Allison's Book Bag

Author Paula Yoo

Posted on: April 10, 2012

Paula Yoo has some interesting stories to tell about how she knew when she wanted to become a writer. For example, according to her profile at Lee and Low, Yoo began writing short stories and even mini-novels in kindergarten. On the back of the latter, she’d even draw a picture of herself with a biography that read: “Paula Yoo, age 7, is a second grader at Keeney Elementary School. This is her first book.”

In an interview at Asia in the Heart, World on the Mind, Yoo shares that after reading Charlotte’s Web in the first grade, she felt inspired to write her own stories. Her first “novel” was a 75-page handwritten book entitled “The Girl Called Raindrop.” Yoo submitted it to Harper & Row because they published her favorite series, the Little House on the Prairie books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Yoo received a nice letter from them saying that she was ‘talented’ and should consider trying out for their writing contest for children ages seven to ten. However, Yoo was so upset they were rejecting ‘The Girl Called Raindrop’ that she tore up the letter. She thought, ‘I’m not a CHILD writer, I’m a REAL writer!’

Basically, Yoo has wanted to be a writer since the moment she learned to read. She loves putting words on paper to create a whole new world, an entire universe filled with fascinating characters. And–Yoo wanted to have her picture on the back of a book, just like her favorite authors!

Before becoming a full-time writer,Yoo worked as a freelance musician, English and music teacher, journalist, and tv screenwriter. By working as a reporter for The Seattle Times, The Detroit News, and PEOPLE Magazine, she paid off her journalism graduate student loans. Journalism taught her how to write on deadline. Yoo then taught for a little bit before switching over to being a full-time TV screenwriter for shows like Beyond the Break (The N), Eureka (SyFy), Hidden Palms (The CW), Side Order of Life (Lifetime), Tru Calling (FOX), and The West Wing (NBC).

Her lifelong dream of becoming an author came true with the publication of Sixteen Years in Sixteen Seconds: The Sammy Lee Story. He was the first Asian American to win a gold medal at the Olympics in 1948 for diving after facing racial discrimination. Yoo submitted her nonfiction book to the Lee & Low Books “New Voices” contest, because she loved their books and thought it’d be a good entry for them.

Her first young adult novel Good Enough was written between her TV jobs. Yoo says, “I was unemployed and took advantage of the free time to work on a new novel. I wrote about my life as a teen violin geek. I literally wrote this novel in five weeks straight. It just poured out of me. I then revised it and sent it to my agent and he submitted it to yes, HarperCollins, and they finally decided I was a ‘real’ writer and not a ‘child’ writer and published it!”

The above information I compiled from mostly from online biographies. I encourage you to also check these interviews:

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