[BLOG TOUR] A PHO LOVE STORY Interview With the One and Only, Loan Le!

Title: A Pho Love Story
Author: Loan Le
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
Genres: Young Adult romantic-comedy

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When Dimple Met Rishi meets Ugly Delicious in this funny, smart romantic comedy, in which two Vietnamese-American teens fall in love and must navigate their newfound relationship amid their families’ age-old feud about their competing, neighboring restaurants.

If Bao Nguyen had to describe himself, he’d say he was a rock. Steady and strong, but not particularly interesting. His grades are average, his social status unremarkable. He works at his parents’ pho restaurant, and even there, he is his parents’ fifth favorite employee. Not ideal.

If Linh Mai had to describe herself, she’d say she was a firecracker. Stable when unlit, but full of potential for joy and fire. She loves art and dreams pursuing a career in it. The only problem? Her parents rely on her in ways they’re not willing to admit, including working practically full-time at her family’s pho restaurant.

For years, the Mais and the Nguyens have been at odds, having owned competing, neighboring pho restaurants. Bao and Linh, who’ve avoided each other for most of their lives, both suspect that the feud stems from feelings much deeper than friendly competition.

But then a chance encounter brings Linh and Bao in the same vicinity despite their best efforts and sparks fly, leading them both to wonder what took so long for them to connect. But then, of course, they immediately remember.

Can Linh and Bao find love in the midst of feuding families and complicated histories?

I’ve been screaming about this book for so long, but I’m so happy to be sharing this author interview and blog tour with you! Huge thanks to The Coloured Pages Team for this opportunity, as well as Simon & Schuster for providing me with an advanced reader’s edition! If you are interested in reading my raving review for A PHO LOVE STORY, head over to this post!

Now, let’s jump into our interview with Loan!

Q: What prompted you to write this book? And how did you find inspiration?
I’m big on food and family. Sometimes I wonder if I love them because they play similar roles in my life: they comfort me, they’re there no matter what, and they’re imbued with history. Embedding these two things into my novel took little effort, but I can’t pinpoint the exact moment I knew they belonged together.

Q: What’s your favorite Vietnamese dish?
This is torture; I don’t have one favorite. I just can’t pick! I really enjoy cơm gà, phở (especially with beef), and my mom makes the best chả giò.

Q: How did the writing process compare to your work as an Editor? Was it easier, or more difficult?
Overall, I think it was easy to write as an editor. In the beginning, I was definitely self-editing, or over-editing, along the way, but once I got into the rhythm of writing, I let creativity take over. When you’re creating something out of nothing, your heart really needs to take the lead. (Not headfirst, but heart first–I had to tell myself that.) After I finished the full draft and stepped back to see the book from a bird’s eye view, I really tore apart my manuscript! That was so satisfying.

Q: Which authors inspire your writing the most?
Before writing this novel, I was focused solely on short stories. I’m deeply moved by Nam Le’s short stories. I enjoy Violet Kupersmith’s short stories because they involve ghosts and family, and I can’t wait for her full-length novel. I also love Jennifer Egan and Shirley Jackson.

Q: Do you have any tips/advice for aspiring writers?
I always tell my writers to collect those rejections early. You’ll toughen up eventually. And perhaps you’ll get rejections that grow nicer along the way. Progress! Find a craft book that’s your friend. Some books are outdated and some are just not right for you. But when you find the right craft book, you’ll learn so much.

Reach out to other writers. It gets lonely sometimes.

Loan Le is the youngest child of two Vietnamese immigrants hailing from Nha Trang. She holds an MFA degree in fiction from Fairfield University, also her undergraduate alma mater. A Pushcart Prize–nominated writer, her short stories have appeared in CRAFT Literary, Mud Season Review, and Angel City Review. Loan is an editor at Simon and Schuster’s Atria Books imprint and lives in Manhattan. A Pho Love Story is her first novel.

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