Author with Buffalo roots explores digital world's dark side - The Buffalo News

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Author with Buffalo roots explores digital world's dark side

What makes an interesting, relatable, keep-you-on-the-edge-of-your-seat book?

Those questions could be answered by author Corrie Wang (rhymes with song). The Western New York native’s recently released debut book, "The Takedown," fits that description.

The young adult novel tells the story of Kyla Cheng, a popular, soon-to-be-valedictorian high school senior who is just about to submit her college applications when a fake, but realistic and very damaging video of her is uploaded to her school’s website.

The book follows Kyla as she struggles to find out who is trying to ruin her reputation.

This young adult novel is filled with suspense, laughs, and a plethora of quotes worthy of being posted on Pinterest.

Wang will be in Buffalo this weekend to sign copies of "The Takedown" at 2 p.m. Saturday at Rust Belt Books, 415 Grant St., Buffalo.

Also appearing at the book signing will be Sara Shepard, author of "The Pretty Little Liars" series.

"We will be chatting about writing "bad girls" and twisty thrillers, along with our own high school worst moments," Wang told NeXt in an email.

During a recent phone interview, Wang said that when she was attending the Kenmore-Tonwanda schools she "was always a big reader," but that she "never thought (she) could be an author."

However, while at Binghamton University, where she was studying English literature and studio art, she read a book called "A Prayer for Owen Meany" by John Irving, and "something just clicked."

The April release of "The Takedown" is something she is still adjusting to, Wang said, calling the experience "surreal, strange, a wonder." Having a published book makes her feel like she is a part of a "secret club" for authors, she said.

A lot of effort went into writing "The Takedown." Wang wrote the book five years ago and it was revised and revised again before being auctioned to Disney’s Freeform Books for publication.

"The Takedown" takes place in the near future, and is filled with technology that hasn’t been created yet. For inspiration, Wang said she did research on upcoming scientific technologies, like Google Glasses. But she noted that her original book was more gadget-y than the version that eventually was published.

Wang also said that before she wrote the book she had noticed a trend in young adult books where there was always "a superhero" character. But she wanted her characters to be "normal, relatable girls. And just girls." And she wanted to stress that being popular is not synonymous with being mean.

Among the factors that work against Kyla in "The Takedown" are the internet and social media.

Wang said that when social media was first developing, she "instantly didn’t like it." She said it was like a hole into which people fall and seem to have no escape.

Most teenagers have dealt with jealously and backstabbing by friends and peers. In some ways, social media makes negative interactions more frequent and more damaging.

"As far as friends go, there is always something beneath what people are posting and saying," Wang said. "We all try to be the best we can be."

As far as how "The Takedown" reflects what teens today might be going through with social media, Wang said "it’s an even parallel. Honestly, the book may not cover it well enough."

To minimize the negative impact of social media Wang suggests teens "try and shut your phone off as much as possible."

And, she pointed out, "Your family will always have your back. And you have an entire life to be with your family."

"The Takedown" also deals with what some people might consider "touchy subjects" like online stalkers and sex tapes. When asked if she worries about unintended consequences from what she is trying to accomplish with the book, Wang said that "no matter what you write, some people won’t like what you do no matter what."

To Wang, haters are "not a major concern" and she acknowledges that "for sure some people won’t like (the book)."

Wang’s philosophy is to ignore the detractors. "My life is more than that," she said. "Turn your head around and do your own thing."

Wang currently lives in Charleston, S.C., and with her husband, Shuai Wang, owns and operates a popular and nationally recognized food truck, the Short Grain, which serves nontraditional Japanese food. It’s a career that allows her to write.

She is currently working on a new young adult novel that, like "The Takedown," is set in the future. The new book will touch on issues of gender.

When asked if she had any final advice for her readers, Wang was quick to respond.

"Make sure you look up and engage," Mrs. Wang said. "If you do, you follow your heart, and you’ll end up in a really great place."

Elise Yu is a freshman at Williamsville East High School.

 

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