Axie Oh on second chance love in ASAP

ASAP is the sequel to XOXO.


It’s no secret that we love Axie Oh. We have chatted with her about her YA fantasy The Girl Who Fell Beneath the Sea and we have featured her contemporary romance XOXO in countless roundups, such as this one on YA K-pop books. You can probably tell we are super excited to learn that she is revisiting the world of XOXO to tell the story of Sori and Nathaniel. And more excitingly, Axie Oh is here to chat with us about writing ASAP and second chance love stories.

When did you know you wanted to tell the story of Sori and Nathaniel?

A few months before XOXO’s release! Early readers were reaching out to me asking if there’d be a sequel. Many specifically brought up wanting to read Sori and Nathaniel’s story. That’s when I started thinking to myself, “Maybe I should write their love story” and started brainstorming what it might look like. I also really loved the idea of having a heroine who was an insider in the Korean music industry, unlike Jenny who was new to everything in XOXO.

Sori and Nathaniel’s story is a second chance romance story. What do you think makes “second chance love” more interesting than the “love at first sight” trope?

Honestly, I like both tropes! I think there are very few tropes I dislike, even a love triangle. What’s appealing to me about “second chance love” is facing past regrets and requiting love that might have never been fully requited or had closure after the characters parted ways. My favorite Austen is Persuasion for example, because I just love how the characters grow from past choices and have to leave themselves in the most vulnerable of states in order to face their fears and seize love or lose it forever! The same thing is happening in ASAP. Sori broke up with Nathaniel because she was convinced by her mother that it would be best for her, and now she must seize her second chance at love even if that means she might be left broken-hearted in the end.

Sori filmed various shows during ASAP – live radio, variety show, drama, and award show. Just like how Sori had to answer this – who is your most famous contact on your phone? Do you think he/she will likely pick up when you call?

Haha! I have author friends who’d answer my call! My closest author friends are Akshaya Raman who wrote the Indian fantasy duology The Ivory Key and The Crimson Fortress, Katy Rose Pool whose latest release is a romantic fantasy mystery called Garden of the Cursed, and Sarah Suk whose The Space Between Here and Now is a beautiful speculative coming-of-age story—all three of them I’m certain would answer a call from me!

All these shows are so interesting to read about! Which one was your favourite one to write? And which is the most difficult?

All of them were super fun and easy to write, haha! I guess the hardest would be the variety show/game program because I had to write it in a way where it’s engaging to the readers! It helps that it’s inspired by a real game show called Running Man.

In particular, the variety show scenes, both the filming and the aired scenes, were written so well! How did you make it so realistic?

I imagined how it would feel like to be on the show and tried to make the scenes feel immediate, like you’re in the scene with the characters.

Sori’s character development in ASAP is amazing. Was it easier to write her story compared to Jenny’s?

Yes, and no. In terms of character development, that is always hard across any book. I spend most of my time working on character development, specifically of the main character and the love interest, for all my books. I really want to show them changing and growing throughout the story. When a character faces their fear, making themselves vulnerable in the process, is one of my favorite moments to write, and read, in books! But in terms of writing Jenny vs. Sori’s voice, it was a really fun experience to write Sori because her life is so completely different than mine, and so is her personality. Not to say I’m similar to Jenny, but I am much warmer and open than Sori, so it was fun to write a character who’s colder (at least outwardly) and moves through the world so differently than me!

There are so many side characters in ASAP. Were you worried that there would be too many?

Yes, actually! I wanted to bring over the fun side characters from XOXO, since I know that’s what readers of the first book would want, but Sori’s world is populated with different characters than Jenny’s, so I had to balance the cast as it grew! It was fun seeing the other members from Sori’s POV though because she obviously has different relationships with them than Jenny had. For example, Sori grew up with Sun and he’s more of an older brother figure to her, while he was antagonistic to Jenny. I loved writing Sori and Sun’s dynamic the most, apart from Sori and Nathaniel (and Sori and Jenny).

And finally, with that many side characters, will we get to revisit some of them in the future?

I left the door open for Sun and Youngmin to have their own love stories! We’ll see what the future brings!

Get your copy of ASAP by Axie Oh from Amazon.

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