Interview with Coco Ma
Updated: Jan 23
Brief bio: Coco Ma is the author of the upcoming YA novel Shadow Frost. It is scheduled to be released October 1st, 2019.
Hi, Coco! I am pumped for Shadow Frost to come out - it comes out one day before my birthday too! I'm totally getting your book for my birthday!
OH MY GOD HAPPY EARLY BIRTHDAY! OH THAT'S AWESOMEEEEE!
Aww, thank you! Okay, so, to start this interview off I want to ask the basic question and go from there. When did you first realize you wanted to be an author?
I hope this doesn’t come off in the wrong way, haha! (Always a great way to start an interview.) In all honesty, I don’t think becoming a writer was ever really one of my goals. Writing was just something I realized I loved doing, so I just did it. Sure, I thought it would be cool to publish a book, but somehow it didn’t click that doing so would make me a writer.
This is going to sound incredibly ludicrous (another great way to respond in an interview), but even now it takes me a moment to reply when people ask, “So, you’re a writer?” It’s all sort of astonishing that I managed to produce an actual book full of … stuff. That I wrote. And that people are actually enjoying it so far! It’s an amazing feeling.
That's kind of hilarious. "Stuff," haha! So, if you weren't going out of your way to be an author, what inspired you to write you book?
A school project. So exciting, right? Every year we had to do something called an Independent Education Study, where we got to choose one big endeavor to complete over the course of a few months. I chose to write a collection of short stories, but my first short story kept getting longer and longer and then it somehow turned into a book! ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ (WhatEvenIsPacing)
Hey, whatever works! I remember the first time a story I tried to write got out of hand! For those that don't know much about your book, how do you represent diversity?
In Shadow Frost, my goal was to represent diversity in a multitude of different ways, not just in physical appearance or ethnicity, although of course that is important and I definitely tried to reflect that in my cast. The cast originates from a spread of various kingdoms—I created the world from scratch and tried to avoid matching it up to anything from our world, and that includes physical features. The characters come from different family situations, socioeconomic backgrounds, childhood experiences, etc.
Most of all, there is variation in magical ability. Some characters have an advantage over others (which rings true to reality, too), but I think each of them faces consequences and responsibilities proportional to the gravity of their choices and powers. None of their problems ever go away with a wave of their hand and a pretty spell or anything like that. I wanted to share a cast of characters that readers could look up to because of who they are as humans and the decisions they make, not solely their outer appearance.
So, yes, there are characters with different skin tones and eye colours, but I think the characters themselves as different humans lend much more to their diversity. They each have their own individual personalities, traits, and habits. They also share some commonalities, just like regular humans. They each have their own flaws and strengths, and different breaking points, not to mention ways of dealing with trauma. I hope that also sort of counts as diverse in a way, too!
In terms of physicality in the universe I created, there is definitely representation from every single of the nine kingdoms throughout the book, and from well over half of the nine in the main cast.
I definitely think it counts! Diversity comes in many different forms! Of the cast you mentioned, which character do you connect to most in your book?
I’m sure I’m not the only author who would say they connect to each of the characters on some level. But, a little unsurprisingly, I probably connect with Asterin, the main character, the most. For those lucky few that received eARCs (I say lucky because, no shame, I myself tried to discreetly request a copy and got rejected lmfao epic fail), I think you’ll agree with me when I say that Asterin sometimes screws up majorly. She’s ambitious, she’s unafraid to do the dirty work, but sometimes in spite of this, life just decides to take a poo on her and there’s not much else she can do about it. What else? Her favourite food is cake, which is based directly off myself. Also, she has a very difficult time impressing her mother. Ahem … *cough my own tiger mom who? cough cough*
So, what type of reaction are you hoping to get from readers?
I’ve gotten so much love and support so far and I couldn’t be more grateful! I obsessively check Goodreads for new comments all the time and I definitely have shed many tears of happiness already. I hope that my readers might be able to lose themselves in the story for a while, that it will make them smile/yell angstily at the book and wish for a sequel. Crying is probably too much to ask for … but don’t worry, a storm is coming! I mean, what? *winks*
Most importantly, though … as a teenager, I felt like some people didn’t take me seriously a lot of the time solely based on my age. I still face that. I guess I’m still technically a teenager. I think that many of us young people are overlooked despite talent or work ethic due to lack of experience. So my biggest hope is that I can inspire young people like myself to keep pushing themselves to greater heights and keep reaching for their aspirations, no matter what anyone else thinks or says about us.
That's really great. Younger people are the future, after all. What are three words you would use to describe your book? Besides diverse - no cheating!
Oh, gosh. What does cheating mean? Can I just steal words from quotes of people’s reviews? “Dazzling.” “Refreshing.” And … “ASDLF;FGLKJ … AMAZINGGG!” The last one is my favourite. Obviously.
I mean, if you're counting "ASDLF;FGLKJ" as a descriptor - which I totally would - that's technically four words. But I'll let it slide, haha! Okay, to kind of lead us out of this interview/Q&A, what's your favorite diverse book (so we have something to read while we wait for your book to come out)?
Six of Crows, hands down.
And that's the end! Thank you to Coco Ma for being so willing and helpful in answering all the questions I had. Not all of the answers were integrated into this piece, but all the answers were thoughtful and most of them were hilarious.
If you want to check out Coco Ma's Youtube channel, click HERE
If you want to check out Coco Ma's Twitter, click HERE
Look forward to more interviews from authors, editors, and the like soon!