David Yoon, NYT Bestselling Author


Cool Tools Show 271: David Yoon

Our guest this week is David Yoon. David is the New York Times bestselling author of Frankly in Love, Super Fake Love Song, and Version Zero. He’s also co-publisher of Joy Revolution, a Random House imprint dedicated to love stories starring people of color. David lives in Los Angeles with his wife, novelist Nicola Yoon, and their daughter. You can find David on Instagram @davidoftheyoon and Twitter @davidyoon.

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Show notes:

MOFT Laptop Stand ($25)
This is a flat piece of die-cut magic that you stick onto the bottom of your laptop that unfolds origami-style to become a keyboard riser. Because it lifts your screen closer to eye level, it makes your laptop a billion times more ergonomic. I work wherever I happen to be, so having a stand always at the ready (without any extra gear to carry) is great. Pre-pandemic, this meant airport lounges and cafes and hotel rooms; these days, I bounce around from the kitchen to my desk to the dining table, just for a change of scenery.

Duboco A+ Book Stand ($25)
I had a pretty bad habit of reaching for my phone whenever there was a lull in life’s action. Since quarantine, lulls have become the norm—and that meant I was constantly doomscrolling (news) or envyscrolling (social media). Super bad for my mental health! So I decided to give up reading the internet entirely (which has been great) and give my attention to pre-internet era media like books. This bookstand is awesome—it slides up and down to things to proper eye level. And if I leave it with an open book always clipped in, it drastically reduces my urge to reach for my phone when I’m eating or taking a snack break simply because it eliminates any of that tiny friction keeping me from opening a book, fishing out the most recent page, and propping it up on something. In other words, the stand makes books more convenient than screens! I read a ton more as a result and my brain thanks me every day.

Remo Silentstroke quiet drum heads ($90)
I have a drum kit that used to sit in the corner collecting dust, because it was way too loud to play on a regular basis. These Silentstroke heads are made of mesh that drastically reduce the noise level without sacrificing feel—totally different from traditional mufflers, which are made of clunky hard rubber. I paired these with Zildjian’s excellent L80 Low Volume cymbals, and now I actually find myself playing drums on breaks for a few minutes at a time: a Weezer song here, a Questlove riff there. Drums are great therapy, especially these days.

Sorta adaptive note binders ($24)
I’m biased here because I invented this notebook. It looks like a normal hardcover Moleskine, but it has a trick spine that lets you easily remove the pages so you can rearrange them however you want. I invented (and patented) this thing because as much as I love notebooks, I always found them intimidating—I would worry that my dumb random notes weren’t worthy of their acid-free archival signature-bound pages. The Sorta notebook removes all that anxiety. If you write something that turns out to be useless, just take that page out and recycle it. If you don’t know where a particular note belongs, just write it down anywhere and rearrange it later. Another fun thing about Sorta is you can mix and match templates (to do lists, graph paper, etc) just how you like it. It’s like the healthy physicality of paper combined with the no-pressure random access nature of digital media.

About Version Zero:
The project I’m most excited about right now is my debut adult novel called Version Zero, which is a thriller about the internet. The story revolves around Max, a brilliant and idealistic product designer rising fast in the tech industry, who blows the whistle on his company’s sketchy use of private user data only to get fired and blackballed by the entire industry. Betrayed, he forms a hacker collective to expose the unsavory side of our internet lives; along the way, he’s contacted by a man named Pilot—a reclusive ex-tech billionaire who vanished from the scene years ago. Pilot is just as disllusioned by tech as Max is, and together they embark a mission to take the “big 5” internet companies to task for their sins against humanity. What Max doesn’t know is that Pilot has his own mysterious reasons for starting this epic fight against his own ex-colleagues.

The story is a departure from my first two YA novels, and it draws pretty heavily from my 12+ years working first as a web designer and later as a user experience expert. I know how the online sausage is made, and let’s just say I dont’ want my 8-year-old daughter to get online for…ever, if I can manage it! Max’s story has a lot of my own anxieties and questions about the sheer speed and scale of tech in our lives, and while we in the real world tend to hem and haw about the pros and cons of constant smartphone use, Max comes to a firm decision that hopefully will be a fun and provocative source of debate for readers.


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