March 3, 2020
Nya Jade is the author of “The Year of Four”, a fantasy novel that follows the life of Phoebe Pope, a shapeshifting teenage girl who is training to become a spy.
Q: Who/what inspired you to become a writer?
A: I’ve always written in some form or another. I started as a singer-songwriter and loved sharing stories through music and lyrics. Then one day I decided to try my hand at writing novels. Although I experienced a learning curve moving from three minute songs to three hundred page books, I loved the challenge. I drew inspiration from all the authors I’ve enjoyed reading over the years.
Q: How has writing and being part of this community impacted you?
A: The writing community is wonderful. I love attending conferences and being in the company of other writers. I get to tap into a deep well of creative energy. And there’s something magical about having an idea and getting to see it live in the pages of a book. I’m filled with gratitude for every interaction I have with readers. It’s always great fun to hear a reader’s perspective on my world and the characters that inhabit it. I find that I learn from it.
Q: What was the greatest challenge you faced in your career and how did you overcome it?
A: For awhile, I convinced myself that I couldn’t write a sequel to my first book—that I’d run out of ideas. I managed to overcome it by thinking of the book as a new standalone. This actually worked! It released the pressure I’d put on myself to top the previous book. Instead, I enjoyed the process of writing a new adventure that happened to star characters in a world I already knew. Feels like I tricked myself into getting it done.
Q: Who is your favorite writer at the moment and why?
A: Pakistani-American author Sabaa Tahir! I’m in love with her “An Ember in the Ashes” series. It was my first exposure to supernatural characters such as the jinn (as well as other creatures) she pulled from her background. It all made for a wonderful new world. I raced through “An Ember in the Ashes” and had to take my time with “A Torch Against the Night”, which was a much more intense read. I have yet to start the third installment but cannot wait to see what happens next.
Q: What do you hope to bring to the Los Altos community by participating in Writer’s Week?
A: I hope I bring a sense of enthusiasm for all things writing! I’m such a big fan of storytelling and believe that we all have stories within us that can be shared. So I want to be a source of encouragement and support for anyone who wants to pursue this path.
Q: If you could recommend one book to Los Altos students, what would it be?
A: The Alchemist by Brazilian author Paulo Coelho. I read it many years ago as a student at Stanford and it’s stayed with me. I love the idea of each of us having a “Personal Legend”—something we want to accomplish. And how the world around us shapes our path toward getting there. I thought Coelho did a great job of using his character Santiago’s journey of following signs to illustrate this point.
Q: What is the best writing advice anyone has given you?
A: “Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken.” This quote is attributed to Oscar Wilde. Whether or not he meant it for authors, I’ve taken it as a great piece of writing advice. As an author you can only write with your own authentic voice. It’s easy to want to imitate [insert famous author here], but at the end of the day, it’s not you. They say there are no new stories/plots out there, only new ways to write them. So I hope to always write in a way that’s true to me.