Stacey Lee Stops By to Answer Some Questions
From a deleted scene to the inspiration behind the book, Stacey Lee delivers
Sep 8, 2021
What made you decide to write this as a YA book? I thought it was brilliant to do so in writing about a topic not in current school curriculums (at least not here in Georgia). —Lindsey G.
Thank you! So much of Jo’s journey is her coming to understand the impact she can have on the world, and so it made sense to me that she would be a young adult who is in the process of developing her voice.
Do any of your personal life experiences parallel the book? —Leah K.
Hats. I’ve always loved wearing hats and in middle school, I would wear them often. I had to give them up in high school as I attended an all-girls Catholic high school which had a strict uniform code!
How did you come up with the idea of writing about an Asian girl living in the South? Was there a specific experience in your life that inspired you? —E.B.
I’d always wanted to write a story set in the South, as that part of the country has always fascinated me. There are so many interesting facets of Southern life to explore, especially the contrast between a ‘genteel’ society that still tolerated slavery.
Do you have any deleted scenes you could share? —Diana P.
In the horse race scene at Piedmont Park, before Jo reports in for the race, she encounters Nathan and they have this exchange:
Nathan glances toward the stables. “I guess I am a little worried. I mean, Sweet Potato is a fine horse, but she is smaller than the rest, especially Sunday Surprise and Thief—those two are locomotives. In fact, if you have any second thoughts, no one would blame you for pulling out; it happens all the time in horseracing. Horses get injured, or sick—”
“Sweet Potato is neither,” I say.
The resolute line of Nathan’s jaw has begun to waver. He runs a hand through his hair, making it stick it up on one side. Sweet Nathan. I’ve unsettled him yet again.
“There are lots of things we could do,” he says. “There’s a good spot to watch the swallows building their nests, or we could go for a Coca—”
I step up on the toes of my violin boots, and before I can stop myself, drop the pearl in the purse of his lips. The only one more surprised than me is him. Dear Atlanta, Miss Sweetie has crossed the line now! But surely today is the day for crossing lines, and the gentleman does not say ‘neigh.’
Will there be a sequel to this book? I’d love to learn more about what happens next for Jo. —Lindsey G.
I get this question a lot, and it makes me happy to know the readers connected with the characters. I never say never. It would be fun to return to 1890, Atlanta! Loving all the descriptions of Atlanta!
What made you choose that city as your Southern setting and are there any nods to current landmarks? I keep trying to see if Jo goes anywhere I can recognize! —Kate G.
The artesian water well at Five Points where Noemi and Jo pass on the way to see Billy Riggs is now the site of the Five Points Monument to commemorate this historic intersection (Peachtree St NW at Marietta St NW). Piedmont Park still stands, though the racetrack is gone. And of course, historic Peachtree Street is still a main thoroughfare through Atlanta with even a few of the old mansions still standing.
Who was your inspiration for Bear? I love her! —Amy A.
Bear is the dog I never had! I envisioned her to be a reflection of Nathan’s inner self, loyal, lovable, principled.
What is your favorite book? —Korin Z.
Bloody Jack, by L.A. Meyer.