31 DAYS OF ASIAN AUTHORS, DAY 31: Gloria Chao


Name:
 Gloria Chao

Website: https://gloriachao.wordpress.com/


Asian background: 
Taiwanese American


What is it about your experience and upbringing that inspired you the most to write? 

A couple things: first, I wanted others who had similar upbringings as me (growing up with traditional immigrant parents) to know they aren’t alone, especially because it’s difficult to talk about these experiences sometimes even to loved ones. Second, because finding the humor in my familial interactions à la My Big Fat Greek Wedding changed my perspective and my relationships, and I wanted to try to give this to others.


Name 3 authors and 3 books: 

Samira Ahmed’s Mad, Bad & Dangerous to Know; Rachel Lynn Solomon’s Today Tonight Tomorrow; Kelly Yang’s Parachutes

What do you think is the best quality a writer can have? 

Persistence. Through the rejections, bad reviews, and many other obstacles that will definitely come.


Any last words? (Fun facts, comments, something you’d like to share with the world, etc.) 

My upcoming fall 2020 book, RENT A BOYFRIEND, is about a 19-year-old college sophomore who hires a fake boyfriend to introduce to her traditional parents. When she falls for the real him (the college dropout artist, not the aspiring surgeon her parents know), her carefully curated life begins to unravel.


Challenge: Write a one-sentence story!

If only Charlie could muster the strength to tell her how he felt, figure out how to find those elusive words, discover a way to do something he’d never done before . . . but he can’t, because he’s a dog, the “her” is his owner, and dogs can’t talk.

Gloria’s next novel, Rent a Boyfriend, will be coming out on November 10, 2020!

31 DAYS OF ASIAN AUTHORS, DAY 30: EeLeen Lee

Name: Eeleen Lee

Website: https://eeleenlee.wordpress.com/

Asian background: Malaysian-Chinese

What is it about your experience and upbringing that inspired you the most to write?
When you’ve come back from school and watched everything on TV for the afternoon (this was in London, UK, some years before the internet…) you get quite bored. And when you’re sufficiently bored as a kid you read anything in front of you, and then you reread it until you fall in love with the words. And then you have an elder brother who leaves his science fiction and fantasy books lying around the house, so you read those, and when he gets sent away to boarding school you dig out all his other books and read them too.

Name 3 authors and 3 books

  1. Red Sorghum by Mo Yan (translated by Howard Goldblatt in 1993): this novel combines family legends, folklore and history and sort of falls into the magical realism genre. (One day I’ll read it untranslated.)
  2.  Revelation Space by Alastair Reynolds (2000): so far, the only space opera to depict a real-time star map of the ENTIRE MILKY WAY.
  3.  The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson (1959): it’s actually quite a subtle ghost story, despite the title. And ghost stories tend to work best when they’re subtle.

What do you think is the best quality a writer can have?

Persistence, followed by curiosity.


Any last words? (Fun facts, comments, something you’d like to share with the world, etc.)
I collect rocks and minerals in my spare time, so it that knowledge went into my novel Liquid Crystal Nightingale. Also, obsidian isn’t a crystal but a natural volcanic glass. and amber isn’t a crystal too but it gives off an electrostatic charge.


Challenge: Write a one-sentence story!
When we lost the Moon we took one of Jupiter’s and now 50 000 alien ocean ice-dwellers aren’t very happy.

Check out Eeleen’s political thriller science fiction debut, Liquid Crystal Nightingale, which came out this past March!

31 DAYS OF ASIAN AUTHORS, DAY 29: Rebecca Wei Hsieh

Name: Rebecca Wei Hsieh (she/her)

Website: rwhsieh.wix.com/home (I’m not super good at updating that but I’m on twitter all the time @GeneralAsian)

Asian background: Han Taiwanese (Hakka and Hoklo)

What is it about your experience and upbringing that inspired you the most to write?

I started writing (outside of school) when I was around 12, and this admission makes me cringe a little, but I churned out Naruto fanfiction with a lot of Mary Sue self-inserts. In retrospect though, I’m glad that’s where it began: writing myself into existence. Tween-me wrote fic because she decided that she could add meaning to this universe and create more of what she wanted to see, things from her imagination, with all her 12 years of wisdom. It’s kind of a powerful feeling. As I got older, I grew frustrated with the lack of diversity in publishing. There were so many stories that I wanted to see unfold that just weren’t represented. What little decent representation I got was literally life-changing. So eventually I figured, hey, the stories I want aren’t going to write themselves, so I guess I’ll just do it my damn self.

Name 3 authors and 3 books

The Girl from Everywhere by Heidi Heilig

Because We Are Bad: OCD and a Girl Lost in Thought by Lily Bailey

The Broken Earth Trilogy by N.K. Jemisin (yes I’m cheating with a trilogy)


What do you think is the best quality a writer can have?

