Thursday, February 1, 2018

Welcome to the FFBC: American Panda by Gloria Chao Interview + Giveaway!!

American Panda

by Gloria Chao
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release Date: February 6th 2018
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Fiction


An incisive, laugh-out-loud contemporary debut about a Taiwanese-American teen whose parents want her to be a doctor and marry a Taiwanese Ivy Leaguer despite her squeamishness with germs and crush on a Japanese classmate.

At seventeen, Mei should be in high school, but skipping fourth grade was part of her parents' master plan. Now a freshman at MIT, she is on track to fulfill the rest of this predetermined future: become a doctor, marry a preapproved Taiwanese Ivy Leaguer, produce a litter of babies.

With everything her parents have sacrificed to make her cushy life a reality, Mei can't bring herself to tell them the truth--that she (1) hates germs, (2) falls asleep in biology lectures, and (3) has a crush on her classmate Darren Takahashi, who is decidedly not Taiwanese.

But when Mei reconnects with her brother, Xing, who is estranged from the family for dating the wrong woman, Mei starts to wonder if all the secrets are truly worth it. Can she find a way to be herself, whoever that is, before her web of lies unravels?

Hi Gloria!!  We are so happy to welcome you to the FFBC!!


Favorite Book?

It’s so difficult to pick just one, but if I had to, I would go with THE SUN IS ALSO A STAR by Nicola Yoon. (And the Harry Potter books because it’s Harry Potter.)

Favorite TV show?

It’s so difficult to choose just one (I watch a lot of TV), but I would have to go with The Office, especially seasons 3-7.

Favorite movie?

While You Were Sleeping. My husband and I re-watch it every year during the holidays. It’s incredibly heartwarming and sweet, it takes place in Chicago where we live, and the family reminds us of ours.

Your Favorite Song?

Ohh this is so hard because it depends on my mood, but I’ll go with Here, There, and Everywhere because I walked down the aisle to it, and it brings me back to the happiest day of my life!

Favorite Food?

Dumplings! All kinds, but if I had to narrow it down, soup dumplings from Din Tai Fung.

Name 3 fictional places you would move to in a heartbeat.

Hogwarts, wherever the next Caraval is, Storybrooke.

What were your favorite books when you were growing up?

I loved The Baby-sitters Club when I was little. I brought them with me everywhere and they eventually became covered in food (which I would never let happen now).

Favorite Quote?

“If you can dream it you can do it.” –Walt Disney

What do you find yourself “Fangirling” over?

Awkwafina’s Tawk, Kerri Maniscalco’s STALKING JACK THE RIPPER series, Wonder Woman, the Ocean’s 8 trailer, soup dumplings, and Vosges’ Parisian hot chocolate (which I received as a gift from a dear friend when my second book sold).

What recent book would you recommend to our YA fans?

In no particular order: THE HATE U GIVE by Angie Thomas, YOU’LL MISS ME WHEN I’M GONE by Rachel Lynn Solomon, LOVE, HATE & OTHER FILTERS by Samira Ahmed, STARFISH by Akemi Dawn Bowman, NICE TRY, JANE SINNER by Lianne Oelke, STALKING JACK THE RIPPER series by Kerri Maniscalco, CARAVAL by Stephanie Garber, THEY BOTH DIE AT THE END by Adam Silvera.


Could you tell our Book Addicts a little bit about AMERICAN PANDA?

AMERICAN PANDA follows a seventeen-year-old MIT freshman whose traditional Taiwanese parents want her to become a doctor and marry a preapproved Taiwanese Ivy Leaguer despite her squeamishness with germs and crush on a Japanese classmate.

Can you tell us a little bit about Mei??  What are her faves, what would she wear to 
class, etc?

Mei is an awkward, honest nerd who loves to dance, hates germs, and doesn’t feel like she belongs in either of her cultures. Even though she doesn’t fit in, she isn’t afraid to own the pieces of herself she does know, like how she loves hot chocolate even though she worries it’ll make her look juvenile. She stands up for other students, having firsthand experience of what it feels like to be the pìgu of the joke, and she will protect them even at cost to herself. She favors comfort over beauty (despite what her mother tells her, that there are no ugly women, only lazy women), and in most of her classes, you can find her in her dance clothes or other comfortable sweats—anything that will allow her to break into a tombé, pas de bourrée at a moment’s notice.

How did you come up with the story? Did you find inspiration in any other story/movie/show and how has this affected your writing?

I wrote this book when I switched careers from dentist to writer and was having a hard time communicating with my parents. I wanted to write the book that I needed then and also the book I needed as a teen. 

In general, I do find inspiration in other media. When writer’s block hits, I like to read or watch something else, and it doesn’t have to relate to my book. The act of focusing on something else while subconsciously thinking about my manuscript has often helped me get over a writing hump. 

For writing humor, I watch TV comedies and stand-up to learn the right rhythm, timing, and wording to maximize laughs. Some of my favorites are The Office, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Ali Wong, and Jim Gaffigan.

Tell us your favorite quote from AMERICAN PANDA.

This is incredibly hard because I feel like all the quotes need set up to make sense, so I will go with my editor’s favorite line, which I think captures an important piece of the book:

Mom: “Mei, I want more for you than me. I always have.”

What 3 hashtags would you most associate with your book? (Could be a word or phrase or anything that would instantly make you think of AMERICAN PANDA.)

#ItsYourMuqin #EatYourVitamins #DontTakeYourPantsOffToFart (and anything with dumplings or hot chocolate or pandas!)

If you had to pick one song to be the Theme Song for AMERICAN PANDA – Which one would you pick? 

I Just Want to Be OK by Ingrid Michaelson

Are there any recommendations you could give your readers to be in the “perfect mood” to read AMERICAN PANDA (specific music, snacks…)? 

Hot chocolate! It’s the perfect reading companion, it’s important to the book (as I said before, Mei orders it with her crush even though she worries it’ll look juvenile), and it’s hot. chocolate. 

For food, I’d have to go with dumplings! Or dried squid, which is Mei’s favorite study snack.

And for music, Wang Leehom. I listened to his music while writing many scenes, and he even has a few mentions in the book!

What’s next for you? 

I’m currently drafting Misaligned, which will be out fall 2019 with Simon Pulse. The book follows a teen outcast who is swept up in a forbidden romance and down a rabbit hole of dark family secrets when another Asian family moves to her small, predominantly white Midwestern town. In this book, I explore race, identity, and the dangers of not communicating. 

Thank you so much, Gloria!!  We are SO excited about your debut book!!

Gloria Chao is an MIT grad turned dentist turned writer. AMERICAN PANDA is her debut novel, coming out February 6, 2018 from Simon Pulse/Simon & Schuster. 

Gloria currently lives in Chicago with her ever-supportive husband, for whom she became a nine-hole golfer (sometimes seven). She is always up for cooperative board games, Dance Dance Revolution, or soup dumplings. She was also once a black belt in kung-fu and a competitive dancer, but that side of her was drilled and suctioned out. 

Visit her tea-and-book-filled world at and find her on Twitter @gloriacchao.

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  1. Great interview! I loved American Panda, and I'm glad it's getting attention! Hot chocolate is perfect for this one. <3

  2. Fun interview. I got tears in my eyes thinking of Chao's favorite song. It's very beautiful.

  3. I loved reading this interview with Gloria! She's so sweet over social media, and I LOVED her book- it resonates with me now, but I can tell it also really would have resonated with me back in college too, especially when navigating my relationship with my parents.

  4. This one sounds great! It's definitely on my TBR. Also, love the interview! :)

  5. Planning to visit Adelaide soon? Check out the great photos of the Adelaide hotels panda love