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Jenny Han, author behind "The Summer I Turned Pretty" series, on how Taylor Swift's music played a role in her writing

Jenny Han on "The Summer I Turned Pretty"
Author and showrunner Jenny Han on her successful book series, which is now a TV show 06:44

Bestselling author Jenny Han, who is known for a series of beloved young adult novels, is now a showrunner for a new Prime Video series inspired by her famous trilogy "The Summer I Turned Pretty."

Han not only helped create the TV series, but she had a hand in its hit soundtrack, which includes songs from Cardi B, Olivia Rodrigo, Taylor Swift and other big names. Swift's music, in fact, has long played a role in Han's writing process, she said Monday on "CBS Mornings."

"I've been a fan for years. As I was writing the books, I was listening to her music," Han said, adding that Swift's music brought her the emotion she needed to tap into during her writing.

"I think that she understands young womanhood in a way and also love stories. That means a lot to me," Han said.

The Prime show follows Belly, a teenage girl whose family stays in a beach house every summer with her mom's best friend and her sons, Conrad and Jeremiah. The first season shows Belly in the summer ahead of her 16th birthday as the boys start to realize she isn't a kid anymore. A second season is already in the works.

Han is also the author behind "To All the Boys I've Loved Before" and "P.S. I Still Love You." 

For "The Summer I Turned Pretty," a New York Times bestseller, Han said she was telling a story about "girlhood in general."

"To me, it means stepping into your own power," she said. "I think it's a moment of coming of age, of growing up."

Han also discussed Asian representation, saying she was told by publishers years ago that people wouldn't read stories about Asian Americans and about Asian American families.

"I think it didn't even really hurt my feelings because it was just kind of so matter of fact," she said. 

Belly, who is an Asian American character in the show, is White in the original novel.

"I had tried to sell a book with an Asian main character before this one, and people weren't really interested in it," Han said. "The thing I would hear is, 'We already have a book with them.'"

After garnering trust from her audience, Han said, she was able to have more freedom with the background of her characters. But she knew from the beginning that she wanted to do more for Asian representation.

"Even my first book, it was important for me to have my picture on the back," Han said. "It wasn't really done at the time, and I thought, 'I want other young Asian women to see that and think it's possible.'"

Disclosure: Han's books are published by Simon & Schuster, a division of CBS News' parent company, Paramount Global.

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