Author Suzanne Parks talks about her hilarious and heartwarming second-chance romance, 'The Do Over!'
By Meredith Lavergne
Suzanne Park's comedic novel 'The Do Over' serves as the subject of this Likewise Q&A.
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A decade after crossing the stage at her college graduation, Lily must return to college to relive her senior year after discovering she’s a few credits shy of completing her degree-only to find one of her TAs is her old college boyfriend. Publishers Weekly calls The Do Over, “a winner… Park’s pitch-perfect comedic timing and knack for creating heartstring-tugging moments make this thoughtful romance really shine.”
Former comedian and bestselling author of So We Meet Again, Suzanne Park is known for her hilarious and heartwarming romances with unforgettable Korean-American characters. To celebrate the release of her new book, we spoke to Suzanne about her inspiration.
Likewise: There are a lot of second-chance romances coming out right now, but Lily's story is as much a second-chance at college story as it is a romance. What inspired the back-to-school plot?
Suzanne Park: For years I’ve had a common school anxiety dream in which I need to take a final exam for a class I’ve never attended. Early in the pandemic, this recurring nightmare disrupted my sleep so badly that I began to journal everything I was feeling to get it out of my head and onto paper.
SP (cont'd): One day I wondered, "What if I write a book about this? Surely this is something others can relate to," and that’s when I pitched the idea to my editor. When I started writing the book, I wanted to make the setting feel authentic so, with the help of a university admin friend, I visited a local college campus while school was in session to capture what being in college is like now.
LW: Before you became a novelist, you were a stand-up comedian! How does your comedy career influence your writing?
SP: My adult and YA fiction includes both observational and absurd humor, similar to what I had in my stand-up comedy acts. I’ve found that for both stand-up comedy and writing humorous novels that context, specificity and timing can be just as important as word and phrasing choices. For me, the biggest difference between writing jokes for stand-up and putting comedy in books is that with stage comedy, you can use physical humor to help convey a joke, but on page, you only have your words, so that was an adjustment for me.
LW: There are a lot of fun secondary characters in The Do-Over, from Lily's best friend Mia to her hyper-positive roommate Beth. Do you have a favorite?
SP: What a tough choice! It would probably be between Mia and Beth—I love them both and they each bring different energy to their friend group. Beth’s optimism and excessive stress-baking is so funny and relatable, and Mia is a rough-around-the-edges friend you want in your corner when things get rough. Ali Hazelwood read the book and commented to me “Is Mia getting her book? Please tell me we'll see Lily and Jake again in Mia's book,” so I know Mia has a big fan!
LW: Tell us about three books that inspire you as a writer.
The Do Over by Suzanne Parks is out now!
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