Hello besties !!!
Welcome to another interview of the Pride Month event 2022 at Misty Realms 🤍
Today I am incredibly excited and honoured to welcome Lyla the wonderful author of FLIP THE SCRIPT (out NOW!) and I’LL BE THE ONE over here!! We talked about so much, like being Korean and queer, writing about characters who are discovering their sexuality, her sophomore novel— FLIP THE SCRIPT a fun thing she wants to do this Pride, Minjee + Hana and more!! I hope you enjoy reading 🇰🇷🌈
Flip the Script by Lyla Lee
In this simmering, joyous novel, I’ll Be the One author Lyla Lee delivers a tender romance set between two brave teens who decide that when the script isn’t working, it’s time to rewrite it themselves.
The first rule of watching K-dramas: Never fall in love with the second lead.
As an avid watcher of K-dramas, Hana knows all the tropes to avoid when she finally lands a starring role in a buzzy new drama. And she can totally handle her fake co-star boyfriend, heartthrob Bryan Yoon, who might be falling in love with her. After all, she promised the TV producers a contract romance, and that’s all they’re going to get from her.
But when show runners bring on a new lead actress to challenge Hana’s role as main love interest—and worse, it’s someone Hana knows all too well—can Hana fight for her position on the show, while falling for her on-screen rival in real life?
Find and order Flip the Script on:
Interview with Lyla Lee
Hello Lyla! Thank you so much for visiting us on Misty Realms for pride month. Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your writing journey till now?
Hi, Kashvi! Thank you SO MUCH for having me! I’m Lyla Lee, the author of the Mindy Kim series for younger readers and fun, queer books about K-pop and K-dramas for teens. My writing journey has been a very unorthodox and long one. Inspired by my teacher, I started writing stories when I was in fourth grade. I didn’t actually finish my first book until I was in eighth grade, however, and then spent eight years writing several books and getting rejected left and right by literary agents before I got my agent the summer after I graduated college. After that, I spent two more years being rejected by editors (haha), until I sold the Mindy Kim books, I’ll Be the One (my k-pop book), and Flip the Script (my K-drama book) all in one year. Compared to how long I spent getting rejected, my success seemed pretty instant. Both Mindy Kim and my YA books sold in less than a week. But, you know, it took me a while to get there. I’ve been a published author for two years now and whew, it has not been easy. But fortunately, the good outweighs the bad on most days. And whenever a reader tells me that my book helped them in some way (or even if they just say they had lots of fun!), all the hardships I endured and continue to endure seem worth it.
I do not have enough words to express how excited I am for Flip the Script! For those who may only be learning about Flip the Script for the first time, what is it about – and what is something that readers can look forward to when they read it?
Flip the Script is about Hana, a Korean American girl who gets cast as the star of the biggest K-drama of the year. In order to maintain the show’s popularity, the higher ups behind the show pressure her into fake-dating her male co-star, who is an internationally famous K-pop star. Fake-dating hijinks and unexpected friendships arise, but instead of developing feelings for her male co-star like everyone expects her to, Hana falls in love with her female co-star and longtime rival instead.
I love how unapologetically sapphic and Korean Flip the Script is. What was it like to write about characters, a story, and a setting that is integral to your own identity?
Even though I was born and have lived and/or stayed a significant chunk of my life in South Korea, I was always afraid of writing a book set in my native country. Something about writing about my home always seemed very daunting to me, and I guess I was afraid of “doing things wrong.” So quite honestly the biggest creative block for me was getting over this initial fear. The writing went much smoother once I got past that and started treating it like the book of my heart. Because it is one! And it’s a love letter to K-dramas as well. No matter where I lived (South Korea or various parts of the US), K-dramas were a constant presence in my life. As I always like to say, I grew up listening to K-pop and watching K-dramas. So it was extremely fun to FINALLY write a book about k-dramas. I really enjoyed not only incorporating (and parodying, haha) familiar k-drama tropes into the story but also breathing life into my own “K-drama world” and characters. It felt like writing about home, but in a way I never thought I could before.
As you have mentioned on Twitter Hana is bisexual but she doesn’t realise it at first. How was the experience of writing a character who explores their sexuality and queerness throughout the book?
