Between Two Lockers: We get the dish from YA authors on their books, lives and secret crushes. See More...

Between Two Lockers with Malinda Lo

Malinda Lo stops by FYA to dish about her Adaptation series, as well as her love of The X-Files, whisky, and other tasty business.

Between Two Lockers with Malinda Lo

Last week, I reviewed Inheritance, the super satisfying conclusion of the Adaptation series. And no joke -- when I finished reading Inheritance, I instantly had to gush about it to its author, Malinda Lo, who also co-founded the incredible Diversity in YA, i.e. LOVE HER. Malinda graciously overlooked my fangirling stopped by FYA HQ to give us the scoop on her books, her YA self, and more!

Since Adaptation has been released, you've created a real for keeping track of conspiracy theories. You're also a huge X-Files fan, having written not one, but two grad papers about the show. What is it about conspiracy theories that appeals to you?

I loved The X-Files, it's true, but actually it wasn't the conspiracy theories that hooked me. It was, um, the romance. OK sure, the romance took like 8 years to pay off and it was really really really frustrating at some times, but I was a total sucker for the workplace banter and the chemistry that David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson had as Mulder and Scully. I was such a huge MSR shipper.

I also love mysteries, and The X-Files was really a mystery series. Every episode was about solving a particular mysterious question, and since I'm also a fan of fantasy, the paranormal twist was right up my alley. Ultimately, I feel like the conspiracy elements were kind of an accidental bonus. I've read a lot about conspiracies now, and I'm really intrigued by how they sort of get under the skin of reality — whatever that is — and shake things up. Sometimes the real world can be really boring, and conspiracy theories make stuff more interesting.

Plus, I kinda want to believe that aliens exist. Don't you? You don't think we're all alone in the universe do you? 


I loved the glimpses into [the alien] Imrian culture. How did you develop their language and customs?

The Imrian language is based on Ancient Sumerian. I wanted to use a dead language that mostly isn't recognizable in English, but also has been studied enough that there are dictionaries available. So all the Imrian words are taken from Sumerian terms that have meanings similar to the English meanings, but are twisted a little to make them slightly different from Sumerian.

Imrian customs don't show up much in Inheritance, but Natural Selection (an ebook novella about Amber Gray) is all about one particular practice. That arose from my thinking about what people would be like if they lived for a really long time, and if they had the abilities the Imria had. Even within a human lifespan, I feel like people change so much. If we lived for twice or three times as long, how much more would we change? And how would we recognize those changes? Would that longer lifespan affect our relationships with other people? How could it not? Thinking through the answers to those questions helped me develop the Imrian culture.

I've just got to know: will there be a third Adaptation book!? A spin-off? A life-sized diorama? (I'm clearly desperate for anything.)

A diorama would be awesome! Ha. But at this point no, I have no plans for more Adaptation stories.

*Runs off to build aforementioned diorama*

Fantasy, sci-fi -- what genre are you going to conquer next? You've alluded to a few big projects that you've got going, including one that's been in the works for nearly a decade! Can you give us any hints about them?

Well, the stuff I'm working on now is very different from what I've written so far. All I can say is it's a big challenge for me, but I love a challenge!

Can't wait to get my grabby little hands on those books!

If your real life adolescence was a YA book...

What would you, the main character, be like?

The nerdy new girl who's obsessed with books and is one makeover away from being super hot.

That sounds like the love child of She's All That and Mean Girls, i.e. WANT. 

Who is your secret crush?

That girl with the alternative lifestyle haircut and studded belt who hangs out behind the bleachers smoking, and who usually wears beat-up black combat boots and boys' T-shirts.

The interviewer's artistic rendition of the secret crush.

What is your number #1 source of angst?


LOL. Er, I mean not LOL. Cheer up, Teen Malinda; things work out pretty well for you!

At what point would the reader pump his/her fist in victory?

75% of the way through the book I finally freaking get to kiss that girl.

And who would play you in the film adaptation?

Adrianne Ho. OK she's a model not an actor, but all models "act" right?

Let's hope that Adrianne can act as fierce as she looks!


What is your secret power?

Pie making.

BRB -- just invited myself over to your house, KTHX.

What is your #1 favorite food?

My mom's red-cooked beef stew. A close second is salted caramel ice cream.

Tell me about your area of expertise.

I'm a writer. I lie a lot. (I could be lying now!)

If you could assemble your own Ocean's 11 of fictional characters, who would you pick and why?

1 & 2.  Cassel Sharpe and Lila Zacharov from the Curse Workers trilogy by Holly Black.
3.  Mae Crawford from Sarah Rees Brennan's Demon's Lexicon series.
4 & 5.  Verity and Kittyhawk from Elizabeth Wein's Code Name Verity.
6.  Astrid from Diana Peterfreund's Rampant series.
7.  Jem Carstairs from Cassandra Clare's Infernal Devices trilogy.
8.  Boy from Jon Skovron's Man Made Boy.
9.  Jasper Dent from Barry Lyga's I Hunt Killers.
10.  Hermione Granger from you know where!
11.  Amber Gray from my Adaptation series.

DIZANG, that's quite a group of badasses!

What is your best karaoke song?

The one where I don't sing but buy everyone drinks at the bar.

Tell me something scandalous!

Once in a very long while I actually love a work of extremely slow-moving literary fiction about depressed adults.

What is your favorite adult beverage?


What book have you read (or movie you’ve watched) the most number of times?

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. Also, the Colin Firth BBC version.


Who is your “freebie”?

I have no idea what you mean. *whistles innocently*

YA authors are so cool. Who would you give a BFF charm to?

Cindy Pon my straight twin!

Out of all of the characters you’ve written, which one do you most wish you could be?

Kaede from Huntress.

If you were invited to the FYA slumber party (and obvs, you ARE), what is the most crucial snack food and/or movie you'd bring?

Whisky! (Obviously.) And salted caramel ice cream.

How about sea salted whisky caramel ice cream!?

And now it's time for MASH! Malinda provided the first three options, and the fourth was chosen for her. The magic number was 18. 


Justin Timberlake
Angelina Jolie
Rachel Maddow
Drusilla from Buffy

Antarctica (seriously I want to go there)
Iceland (also want to go there)
Mars (scifi MASH!)
Mars bar factory tour

19 kids and counting

Secret agent
Boy band agent

$1 million

$1 billion
$1 trillion
1 trillion sandwiches

San Francisco
The Moon
Transformers: Dark of the Moon

Black lab
Cob of corn

Malinda's actual dog!

Limousine with driver
A Tesla
A late-model sedan formerly used for surveillance
A late-model push cart formerly used for selling pretzels

Well, when Angie is your wife, obvi you'd have a lot of kids! Good thing that One Direction pays well, but have fun trying to fit the fam into the Tesla. 

Thanks for stopping by, Malinda! Check out her website, for find her on Twitter (@malindalo).

Mandy Wan's photo About the Author: Residing in Edmonton, AB, Mandy unabashedly loves YA lit, frozen desserts, and terrible puns.