Society of
Children's Book Writers
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Interview with Stacey Lee

Congratulations to Stacey Lee on winning the prestigious Crystal Kite Award for her newest novel The Downstairs Girl.

Stacey is a longtime SF/South regional member, and you may remember her as a faculty member at our Golden Gate Conference in 2017. We couldn’t be prouder of her! Please join us in celebrating Stacey on this accomplishment.

Christine Evans asked Stacey a few questions about her writing and her big win.

You’ve been a member of SCBWI since 2008. What are some of your best SCBWI memories?

Best memory was my first Asilomar conference in 2012 and meeting people I’m still friends with, including our own Kristi Wright! That particular conference was special because I remember having serious imposter syndrome. I wasn’t sure I was qualified to attend a real writing conference, and so I read all the speakers’ books so I could sound like I knew what I was doing. But our local chapter was such a warm and welcoming place. Okay, winning the Golden Gate Award and getting to shake Arthur Levine’s hand was also memorable!

You’ve published four YA novels and counting. What has been the highlight of your career so far?

Winning the Crystal Kite of course!! As they say, success is nothing without someone to share it with, and this award is like getting a big hug from my writing community.

A photo from Stacey’s research trip to Atlanta, GA for The Downstairs Girl. She was chatting with an ‘old timer’ at the Atlanta History Museum about life in the 19th century.

What advice would you give to a brand new member of SCBWI?

Go to conferences (I especially recommend the SCBWI Summer Annual in LA). There are so many wonderful speakers waiting to help you better your craft. SCBWI has been offering many online workshops this summer that makes it easy to take part. Definitely look into the many grants and scholarships available —there’s even one for debut authors to help defray the cost of book launches.

What can we expect to see next from you?

My fourth historical novel is out next May, about the eight Chinese men on the Titanic. Most people, myself included, didn’t even know there were Chinese aboard the Titanic, but there were and six of them survived. Efforts are underway to understand who these men were, but my story is a fictionalized account of who they could be, and asks the question, who is worth saving?

Stacey’s Crystal Kite Award-winning book, The Downstairs Girl

What piece of classic writing advice do you always ignore (e.g. write every day, don’t revise as you write etc.)? And what is your favorite advice?

I neither write every day nor save my revising to the end. My answer is, what is the classic writing advice? OK that was tongue in cheek, but I do like this piece of advice: know the rules before you break them. I love a good rule breaker, but it only works if you know what you’re doing.

Finally, what are you loving right now? (books, tv, food, anything).

I’m loving this bird-centered board game called Wingspan. My family and I have been playing it every night for the past few months and we are obsessed. It is beautifully constructed and conceived, and unwittingly teaches you more about birds than you wanted to know. I’m also learning the history of country music. Why? You’ll find out soon!

Thank you Stacey, and congratulations again!

Stacey Lee is a fourth generation Chinese-American whose people came to California during the heydays of the cowboys. She believes she still has a bit of cowboy dust in her soul. A native of southern California, she graduated from UCLA then got her law degree at UC Davis King Hall. After practicing law in the Silicon Valley for several years, she finally took up the pen because she wanted the perks of being able to nap during the day, and it was easier than moving to Spain. She plays classical piano, raises children, and writes YA fiction. Please visit her website at, and follow her @staceyleeauthor.