Hana actually knows she is bisexual from the beginning, or at least, she does on a surface-level (i.e. celebrity crushes). But I think there’s definitely a difference between recognizing and labeling your identity vs actually going through the experiences/feelings with people who you know in real life. And Hana definitely experiences real-life, sapphic feelings for herself for the first time in Flip the Script when she starts crushing on her rival and best friend, Minjee.
I hope no one thinks this is a spoiler because it isn’t 😅 (I’ve been trying my best to tell everyone while promoting the book) but all three main characters of Flip the Script are queer. Hana is bi, Minjee is lesbian, and Bryan is pan. All three are in different parts of their queer journey. Hana is aware that she is not straight but is exploring the non-hetero aspect of her identity in real life for the first time. Minjee, because of her more traditional parents, is coming from a place of always being expected to and sometimes even being set up to date guys. But she realizes she’s not attracted to any of them, which leads her to realize that she’s lesbian…but she still struggles with some internalized homophobia because of the environment in which she was raised (Korean society is unfortunately very homophobic, and as someone who, unlike Hana, was born and grew up in South Korea, she struggles with this when Hana, who was raised with pretty open-minded parents in America, does not). Her journey is pretty different than Hana’s, but they’re able to take baby steps together. Finally, Bryan is pretty confident in his pansexual identity but is heavily closeted with no plans of publicly coming out any time soon due to his occupation as a teenaged K-pop star. K-pop company rules prevent (or try to prevent) him from actually dating anyone in the first place. Through all three characters, I really wanted to give the reader a sense that everyone has their own queer journey. And everyone’s journey and identity is valid. Also, sexual attraction and gender is a spectrum that can sometimes even be fluid throughout a person’s life.
Building up on the previous question, Minjee and Hana are both sapphic and Korean. What was the experience of exploring the intersection of these identities like for you? Did they intersect, or were they completely apart? Or was it both?
I’m one of the only openly queer Korean (or even Asian in general!) people I know. Yet, I have many more friends who are queer and Korean or other Asian and just haven’t publicly come out and/or have no plans to come out because they don’t feel safe, because they don’t want to disappoint family, because their family is religious or traditional, etc. A couple of them came out to me in confidence after they read my YA debut, I’ll Be the One, which also has an all-queer, all-Asian main cast. And even though the book came out in 2020, I still get emails from Korean and other Asian queer readers who said they could connect with my queer Korean stories. So all that has been amazing, and I just feel so honored by the fact that my book has made readers, friends and strangers alike, feel seen and safe enough to confide in me about these things.
Before I conclude I wanted to ask if you had any one fun thing you want to do in Pride Month 2022!!
I’m going to my first Pride Festival since 2017! And this year, my local Pride Festival (in Dallas) just happens to coincide with my release week, so I’ll be able to go as part of my “book tour.” I’ll be tabling at the Teen Pride section, so I’m excited to help teens have a fun Pride and maybe even tell them about my books.
That was it! Thank you so much for your time Lyla, it was so so lovely having you over on my blog, and I cannot wait to read Flip the Script and fall in love with it! Is there anything you would like to add?
Thank you so much for having me, Kashvi! Flip the Script comes out (or came out, depending on when this interview is published) on 5/31! I highly recommend it to anyone who loves K-dramas, queer or not. Readers can find me on my website, lylaleebooks.com or on Instagram, TikTok, and Twitter as @literarylyla. Hope everyone likes Flip the Script!
Lyla Lee is the author of young adult novels like I’ll Be the One and the upcoming Flip the Script (May 2022). She also writes the Mindy Kim series for younger readers. Born in South Korea, she’s since then lived in various cities throughout the United States. Inspired by her English teacher, she started writing her own stories in fourth grade and finished her first novel at the age of fourteen. After working various jobs in Hollywood and studying Psychology and Cinematic Arts at the University of Southern California, she now lives in Dallas, Texas. When she’s not writing, she likes to look for cute cafes and play with her dog, Eiva the Siberian Husky. Visit Lyla at lylaleebooks.com or on social media (IG, Twitter, and TikTok @literarylyla).
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Thank you so much Lyla for taking your time to do this interview for Misty Realms, I had a delightful time chatting about Flip the Script !!! HAPPY PRIDE 🏳️🌈