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BBAW: Day 2 - Interview with Steph Su Reads

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Steph Su - Steph Su Reads
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1. Tell us about yourself and the place you call home.

Home. Huh. That’s an interesting concept. Home is where my heart and mind are, and that is currently Shanghai, China, where I’m in my second year of being an educational consultant. There are approximately the same number of people living in Shanghai as there are in Taiwan total, so I’m learning new ways to negotiate society and cities everyday. Prior to Shanghai, I was a college student at Swarthmore, which is located in a decisively intellectual small town on the outskirts of Philadelphia. Three-story Victorian-style houses with multi-color paint jobs and towers (yes, towers) lined the sidewalked streets. And then I grew up in a town in New Jersey about 40 minutes outside of New York City, where there were very few sidewalks. Which is why I appreciate them so much now.

2. When and why did you start blogging? Has your blog image changed since you’ve first started? 

I started blogging in January 2009, because I had a large Word document containing reviews I had written and wanted to share them, and because I stumbled upon a few book blogs and thought I could do that too. It’s been quite a crazy 3+ years! Now, with my job, I have less time to work on my blog, so I really miss those days of painstakingly but passionately writing discussion posts and coming up with unique interview questions for authors or bloggers.

My current blog banner was designed by my talented artist friend Carey. I like the simplicity of a black-and-white layout. I designed my previous blog banner. It was cute, but it was much too girly for my taste. Hence the current theme. 

3. I first found your blog from discussions on Asians/Asian Americans in YA lit. I loved reading your discussion posts as well as reading about your trip to Shanghai. What were some interesting things you’ve learned from your trip to China? What were some of your favorite foods and experiences? 

Well, I’m still here, so my “trip” isn’t over yet! Chinese cities are astoundingly, fascinatingly different from American cities. There is a very clear mix of socioeconomic classes here. Near my office, women in pretty clothes and high-high-high heels stride past beggars calling for spare change in front of the rows of internationally recognized high-end stores: Gucci, Prada, Ermenegildo Zegna, Louis Vuitton. I’ve acquitted a repertoire of high-end brand names since being here.  

Walk a few blocks in any direction, though, and suddenly you’re strolling down nineteenth-century European-style apartment complexes, laundry strung across the lane and senior citizens lounging in bamboo-woven chairs right in the middle of the sidewalk. Everyone has an iPhone: on their breaks the street-sweepers in their light-blue gunk-resistant uniforms sit in a row on the curb and play Angry Birds.

Being in Shanghai has made me realize how little I knew of the world and mankind before coming here. The city is a rare beast that rewards you and yet threatens to devour you if you’re not constantly alert.

4. What are your favorite reads from this year so far? 

Froi of the Exiles by Melina Marchetta topped the incredible Finnikin of the Rock: it is an epic fantasy achievement that I need to sit down with and reread again, slowly and more carefully. Speaking of epic fantasy reads, The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss is another I was so glad to have read this year. Along different lines, Among Others by Jo Walton was an unexpected, odd, and delightful collection of journal entries from a bookish and slightly magical girl. Most recently, I was absolutely blown away by how R. J. Palacio delicately yet deftly wove together multiple narratives in Wonder, which was one of the most uplifting stories about humanity I’ve read in a long time.

5. If you were to share an apartment with three YA characters, who would they be? 

Stargirl will motivate me to try new things with her endless enthusiasm and optimism. A member of the Screw Crew (from Lili Wilkinson’s Pink), for the interesting intellectual conversations that would ensue. And I think Jubilee, from Maureen Johnson’s short story “The Jubilee Express” in the Let It Snow collection, could round out our apartment. Her wry personality can make things humorous but I think she’s also nerdy enough to appreciate everyone’s quirks.

6. How do you pick your next read? Are you more likely to read a book that has been hyped or are you more of a mood reader? 

I don’t have one particular method. I try to be good and prioritize review books, but I need variety in my reads: if I’ve read a string of fantasies, I’ll go for a YA contemporary, or if I’ve tired of reviewing six YA books in a row, I’ll pick up a classic work. I’ve stupidly let hype bite me in the butt more times than I care to remember, so I do my best to resist it now, and go for the books that will truly give me a rewarding experience. 

7. Has being part of the book blogging community changed you in anyway? I have noticed that ever since I’ve joined I’ve been more aware of current news. 

It’s made me a lot more confident! I usually never know what to say in a group, but with book bloggers I can talk for hours about books, genre tropes that bug us, our hopes and fears for the future of YA publishing. That confidence has spread into my “real life” as well: I find that I can carry on a one-on-one conversation much better now. I’m still hopeless in a large group, though.

8. Do you have a question that you always wished someone would ask you?

I can’t think of any one question that would help people better understand me. Well, maybe people can ask me, “Why are you so quiet in large groups?” and then I can say, “I’m better expressed through writing.” And then those who matter can find their way to my writings.

I had a lot of fun getting to know more about Steph. One of the many things I like about BBAW is getting to interact with other bloggers. Be sure to check out my interview on Steph Su's blog


  1. Wonderful interview, Steph Su and Vy! I had no idea that Steph Su and I started blogging at the same time. I have always followed her blog and love it. So great to learn more about you, Steph Su! I will have to go check out your interview now, Vy!

  2. I really love the pictures in this interview!! I have followed VY since the beginning of her blog but hadn't discovered Steph Su!! I love Steph Su's blog!!!


  3. Steph Su's blog is amazing. Great interview! I liked hearing more about China.

  4. Wonderful Interview!. what gr8 new blog to follow


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