Debut Author Bash ~ Interview with Stacey Lee + A Giveaway

I'm so pleased to join the 2015 Debut Authors Bash hosted by YA Reads. I had the privilege of interviewing the remarkable and incomparable Stacey Lee! Her debut, Under a Painted Sky, was exceptional, (you can read my thoughts here) and I'm so excited to read her next book, Outrun the Moon.

Interview with  Stacey Lee

1. Describe "Under A Painted Sky" in 5 words.

Oh man, that’s hard! Okay: 1849, Chinagirl and slave flee.

2. When did you realize you wanted to become a writer? How long did it take you to write "Under A Painted Sky?"

I’ve been writing since I could hold a pencil! It took me six months to get out the first draft of UAPS, but as my sister says, it actually took me forty (something) years. The craft takes time to master, and I have many miles to go.

3. "Under A Painted Sky" takes place during the time of the Gold Rush when lots of people were migrating out West. Do you think you would survive the journey?

No! I’d get too cold, and I’ve gotten to use to my creature comforts like, you know, my bed.

4. Friendship is a huge theme of "Under a Painted Sky." What messages regarding friendship do you hope readers will take away from your novel?

A true friend can get you through the tough times. A true friend is like family.

5. What books would you recommend to others who enjoyed "Under a Painted Sky?"

I consider my work done if I’ve told you a story that so involves you, you don’t want to leave that world. Rather than giving you a similar title, I’d just share the books that have enthralled me; I Am the Messenger by Markus Zusak, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie, and Grave Mercy by Robin Lafevers, Kira-Kira, by Cynthia Kadohata.

6. What writing project(s) are you currently working on?

I am wrapping up edits for a third book called Catch a Falling Heart, a contemporary YA about a girl with an extraordinary nose who accidentally fixes the mother of the soccer star with the wrong love potion, and must race to fix her mistake before her mother finds out. A different change of pace from Chinese cowgirls, but extremely enjoyable to write.

7. "Under a Painted Sky" and "Outrun the Moon" are both historical fiction. What type of research did you do for your novels? Why did you decide to write historical fiction?

I started at the library. I read books, studied old maps, then went on field trips. In the case of UAPS, I visited a working cowboy ranch, a stagecoach maker, hiked parts of the Emigrant Trail, and talked to Park Rangers. For OTM, I took several trips to San Francisco, in particular the Golden Gate Park, where much of the novel takes place. I also spent time at historical museums, including the Museum of Chinese Americans in NYC, and the Chinese Historical Society in San Francisco.

8. What has been your favorite part of debuting this year?

Definitely meeting people, from fellow writers, to bloggers, librarians, teachers, and especially, readers. I’ve met people from all walks of life, people whose paths I would probably not cross in my every day mundane existence!

9. I understand you're part of the We Need Diverse Books campaign. In your opinion why is diversity so important?

Every child deserves a story. America is nearly 40% diverse, but you wouldn’t know it looking at our bookshelves.

10. What diverse books would you recommend to readers?

Anything by Sherri L. Smith, Matt de la Pena, Francisco Stork,, and Linda Sue Park. Also, I recently enjoyed fellow debut Nicola Yoon’s Everything Everything, Anna-Marie McLemore’s The Weight of Feathers, and Valynne Maetani’s Ink and Ashes!

11. What are some upcoming books you can't wait to read?

My TBR pile is about a mile long. I’m dying to read Karen Bao’s Dove Rising, as well as Julie Eshbaugh’s Ivory and Bone.

About  Stacey Lee:

Stacey Lee is a fourth generation Chinese-American whose people came to California during the heydays of the cowboys. She believes she still has a bit of cowboy dust in her soul. A native of southern California, she graduated from UCLA then got her law degree at UC Davis King Hall. After practicing law in the Silicon Valley for several years, she finally took up the pen because she wanted the perks of being able to nap during the day, and it was easier than moving to Spain. She plays classical piano, raises children, and writes YA fiction.

Website | Goodreads | Twitter | Tumblr | Facebook | Pinterest

About Her Debut Novel:

Missouri, 1849: Samantha dreams of moving back to New York to be a professional musician—not an easy thing if you’re a girl, and harder still if you’re Chinese. But a tragic accident dashes any hopes of fulfilling her dream, and instead, leaves her fearing for her life. With the help of a runaway slave named Annamae, Samantha flees town for the unknown frontier. But life on the Oregon Trail is unsafe for two girls, so they disguise themselves as Sammy and Andy, two boys headed for the California gold rush. Sammy and Andy forge a powerful bond as they each search for a link to their past, and struggle to avoid any unwanted attention. But when they cross paths with a band of cowboys, the light-hearted troupe turn out to be unexpected allies. With the law closing in on them and new setbacks coming each day, the girls quickly learn that there are not many places to hide on the open trail.

This beautifully written debut is an exciting adventure and heart-wrenching survival tale. But above all else, it’s a story about perseverance and trust that will restore your faith in the power of friendship.

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble


Stacey is kindly offering a finished copy of Under a Painted Sky to one lucky international winner. Good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Rachel is a teenaged unapologetic fangirl and perfectionist.

She loves reading for the escape it gives from reality and enjoys crying over books, swooning over characters, and laughing out loud over funny lines. She is a semi-recovering Netflix addict and a middle child of three.

You can find her on Twitter @yaperfectionist & Goodreads.


  1. I cannot wait to read UAPS this month! I have it as part of the Diverse December challenge/initiative!
    Fantastic interview Rachel! I'm very intrigued about Outrun the Moon because San Francisco is one of my fave cities!

  2. Great interview! I still need to read this book. It sounds so good. :D

  3. I haven't read UAPS yet, but I have heard nothing but wonderful things about it!!

  4. Omg this is on my wishlist and I'm even MORE excited for it now! *flails wildly* I loooove books about friendship and I just finished Walk on Earth a Stranger which is about the Gold Rush too so eeep! I definitely love that topic. x) I can't wait to read this, and loved the interview and the questions!!

  5. Great interview Rachel! I loved UAPS! I can't wait to read Out Run the Moon too!!

  6. I loved Under A Painted Sky. Such a fantastic read. I can't wait to read Outrun the Moon and the new book she is working on sounds really interesting. Great interview!
    Cassi @ My Thoughts Literally

  7. I absolutely can't wait to read UAPS because there are far too few diverse novels and even less diverse historical novels (that I heard of). Your amazing interview with the author made me even more curious for the novel.
    Ooh, so excited for this!!
    Also, thanks a lot for the giveaway. <3

  8. I haven't read UAPS but read few months ago a book that talked a little about the Gold Rush and it interested me. So a YA one with diverse MC during this period would be a nice change of my usual YA SF or fantasy reading.

  9. Great interview! I read UAPS earlier this year and loved it. I'll have to check out some of her other recommendations now. Thanks for the giveaway!

  10. OOOOH, I haven't read this book, but it sounds pretty amazing! :D I cannot wait to give it a try hehe.

  11. I haven't read Under A Painted Sky, but it looks excellent. Plus, the cover is so pretty! Thanks for the interview and for hosting Stacey Lee :)


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