Hello friends and welcome to Color the Shelves!
Today I’m joined by Suzanne Park, author of not only one but TWO books that coming out in 2020. The first one is THE PERFECT ESCAPE, which is a YA contemporary that’s already out, and the second one is LOATHE AT FIRST SIGHT, coming out in this 18th of this month. And for this interview today we’re going to be chatting about the latter! LOATHE AT FIRST SIGHT is a cute and geeky office romance where the main character gets roped into making this ridiculous video games concept she was pitching as a joke and also…possibly falls in love with the new intern at her job? Let us see what the author has to say about the book!
Hi Suzanne, thank you so much for joining me today on Color the Shelves! To kick things off, please tell us a little bit about your book, what’s LOATHE AT FIRST SIGHT about?
Thanks for having me! LOATHE AT FIRST SIGHT is an #OwnVoices workplace romcom set in the video game industry. In this novel, Korean-American producer named Melody Joo is tasked with launching a controversial video game while being antagonized by everyone around her, especially Nolan MacKenzie, the company’s new MBA intern. I grew up watching romantic comedies from the 90s and early 00s (is that 2000s?) and was heavily influenced by them as I developed and wrote this novel. There’s definitely an emphasis on “com” as well as “rom.”
Aside from being a romance, this book tackles toxic masculinity as well as sexism in the workplace, especially in STEM environments. Why was that such an important topic for you to explore?
When I began researching this book four years ago, it was instantly clear to me that the gaming industry was not fun and games for women, especially for women of color. Sexual harassment and racism was (and is) pervasive and rampant. Wrongdoings in this industry surfaced publicly in 2012 and 2014 and even after the Gamergate scandal that tore through the game world in 2014, not much changed for women in gaming.
But just two weeks ago, a wave of sexual harassment accusations swept across the industry again, and it came from every level of the video games industry. It can’t be ignored this time.
Some of the situations in my novel are based on my own experiences working at tech companies, and some are based on research including game company employees. But you don’t have to work in gaming/tech to relate to this book. I’ve heard from early readers who are lawyers, advertising copywriters, and people in higher-ed tell me they can relate to the scenarios and co-workers described in the book. When someone takes credit for your idea, or when you’re assigned a project that should be someone else’s job, so you’re doing twice as much work (ugh I HATE THAT)— those are relatable to anyone even outside of STEM.
Most of what you’ll read in Loathe At First Sight is absurd and humorous, but there are some cringe-worthy and very serious parts as well that were important to my story. I don’t shy away from the macro- and microaggressions, racism, sexism, and harassment prevalent in the game world. Publishers Weekly said that I wrote a novel from a female game producer’s perspective that makes “tough topics go down easy by couching them in wry humor,” so I hope I was successful in providing a balance of seriousness with comedy.
What are the top three dates that Melody and Nolan might go on but that you weren’t able to include in the book?
Since they’re in Seattle, I think they’d go get fresh, sugary mini-donuts from Pike Place Market and each get their own bags (no sharing). Melody isn’t much of an exercise person but Nolan would probably talk her into walking around Greenlake. Just once though. And they’d for sure go try out new coffee shops, even though she’d be fine with making some at home because it would be cheaper.
If LOATHE AT FIRST SIGHT were to have a soundtrack, what songs would be on it?
Melody’s character would pick music based on what the situation, so when she needs upbeat music to drown out her annoying office mate: RAIN ON ME on repeat, but also mixed in with BlackPink and Lizzo on shuffle.
And last but not least, what’s something you’d like to tell your readers or something you’d like them to take away from the story?
I’d love for readers to know it’s more of a typical rom-com you’d see in the movie sense. Also, because of this, there aren’t many #ownvoices comp titles out to compare it to, to be honest. Because Melody is a POC, she has a character arc that would be different from a white female game producer’s journey. There’s a hate-to-love relationship in this story, but the title works on other levels, too: Melody is surrounded by vocal naysayers, at her company and online. But don’t worry, she’ll do just fine.
About the author
Suzanne Park is a Korean-American writer who was born and raised in Tennessee.
In her former life as a stand up comedian, Suzanne was a finalist in the Oxygen Network’s “Girls Behaving Badly” talent search, and appeared on BET’s “Coming to the Stage.” She found this to be the funniest thing in her comedy career because, well, she is not black. She was also the winner of the Seattle Sierra Mist Comedy Competition, and was a semi-finalist in NBC’s “Stand Up For Diversity” showcase in San Francisco.
Suzanne graduated from Columbia University and received an MBA Degree from UCLA. She was selected for PitchWars and is represented by Brent Taylor of Triada US Literary Agency. She currently resides in Los Angeles with her husband, female offspring, and a sneaky rat that creeps around on her back patio. In her spare time, she procrastinates. Her YA romantic comedy debut, THE PERFECT ESCAPE, releases April 7, 2020 and her adult romcom LOATHE AT FIRST SIGHT comes out August 4, 2020.
About the book
Publication date : August 18th, 2020
Publisher : Avon Books| Harpercollins
Genre : Adult | Romance
Page Count: 368
Synopsis :Melody Joo is thrilled to land her dream job as a video game producer, but her new position comes with its share of challenges. Namely, an insufferable CEO and a team that consists of mostly male co-workers who make the term “misogyny” pale in comparison to their obnoxious comments. Then there’s the infuriating—yet distractingly handsome—MBA intern Nolan MacKenzie, a.k.a. “the guy who got hired because his uncle is the boss”.
Just when Melody thinks she’s made the worst career move of her life, her luck changes on a dime. While joking with a friend, she creates a mobile game that has male strippers fighting for survival in a post-apocalyptic world. Suddenly, Melody’s “joke” is her studio’s most high-profile project—and Melody’s running the show.
When Nolan is appointed a key member of her team, Melody’s sure he’ll be useless. But as they grow closer, she sees he’s smart and sexy, which makes Melody want to forget he’s her intern. As their attraction deepens, she knows it’s time to pump the brakes even with her Korean parents breathing down her neck to hurry up and find a man. But she’s here to work—and nothing more. All she has to do is resist the wild thoughts coursing through her mind whenever Nolan is near. Easy . . . or so she thinks.
With her pet project about to launch, Melody suddenly faces a slew of complications, including a social media trolling scandal that could end her career. She suspects one of her co-workers is behind the sabotage and is determined to find out who betrayed her. Could the man she’s falling hard for help her play the game to win—in work and love?
That’s it until next time.
Hope you enjoyed, write to you soon.