by Renee Macalino Rutledge, May 19, 2022 8:45 AM
All my life, I’ve heard the questions the protagonist in the story hears. As a brown person, I’ve come to expect being exoticized, “othered” in habitual conversation.
What was your favorite book as a child?
The Chronicles of Narnia series and The Sweet Valley High series.
When did you know you were a writer?
This realization probably set in in middle school, when I wrote when nobody told me to. It wasn’t for an assignment, it wasn’t for a teacher. It was for myself. I wrote in many forms, from poetry to nonfiction. I was writing fan fiction before there was a name for it.
What does your writing workspace look like?
I am lucky to have a water view. I have windows that overlook a lagoon. But in truth, I can write anywhere. More often than not, I am not sitting in front of that view behind a super-neat desk with a vase of flowers on it. There’s likely unfolded laundry near me, and an empty plate I haven’t cleaned up. Place isn’t a factor so much as time.
What was it like to collaborate with an illustrator on this book?
I had an idea of the basic sketches for every page of this book before an illustrator was chosen. It was very important for me to ensure that specific elements of both cultures were represented. I loved working with Anita Prades, who brought her own creativity, vision, and whimsy.
Introduce one other author you think people should read, and suggest a good book with which to start.
Lisa Ko: The Leavers. Haruki Murakami: Sputnik Sweetheart. Lysley Tenorio: Monstress.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
That no one is waiting for your book. It is up to you to bring it to fruition. I think it’s wonderful to have writing groups for support and encouragement. But the most time should be spent with the work itself—it will inform you of what you need to do next, more so than any outside reader.
No one is waiting for your book. It is up to you to bring it to fruition.
What do you hope young readers take away from One Hundred Percent Me?
I hope children come away with a sense of glowing positivity, seeing themselves represented and having one more tool to remember they too can write their own stories, whether that’s on paper or in any other form they wish to project their agency in this world. I hope adults come away remembering the wisdom of the child, one in which identity can’t be placed in neat fractions and those ever-important questions, such as “what do you want to be when you grow up?” don’t need to be answered right now, because the answer is ever-evolving.
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Renee Macalino Rutledge
was born in Manila, Philippines, and raised in California from the age of four. Her debut novel, The Hour of Daydreams
, won an Institute for Immigration Research New American Voices Finalist award, Foreword INDIES Gold, and Powell's Top Five Staff Pick. In addition to One Hundred Percent Me
, she is also the author of the children’s book Buckley the Highland Cow & Ralphy the Goat
, a story about overcoming hardship with the help of our friends, who are often very different from ourselves. Renee lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, where she reads books for a living, loves the outdoors, and is always on the lookout for new adventures with her husband and their two daughters. Find her at www.reneerutledge.com
or connect with her on Instagram @renee_rutledge