The B&N Podcast: Mary H.K. Choi on Fame, Authenticity, and Growing Up Now

Every author has a story beyond the one that they put down on paper. The Barnes & Noble Podcast goes between the lines with today’s most interesting writers, exploring what inspires them, what confounds them, and what they were thinking when they wrote the books we’re talking about.

Today’s episode is a conversation with New York Times bestselling author Mary H.K. Choi, who in two razor sharp novels — 2018’s Emergency Contact and her brand-new Permanent Record — captures the lives, anxieties and loves of young people crossing that fraught and fractured border between teen life and the big world of adulthood. Her novels are shelved in that increasingly varied category we call “YA fiction,” but as a culture journalist with credits that range from the New York Times and the Atlantic to Wired and HBO’s Vice News Tonight, Choi infuses her stories with wit, pathos, and a sensibility that speaks to the anxieties and possibilities that come with life in an electronically mediated world — and that combination has brought her devoted readers across generations. Mary H.K. Choi joined B&N’s Miwa Messer in the studio to talk about the obsessions that drive her fiction, and Permanent Record‘s story of 21st century love meeting 21st century fame.

From the New York Times bestselling author of Emergency Contact, which Rainbow Rowell called “smart and funny,” comes an unforgettable new romance about how social media influences relationships every day.

On paper, college dropout Pablo Rind doesn’t have a whole lot going for him. His graveyard shift at a twenty-four-hour deli in Brooklyn is a struggle. Plus, he’s up to his eyeballs in credit card debt. Never mind the state of his student loans.

Pop juggernaut Leanna Smart has enough social media followers to populate whole continents. The brand is unstoppable. She graduated from child stardom to become an international icon and her adult life is a queasy blur of private planes, step-and-repeats, aspirational hotel rooms, and strangers screaming for her just to notice them.

When Leanna and Pablo meet at 5:00 a.m. at the bodega in the dead of winter it’s absurd to think they’d be A Thing. But as they discover who they are, who they want to be, and how to defy the deafening expectations of everyone else, Lee and Pab turn to each other. Which, of course, is when things get properly complicated.

See more by Mary H.K. Choi

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