Author Talk with Lisa Ko

Cover of The Leavers, a novel by Lisa Ko.

During the last academy of the year, Friday, May 19th, Lisa Ko, author of The Leavers, answered questions from students about her book along with her writing as a whole. Students had finished reading the novel in Mrs. Henson’s English 2 class, and it was a unique experience to be able to talk with the author live.

The Leavers examines the life of an immigrant boy named Daniel and his mother Polly where they try to navigate through a new and cruel world. The novel is told from multiple perspectives, which allows for readers to examine the immigrant experience and the meaning of family from many entry points.

Through the call, Ko gave great insight into her writing process and along with how she wrote The Leavers.

The book took 7 years to write, including multiple drafts along with alternate endings. Additionally she did extensive research for the book: reading books, getting interviews, watching interviews and even going to Polly’s home city, Minjiang, to craft an accurate representation of that setting.

She also talked about how she goes about her writing. When she writes, all the previous draft material that isn’t being used isn’t considered to be garbage but is “compost” as it is still something that can be referenced to craft into new writing.

Ko explained the importance of collaboration when it comes to writing as it not only provides a different perspective but also pushes her as a writer.

With this, some of the students gained a better understanding of the novel but also a new perspective on how to write better. Sophomore Alex Rothey said, “She’s explained how when she is passionate about something she writes wrong. So I feel like if I write about something in my life that I’m passionate about, that could produce the best kind of writing.”

Overall the call was a success, allowing for students to have a deeper understanding and connection to their work.