Looking for a sweet, fun read this summer? Try I Believe In a Thing Called Love by Maurene Goo and fall in love with Desi, K Drama fan and flirting failure.
Desi Lee knows she’s going to Stanford, but she’s a disaster in romance. So when the hottest human specimen to have ever lived walks into her life one day, Desi decides to tackle her flirting failures with the same zest she’s applied to everything else in her life. She finds her answer in the Korean dramas her father has been obsessively watching for years. Armed with her “K Drama Rules for True Love,” Desi goes after the moody, elusive artist Luca Drakos — and boat rescues, love triangles, and fake car crashes ensue.
I Believe in a Thing Called Love is your second novel after Since You Asked. What’s your favorite thing about I Believe In a Thing Called Love so far?
I love the anticipatory responses I’ve been getting — people literally gasping when I mention K dramas on book panels, or people seeing my cover and being excited that there’s a Korean girl’s face smiling on it. And all the Asian American k drama fans who come up to me at events — it’s been so gratifying and exciting.
The idea of looking to Korean dramas as romantic inspiration is fantastic, and incidentally the funny-as-heck hook that drew me to your book. Are you a K-drama enthusiast like Desi? If so, what are some of your favorites?
Yes, I am! It’s one of the reasons why I wrote the book. Some of my favorite are Healer, It’s Okay That’s Love, Oh My Ghostess, and Jealousy Incarnate.
Both I Believe In a Thing Called Love and Since You Asked have Asian cover models, which is absolutely wonderful. Why is it important to you to write Korean girl main characters, but also for your books to have Korean cover models?
I read about a bazillion books growing up, and never read one with a Korean American main character. The closest I got was Claudia Kishi of the Baby-Sitters Club series. A big reason why I started writing YA was to write books I didn’t see growing up. And there still aren’t that many contemporary YA books out there with Asian American characters so I feel very strongly about writing them myself. Also? I know how to write these characters, their family dynamics, the culture they grew up with, etc. As for my cover, I was adamant that we have a Korean girl — not Asian, but Korean, specifically. We can tell the difference! I knew it would be important but I had no idea I would get such an emotional response from readers who were so happy to see someone like them on a fun, girly YA book cover. It’s been so wonderful.
The relationship between the main character, Desi, and her widowed Appa is strong throughout the book. Can you tell us about choosing to depict a healthy and stable parent-child relationship in I Believe In a Thing Called Love?
In my first book, I explored the fraught relationship that a lot of children of immigrants have with their parents (based closely on my own experiences!) so when I was writing this book, I really wanted to explore a different kind of parental relationship. But it wasn’t really planned. Once I started writing Desi’s dad, their relationship just came fully formed in my brain. It’s hard to explain but that often happens to writers! Another thing: In many K dramas, there are very cute and warm family dynamics, especially between daughters and fathers. And so I was inspired by that as well.
What’s next for you after I Believe In a Thing Called Love? Another book? Something else?
I’m working on another contemporary YA with a Korean American main character. It’s a summer book and it takes place in Los Angeles, my hometown. I’m so excited to share more details when I can!
Is there anything else you’d like readers to know about you or I Believe In a Thing Called Love?
I had so much fun writing this book and it was truly a labor of love — I hope readers enjoy it and then immediately stream K dramas.