Finding more adoption representation is what I live for and so I’ve been so excited for The Jasmine Project. Being able to interview Meredith Ireland is a true joy. I’m so happy to share these interview questions for a book I love so dearly. Keep reading for this amazing interview.
The Jasmine Project
Jasmine Yap’s life is great. Well, it’s okay. She’s about to move in with her long-time boyfriend, Paul, before starting a nursing program at community college—all of which she mostly wants. But her stable world is turned upside down when she catches Paul cheating. To her giant, overprotective family, Paul’s loss is their golden ticket to showing Jasmine that she deserves much more. The only problem is, Jasmine refuses to meet anyone new.
But…what if the family set up a situation where she wouldn’t have to know? A secret Jasmine Project.
The plan is simple: use Jasmine’s graduation party as an opportunity for her to meet the most eligible teen bachelors in Orlando. There’s no pressure for Jasmine to choose anyone, of course, but the family hopes their meticulously curated choices will show Jasmine how she should be treated. And maybe one will win her heart.
But with the family fighting for their favorites, bachelors going rogue, and Paul wanting her back, the Jasmine Project may not end in love but total, heartbreaking disaster.
How did the side characters come alive for you? Did any of them change through drafting?
My editor had suggested Jasmine have a big family and I was totally game. I wanted to write characters that reflect the world around us—both in race and sexual orientation. The trick was to have large personalities with small roles because it was such a large cast. Jasmine having two close friends who are different from her was a goal of mine. I’d originally included more on June’s family upbringing and Emily’s parents’ divorce, but there simply wasn’t the space for it without detracting from the narrative. Everyone else just kind of came to me, almost as written, especially her bickering cousins.
What advice would you give to yourself?
So advice… I think it’s appreciate how far you’ve come. I had a moment the other night where I got an absolutely amazing review and then got upset that it wasn’t a star (starred reviews affect marketing) until I thought: are you seriously upset about a glowing review that said zero negative to even your hyper-critical brain? It’s very easy in this industry to let the goal posts shift on you, to look at the next benchmark and not behind, to forget how incredible it is to even write a book. I’m trying to take time to admire how far I’ve come from my original manuscript which was an underwater Hunger Games knockoff (lol, no seriously).
What was your journey to publishing THE JASMINE PROJECT?
It was a long and twisty road. I started out six years ago and wrote some truly bad manuscripts. I hadn’t read anything published recently. I hadn’t understood craft. I just wrote The Hunger Games rip off to do something with my mind. And then I started taking it seriously. I wrote a book called SCATTERED, which was adult, and signed with my agent. Then people don’t usually talk about the time in between signing and getting that first book deal and it’s a really difficult period because it feels like it should be happily ever after, but it’s just the beginning. SCATTERED didn’t sell as adult. This was about three or four years ago and adult still is behind kidlit in diversity and was very behind then. I next wrote a domestic suspense and it was really hard to hear: we love this, we just don’t know how to market it because it wasn’t straight and white. So I went back to SCATTERED and made it YA. The whole concept didn’t really work as YA, but my writing caught my editor’s eye and together we came up with THE JASMINE PROJECT! And now within the next two years I’ll have four books with my title on the cover. It’s a wild ride.
Do you have other favorite stories with adopted MCs?
I think so few are done well, honestly. I’m always extremely disappointed when I pick up a book by a few Asian American author and it’s about an adoptee and I think: yay! Then I read it and it’s more offensive than other stories I’ve read. That said, I did really like Ashely Woodfolk’s THE BEAUTY THAT REMAINS.
About the Author
Meredith Ireland was born in Korea and adopted by a New York librarian. Her love of books started early and although she pursued both pre-med at Rollins College and law at the University of Miami, stories were her fate. She currently resides with her two children, and Bob, a carnival goldfish, who’s likely a person. She writes young adult books, some of which you may like. The Jasmine Project is her debut novel.