Hello Readers! Today, Dori Jones Yang, author of the award-winning The Forbidden Temptation of Baseball (and a bunch of other great books) is answering some questions about what she was like in junior high.
DC: So, Dori, did you always know you wanted to be an author?
DJY: Yes. When I was a kid, I even looked up my name in the library catalogue and was disappointed to see there was already an author with my name, Dorothy Jones.
DC: That is both wonderful and heartbreaking. How cool that you didn’t give up. What else were you like in junior high? Which of your characters were you most similar to?
DJY: I was a combination of Carson’s studiousness and Leon’s desire for adventure. I went to a public junior high with more than 400 kids in an industrial city in Ohio, so I was eager to see the world.
DC: That’s stuck with you—the kind of books you write help readers experience different places and cultures. Did you have friends from all over?
DJY: Actually, my friends were the smart kids I knew from elementary school. Most were Jewish, but I was not. I envied them their bat mitzvahs because they got to memorize passages in Hebrew.
DC: You may be the only teenager in the history of the world that listed “you get to memorize Hebrew” as a good thing—and that’s including Abraham, Moses.…
DJY: I did, however, read Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings over and over and taught myself—and my friends—to write in Elvish. We used it to send each other secret notes at school.
DC: That’s hilarious. You know what they say about Elvish…
DJY: What’s that?
DC: “Elvish: it’s not Hebrew, but it still looks cool and you can memorize it!” You kept yourself pretty busy, reading books and teaching yourself mystical languages. Did you have time for a job?
DJY: During the summers, I worked at my dad’s bookstore, folding newspapers, restocking books, and ringing up sales.
DC: Whoa, that is like the best job ever for someone who wants to be an author. I’m jealous! If you’d been able to squeeze in time for romance, which of your characters would you have dated?
DJY: Marco Polo as I imagined him: brilliant, thoughtful, articulate.
DC: Biggest regret—other than not getting to date Marco Polo or memorize long passages of Hebrew.
DJY: I wish I had spent less time thinking about boys and more time reaching out to kids who felt marginalized. For instance, if my characters had gone to school with me, I probably would have ignored awkward Priscilla, and her quiet immigrant classmate Gina Zhang. If I could go back in time I’d change that.
DC: What advice would your adult self give to your teen self?
DJY: Try to make friends from different racial and cultural backgrounds.
DC: I love that. And I love that you help us do that in each of your books!
A big thank you to Dori Jones Yang for stopping by. Readers, did you know that her teenage obsession with Hebrew and Elvish inspired her to learn Chinese? She assures me it looks even cooler than Elvish and is way harder to memorize…which is a plus for her!
Please read The Forbidden Temptation of Baseball and her other books, which you can find here.
You can also find Dori on Facebook here.
Like this interview? Check out my others here!