your next book project?
My YA, which debuts later this year, is about a bisexual plus sized Korean American girl who enters a K-pop competition! You can find out more about it on my website. https://lylaleebooks.com/books/
What has been the most surprising part of your publishing journey?
The #1 most surprising thing has definitely been the timing of everything. I went from not being able to get an agent and sell a book for ten years to selling not one but six books in the span of the same year or so. It’s been a wild ride for sure!
What are you reading right now?
A lot of my friends have books that either came out last year or are coming out this year so I’ve been reading my friends’ books! I’m reading BLOOD HEIR by my friend, Amelie Zhao, and also, DIAMOND CITY by Francesca Flores, which is out this month.
What’s your favourite piece of kick-butt advice?
Remember to self-care because the publication journey is a marathon, not a race. I’m a bit of a workaholic, so I often overwork myself because there are so many things I want to do. In the past, I tended to not really take care of myself and that often led to not-so-good consequences like burnout, fatigue, etc. I really wish I’d learned to take care of myself sooner but I’m doing my best to do that now. Happy, healthy writers can write more words in the long-run!
That is EXCELLENT advice!
Thank you so much for joining us, Lyla!
Kick-butt Kidlit friends, check out the MINDY KIM series.
The first two books are out now!
Add the MINDY KIM series on Goodreads!
Click here to enter to win a copy of MINDY KIM AND THE YUMMY SEAWEED BUSINESS!
Contest closes Thursday, January 30th at 11:59 pm EST
Thanks for reading!