Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Bits 'n Pieces - Justina Chen Headley

Justina Chen Headley is the author of three YA novels: Nothing But The Truth And A Few White Lies, Girl, Overboard, and her newest book, North of Beautiful. I have a copy of North of Beautiful sitting on my shelves begging to be read, and based on all the fantastic reviews it's been getting I've been very stupid to wait this long to read it. You can visit Justina's website here to get to know more about her and her books. Enjoy the interview!

This or that:
Rain or shine?
iPod or mp3 player?
Movies or TV?
MOVIES! We are a Netflix family.
City or country?
I am abode-ambidextrous. I rejuvenate in the solitude and peacefulness of the country, but the city feeds my creativity.
Mountains or beaches?
Both. I need both in equal quantities.
Dots or stripes?
Dogs or cats?
Cooking or eating out?
Eating out. (Check out my cooking debacles on my blog at I wish I could cook, but to my children’s everlasting sorrow, I cannot. (But I can bake! Unfortunately, one does not feed brain cells via cookies.)
Coffee or tea?
Tea. Dragonwell tea, to be exact.
Books or magazines?
Need you ask? Books, of course!

The Phantom Tollbooth
Book store-
My favorite until it went out of business this year was Chauni Haslet’s All for Kids Books. Now, I love my local Barnes & Noble because of its Community Relations Manager, Brenda Gurung, who is the personification of goodness.
Before Sunrise and Before Sunset. Yes, yes, and more yes.
Music artist-
Bono (yup, great voice, incredible mission, ever hip and relevant)
Coffee chain- 
Guilty pleasure- 
pinot noir (specifically, my brother’s vineyard: Patton Valley)
There are too many to count, but I must confess to a serious fondness for sushi.

Have you ever:
Lived abroad? 
Yes! I just moved back from Shanghai, China, and spent a year in Sydney, Australia.
Gotten a tattoo? 
Just henna. I love getting henna tattoos as my ritual to welcome summer.
Stayed up for the midnight release of a movie or book? 
Yes…Harry Potter.
Disliked your job? 
Oh, yes. Pulling off stickers on cosmetics boxes was a definite low.
Cried during a movie? 
And during commercials.
Sang karaoke? 
Yup—badly in Tokyo.

If you were on a desert island, what 5 things would you bring with you?
A stack of fabulous, blank notebooks and sparkly gel pens (sorry, those are a unit deal).
A cooler filled with fruit, veggies, crackers, peanut butter, and vino.
A man who could win Survivor but is too nice to be cutthroat and who was willing to build me shelter and do my bidding.
And a way home.
What’s on the list of things you have to do during your life?
Keep writing novels that matter.
Guide my children so that they fulfill their potential and are happy with themselves.
Shower my family with love.
Build lifelong friendships.
Continue expanding my world through books and travel and classes.
Live with zest and curiosity, untouched by bitterness and regret.
If you could have one super power what would it be?
The ability to create an impenetrable force field to keep the ones I love safe.
What’s your perfect music playlist?
Anything that fills me with happiness and makes me want to dance.
What’s the one food you could eat day after day and not get sick of?
Sushi. Hamachi, to be exact.
If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?
Right at this moment, all I want is the Big Island.
But I’d love to take my kids on an epic journey to Bhutan. And Greece.
What moment in history do you wish you could’ve experienced?
Right now. I am so blissed out that we are living history with our new president. This is an awesome moment.
What does your dream library look like?
A circular room with floor to ceiling built-in bookshelves which you can reach with a mobile ladder. The entire room is anchored with a lovely fireplace. There are cozy chairs and ottomans, throw blankets, and tables to rest mugs of tea and hot chocolate. The shelves are filled with books—all autographed and first edition, of course—and there is an entire wall dedicated to my friends’ works. There might be a skylight where the sun would warm the room in the day, and the stars would twinkle overhead at night.
When you walk into a bookstore, where do you head first?
The Teen Section. Where else is there to go?
If everyone had to read one book, what would you have it be?
I would love it if Bill and Melinda Gates wrote a book about philanthropy, inspiring everyday people to take up community service. The book would kick off with a foreword by Bono (and each book would include a CD with a song that Bono wrote to activate people to help the world in an unpreachy but compelling way).
Not to be too pushy, but here’s the content I want.
I want an overview of Bill and Melinda’s philosophy of giving: what calls them to action and why. I want chapters about how they make their decisions about where to give—especially since there are so many problems in the world to solve. How they determine the amount to allocate. How they quantify the results and determine whether their gift made a difference. How they integrate their children into their mission to make the world better.
I want a how-to guide for regular people to do the same. (This can either be a companion book by Bill Drayton or three or so chapters in Bill and Melinda’s book of goodness.)
Then (I know, I know, I do tend to think big, but why not when we have a world to change): I want Oprah to partner with the Gates and create a distinct fund for families to make a difference together. This would be kicked off on a special New Year’s Day show with footage of Bill and Melinda showcasing some of their work around the world—in libraries here at home and abroad in Africa. Then Oprah would show the Best of her Angel Network—a montage of real people doing real good. And then…President Obama and the First Lady would end the show with their call to action for Americans to do what we have always done, what is at the core of our country: to reach out generously and help those who need our help.
That book must be written. This global challenge needs to be issued. And the time for it is now.
That was the BEST last answer ever. Seriously. Thank you so much Justina!


  1. Yay, Justina! I love her writing, and I LOVE the questions you ask, Liv! You have the best ones!

  2. AH! I love love love North of Beautiful! Fantastic interview, Liv & Justina!

  3. Thanks so much for hosting me here, Liv. I agree with everyone--your questions inspired the answers.

  4. Great interview! I loved it. I can't wait to read North of Beautiful! It should be arriving sometime today! :D

  5. Great interview, Liv - thanks very much for sharing. Loved! North of Beautiful!

    (And thanks to Justina for her inspiring, generous words.)


Pour your heart out. :)