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Excerpt from Cara Chow's 
Interview with Jill Mackenzie posted on
Whatcha' Reading Now?, One World Issue 14,
December 2011

Jill: Hello WRN readers! We’re so lucky to be able to chat with Cara Chow, whose book, Bitter Melon  has been nominated for Best YA Fiction by YALSA (the Young Adult Library Service Association.) Bitter Melon  is a daring novel about one girl’s journey to break free from her cultural restraints to become the person she wants to be. So Cara, thanks for joining us today. We’ll start off by asking you the number one question we ask all of our authors… whatcha reading now?


 Cara: Right now, I am reading Simplicity Parenting: Using the Extraordinary Power of Less to Raise Calmer, Happier, and More Secure Kids by Kim John Payne and Lisa Ross. This book was recommended to me by my son’s occupational therapist. I am also re-reading Chasing the Light: Improving Your Photography with Available Light, byIbarionex Perello. I am also reading my camera manual in order to apply some of the ideas from Perello’s book to my own photography.


Jill: Wow! Sounds like you’re a woman of many talents. And I like that you’re tapping into a bit of self-improvement there, too, which I think we all should do from time to time. Anything else that you just can’t put down?


Cara: Just so you don’t think that I don’t read fiction, the book I read before Chasing the Light was Stealing Angel by Terry Wolverton.


To read the entire post, please click here.


Excerpt from the article

"Does It Matter Where You Come From?"

by Rebecca Hill,

VOYA, volume 34, number 4, October 2011

Multicultural stories do not always have to be embedded in family history to be powerful or authentic. Stories of cultural dilemmas and difference can also be as revealing and significant as those told from firsthand accounts. They, too, can teach students about cultural barriers, norms, and differences. In Cara Chow's book,Bitter Melon, the issue of the Confucian value of filial piety, a strong guiding principle of Chinese society, comes to the forefront....


Excerpt from Cara Chow's 
Guest Post on GalleyCat
on March 29, 2011

GalleyCat caught up with young-adult novelist Cara Chow to talk about her book, Bitter Melon.  Here are some highlights from our interview.


Q: How did you find your agent?


A: Back in June 2008, I found Stephen [Barbara] on a website called My keyword searches were ‘Young Adult’ and ‘multicultural,’ and his name was one of over 200 that showed up on the list. The description of what he was interested in seemed to match what I had, so I sent him a query.


After reading my manuscript, Stephen wrote me a very nice letter telling me what he liked about my manuscript. He then went on to explain what was missing and asked if I would be interested in revising and resending it. I called him to get a better idea of what he had in mind. During our phone conversation, I felt strongly that he was ‘The One’ (I mean that in a professional way, of course). I felt a deep sense of trust in him and decided that he was worth another draft.


In April 2009, I sent him my new draft. He read it and asked me for another revision, which I did in two months. So in the end, I guess he was worth two drafts!


To read the entire post, please click here.


Excerpt from Cara Chow's 
Guest Post on
on February 11, 2011

Hello!  I’m quite excited today to welcome Cara Chow, author of Egmont USA‘s Bitter Melon, to Galleysmith to speak about how her novel came into existence.  Is it auto-biographical?  Is it a little bit of her life or is it a little bit of fiction?  Read on to find out:


Though Bitter Melon is a work of fiction, the number one question people ask me is “Is Frances you?”  Because Bitter Melon is a mother-daughter story, the unspoken question they are also asking is “Is Gracie your mother?”  Some are so attached to the idea that Frances could be me that they have even asked me if the girl on the book cover is a photo of me when I was a teen.  My response to that is, “No.  I was not that pretty.”

The question of whether Bitter Melon is autobiographical is difficult to answer because the answer is both yes and no.  Let me explain.


Excerpt from Cara Chow's 
Interview with
on February 1, 2011

On IML we often see comments and questions from tweens about parents who are super-strict, or pushing their kids really hard at school, or generally having sky-high expectations for everything, or even using hurtful words to express anger or disappointment. Sometimes, a person is dealing with all of these things at once, and that's a lot to handle. Really, a ton!

Sometimes one of the many factors in this kind of situation is a parent's ethnic background and culture. As we talk about a bit in our Immigration section, being from one country and raising your family in another can cause all sorts of fireworks.


We enjoyed a recent book called "Bitter Melon," by Cara Chow (Egmont USA). "Bitter Melon" is about Frances, a Chinese-American teenager whose one job in life is to get into Berkeley and become a doctor to fulfill her single mother's ambitions for her. She's going along with this until she accidentally discovers a speech class at school and turns out be a natural. While pursuing her new passion, Frances finds herself hiding things from her mother and questioning the way she's been raised. She knows she must be obedient to her mother but also craves the chance to live her own life.


We felt that many IML'ers could relate to Frances' story and enjoy the heartfelt, honest writing (we give it a rating of B+!), so we asked the author, who was born in Hong Kong and emigrated with her family to the U.S. as a child, to give us some behind-the-pages insight.


To read the entire interview, click here.


Excerpt from Cara Chow's 
 Interview with School Library Journal® 
on January 19, 2011

What struck me most after considering all the underlying themes in your book is the universality of parental pressure. I'm a white Catholic only girl middle child, and like Frances, I was also expected to get top grades, be in the National Honor Society, perform and compete in the high school marching band, and work. Do you see your story transcending "Asian genius child" stereotypes?


Absolutely! That is what I hoped for, and that is the response I am getting from readers. During my first conversation with my agent, he told me that he could relate to the book because he comes from an Italian immigrant family. My editor wrote me a very nice letter, in which she shared that she had a weakness for mother-daughter stories. I recently received a letter from a teen who connected with Frances because she has difficulties with her own mother. Among these three people, there is quite a spread in terms of gender, age, and ethnicity, and none of them is Asian. Though this is a Chinese-American story, it is primarily a mother-daughter story, so readers will connect with the parent-child theme and the issues of success and failure.


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