Would You Rather with Author Diana Ma


If you are looking for a Crazy Rich Asians meets Gossip Girl vibe that will combat the holiday season’s stress, then Heiress Apparently is the book for you! Diana Ma balanced the perfect amount of “gasp” soap opera drama and hard-hitting topics that address racism, LGBTQ+ stereotypes, and critical historical events in Chinese culture. Heiress Apparently is a story about a struggling actress trying to find her voice. Through her time in Beijing, she realizes she is the twin of a controversial young socialite and uncovers a family secret that will help her find the strength inside her all along.  

If you were Gemma would you rather be “Instagram official” with Ken or Eric?

Diana Ma: Eric! I’m not even sure if you could call the relationship situation in my book a love triangle since the clear choice was always Eric. I had fun writing Ken as a character, but it’s Eric all the way!

Your book has been compared to Crazy Rich Asians and Gossip Girl. If you could choose one world to live in for the day would it be Crazy Rich Asians or Gossip Girl?

Crazy Rich Asians. For one thing, I don’t think I’ve watched a single full episode of Gossip Girl, but I devoured the Crazy Rich Asians series and saw the romcom as soon as it hit the theaters…and have watched it more than once since then. Also, CRA has fashion, food, and—most importantly—Asians!

In your book, you stated that Gemma was inspired by the film of To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before. If Gemma had to choose among Lara Jean’s suitors would she rather chose Peter or John? (Pssst…please say Peter.)

Peter if we’re talking about the book series. If we’re talking about the Netflix version of Peter and John Ambrose…then still Peter, but Gemma would struggle! That flashback scene with Lara Jean dressed as French toast and John Ambrose as a deviled egg made me waver in my commitment to “Team Peter.”

Would you rather write a book in one day or read the dictionary in one day?

When my eldest kid was just starting to read, he was obsessed with the Pokemon handbooks, which were basically Pokemon dictionaries. He would ask me to read from a handbook every night. And I’d always fall asleep before my kid did. I finally had to tell him that I’d be happy to read anything with a plot or a point or a purpose…but just couldn’t handle reading Pokemon stats. The silver lining is that this motivated my son to finally learn how to read on his own. Anyway, my point is that reading a dictionary would put me to sleep! I’d much rather write a novel—a very short novel—in a day.

Authors always find themselves relating to and seeing themselves in the characters they create in some significant way. Would you rather frolic around all the exclusive nightclubs and gourmet restaurants that Sanlitun, Beijing offers with Gemma or Alyssa?

I’d have to pick Alyssa here. Don’t get me wrong—I think Gemma would be just as much fun to hang out with, but this is Alyssa’s hometown, so she’d be better as a guide. But I might be too intimidated by a famous socialite to relax and have fun. Gemma would understand feeling out of place among the rich elite. Ideally, I’d love to hang out with both Gemma and Alyssa!

Gemma struggles with her identity as a Chinese-American woman and sees herself as a foreigner in the country where her family is from. Would you rather be a tourist when visiting a new country or go off the beaten path? 

I’d like to say that I’d rather “go off the beaten path,” but it depends on the country and the situation. In China and Taiwan, I have relatives and can speak Mandarin somewhat well enough to get around, so I wouldn’t want to be just a “tourist” in either of those countries. On the other hand, when I visited Beijing, I went to tourist locations like the Great Wall and the Forbidden City. These are places of immense cultural importance, and I wouldn’t have wanted to miss them. But I also loved visiting the Yunnan Province of China, where my mother is from.

I see that Heiress, Apparently is going to be turned into a book series! When can we expect the second book of the series? And if you had to read either stand-alone or book series for the rest of your life what would you rather read?

The second book of the series is coming up soon, thanks to the hard work done by the amazing team at Abrams Books! There isn’t a firm date yet, but I think it will be out sometime late Fall of 2021. I don’t know how to answer the second part of your question! As soon as I decide on answering “book series,” I remember a stand-alone book that I absolutely love! Argh. I’m sorry—I just can’t choose!

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