Thursday, September 11, 2014

AP Author Spotlight: Pema Donyo

Pema Donyo
Describe yourself in three words:
Curious, creative, caffeinated
Tell us a little about your latest release:
TITLE: The Innocent Assassins
BLURB: There are three rules to staying an assassin at the corporation of Covert Operatives: (1) your parents must be deceased, (2) your contracts must remain confidential, and (3) you must be under the age of eighteen.
After a murder mission goes awry a month before her eighteenth birthday, Covert Operatives assassin Jane Lu finds herself caught by the federal government and forced to spy for the CIA while remaining in Covert Operatives. Once her spying mission is over, she will be allowed to live a civilian life without facing criminal consequences—a life she’s only dreamed of having.
As Jane leaks information to the CIA, she uncovers secrets with enough power to both destroy Covert Operatives and her own boyfriend, Adrian King, who’s next in line to be CEO of the company. When her identity as a double agent for the CIA is discovered within Covert Operatives, she must decide where her allegiance, and her heart, truly lies.
IDEA: The film Jack Reacher with Tom Cruise was amazing. After I saw it, I picked up a Lee Child book from the series and couldn't put it down. But it made me wonder - where was the female Jack Reacher? And especially the TEENAGE female Jack Reacher? Thriller novels are a new staple on my bookshelf, but I longed for a fresh take to the genre. The original title of my story was THE TEENAGE ASSASSINS, because I wanted to make a statement about what a "kid" could do. There are documented assassins under the age of eighteen, and I'm sure there are CIA members under eighteen as well.
Additionally, the idea of murder has always fascinated me. What makes them do it? Why commit such a terrible crime? I wanted to create a world where the crime of murder was excusable, even expected. In my novel, Jane Lu grows up in a school which trains students to commit assassinations. The school doesn't exist as a cold-blooded institution, but as a family. All the students see each other as lifelong friends and loved ones. My book poses the question, "When crime is all you know, is it still criminal?"
What is your earliest memory?
Buying The Lord of the Rings trilogy from Costco when I was in first grade. Well, my dad bought it.
*Dad wheeling me through the book section while I'm sitting in the shopping cart*
Me *points at The Lord of the Rings books*: I want those!
Dad: You're five.
Me: I'll read them!
Yeah, they're still sitting on my shelf untouched.
What would you consider the greatest moment in your life?
The first time I was ever paid for my writing. I was ten, I think, and I submitted my poem to New Moon Magazine. They paid $20 for it. Those $20 seemed pretty much like $2 million to me at the time.
What’s the hardest thing in in life you’ve done?
Serving my current internship in Washington DC! As a Southern California girl born and raised, it was hard to leave all my family members and friends on the West Coast behind. But I love the work that I do in my internship, and it's great to finally have the chance to live on my own. (Learning to cook has definitely been the most difficult challenge.)
What have you learned in life so far?
To take chances, but be smart about them. I've done things which at the time seemed like great ideas, but in retrospect they were just dumb. And dangerous. Living in the city for the first time has taught me to be more cautious than I was before. Also, I've learned not to be afraid to try. Nothing in life is handed to you on a silver platter. You have to actively want and reach for your goals, or you'll never achieve them.
Everyone’s favourite question: if you could invite five people for dinner, who would it be?
(1) Olivia Pope: I could talk some sense into her about leaving the President once and for all. Your life has enough scandal, girl. Also she could show me the best places to shop in DC, because her wardrobe would be appreciated.
(2) Mindy Kaling/Vera Chokalingam: (Who else had their mind blown when they realized her actual name was VERA?) She's hilarious and smart and dinner with her would be a blast. We'd probably go to a sushi bar and make fun of all her cast members over sake bombs and sashimi.
(3) Rose from Titanic: Just so I could tell her that she and Jack could have shared that piece of driftwood, end of story.
(4) Lee Child: I'm a huge fan of his novels. I'd probably end up geeking out and ask him to autograph all my books, or something. Then we'd go eat whatever Jack Reacher's favorite food is. Probably hot dogs with mustard - something super American and masculine. Or protein shakes. Yeah, definitely protein shakes.
(5) James Bond: I'm really not sure what we'd talk about but I'm sure the conversation would still be great. Also, think of the amazing Facebook profile picture!
Chance for our readers - what else would you like to know about Pema Donyo?


  1. I love that movie and your premise sounds so cool. So glad to see you're successful with this idea. :)
    Edge of Your Seat Stories

  2. This sounds like an amazing book. Thanks for sharing your story with us.