1. Your novel, HELL'S GAME has an interesting premise, how did you come up with it?
I grew up in Coffeyville, Kansas, and I had always heard stories about the Gateway to Hell in Stull, Kansas. For years, I had been trying to write a story that could incorporate the Gateway and a prank gone wrong, and recently, I finally merged that idea with the idea of a bizarre, high-stakes game of nightmares.
2. The road to publication is always hard, how was your road?
My struggle to publication has definitely been a hard one! I have been writing books since I was in high school, and I remember how I would query agents and publishers only to receive rejection after rejection. I ended up taking a break from prose and focused instead on screenwriting, but the desire to publish a YA novel was still inside of me. I took another crack at writing a YA novel over two years ago, and that effort, CHOP SUEY, was met with the same response as my high school efforts—which was rejection! This time, however, I didn’t get discouraged, and I ended up writing HELL’S GAME. Overall, the process for me to get to where I am today took over a decade and it was filled with a lot of people telling me, “No” and me telling myself, “Don’t stop.”
3. Are there any characters in HELL'S GAME that you are close to or resemble you?
When I was growing up in Kansas, I encountered a lot of racism, and I was very uncomfortable in my own skin. I used a lot of my memories to write the Asian-American character Kristin, and her character’s insecurity reflected what I felt about myself when I was her age. What I love about Kristin is that she starts off as a meek follower who bottles up her emotions, but throughout the book, she releases her anger to find the strength within herself.
4. What books have you read lately that have kept you on your toes?
I loved The Hunger Games trilogy, and it really inspired me to write something with a lot of action and twists and turns.
5. Can you tell us five things about you that no one may know?
1) I’m a middle child.
2) When I was a teenager, I had braces and head gear. It was very embarrassing, but at least my teeth are straight now.
3) I have a M.F.A. in Screenwriting from the University of Southern California.
4) I have a cat named Paige Turner.
5) I was an intern for The Late Show with David Letterman when I was an undergraduate in college.
6. If you could describe HELL'S GAME in three words, what words would you choose?
Action-packed. Suspenseful. Scary.
Be sure to check out Teresa Lo's novel HELL'S GAME!