Empathy. I think it applies to any storyteller, or any human in general, really. Empathy to put yourself in characters’ shoes, to speak to the reader, and for your inner child so you don’t judge yourself or your work too harshly. But also empathy to know when to step aside, empathy to know when a story is not yours to tell.

Any last words? (Fun facts, comments, something you’d like to share with the world, etc.)

I’m also an actor, and I’m currently co-writing a memoir about life in Tibet under Chinese occupation!

Challenge: Write a one-sentence story!
She didn’t expect ghosts to follow her home, but there she was, sitting across the table from her long-dead Ah-ma.

31 DAYS OF ASIAN AUTHORS, DAY 28: Xiran Jay Zhou

Name: Xiran Jay Zhao

Website: xiranjayzhao.com

Asian background: First-gen immigrant from small town China

What is it about your experience and upbringing that inspired you the most to write?

I’m a lifelong fangirl who’d always been dreaming stories up. I remember being 7 and blabbing out entire Yugioh fanfics to my best friend at lunch (poor guy). Besides books, my favourite media to consume are anime and Asian dramas. My book Iron Widow, which comes out Fall 2021 from Penguin Random House, is basically a mecha anime meets a Chinese palace drama.

Name 3 authors and 3 books

Some recent books I’ve really enjoyed –

Slay by Brittney Morris

Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim

Shatter the Sky by Rebecca Kim Wells

(omg, they all start with an S!)

What do you think is the best quality a writer can have?

Persistence gets said a lot, but I think adaptability is actually more important. You need to learn from feedback and constantly be upping your craft, not just blinding writing book after book the same old way. You also need to be aware of market trends and have a target audience in mind. I know a lot of writers don’t like considering the business side of things, but if you want to be published professionally, then you do have to worry at least a little bit about that.

Any last words? (Fun facts, comments, something you’d like to share with the world, etc.)

Fun fact: there’s an extremely cheesy line in my book that’s like “YOU’RE MY POLAR STAR, WU ZETIAN.” It’s actually a historical reference to the time her second emperor husband tried to create a brand new concubine title, Consort of the Polar Star, to satiate her, but the court officials were like “Nuh-uh, you can’t invent a whole new title just for one woman!” So she was like “fine, then I’ll depose the empress and take HER title.” Then she did exactly that.

Challenge: Write a one-sentence story!

“I’ll finish this in the morning,” the exhausted college student said, doomed.

31 DAYS OF ASIAN AUTHORS, DAY 27: Jen Sookfong Lee

Name: Jen Sookfong Lee

Website: 
sookfong.com

Asian background:
Chinese

What is it about your experience and upbringing that inspired you the most to write? 

The Chinese Head Tax and Chinese Exclusion Act in Canada, which effectively kept my family separated for close to 40 years during the first half of the 20th century, was really the flashpoint for most of my fiction. And moving forward as I write in other genres, that flashpoint has morphed into themes of intergenerational trauma, identity, and marginalization. 

Name 3 authors and 3 books

In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado

The Subtweet by Vivek Shraya

Moon of the Crusted Snow by Waubgeshig Rice

What do you think is the best quality a writer can have?

Resilience. The writing process and the publishing industry will wear a writer down, and you need that ability to get back up when things push you down. 

Any last words? (Fun facts, comments, something you’d like to share with the world, etc.) 

Hold your community (however you define it) close! They will help you through everything.

Challenge: Write a one-sentence story! 
When I woke up, I knew I had been dreaming about a wedding, about a white dress, a limousine driving through the fallen cherry blossoms, the sky clear and endless, and I also knew, with a heavy certainty, that this was a real life impossibility.

31 DAYS OF ASIAN AUTHORS, DAY 26: Mary Fan

Name: Mary Fan

Website: MaryFan.com

Asian background:
2nd generation Chinese American

What is it about your experience and upbringing that inspired you the most to write?
I was lucky enough to grow up surrounded by books. From the story books my parents used to read me to school and local libraries to my own collections at home… as far as I can remember, my parents never said no when I asked for a book. Because books were always a part of my life, it felt natural to try writing stories of my own.

Name 3 authors and 3 books
American Panda by Gloria Chao

Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix by Julie C Dao

The Astonishing Color of After by Emily XR Pan


What do you think is the best quality a writer can have?
In my opinion, the best quality a writer can have is empathy for their own characters — to treat them as people living the story rather than chess pieces advancing a plot, and give them emotional depth and human flaws.

Any last words? (Fun facts, comments, something you’d like to share with the world, etc.)
Don’t know if this counts as a fun fact, but I’m currently in the middle of wrapping up the first series conclusion I’ve written in five years (Seize the Stars, 3rd and final installment of the Starswept trilogy). I started writing this series way back in 2013, so it feels really weird to be ending it. Also nerve-wracking. But also rewarding.

Challenge: Write a one-sentence story!
With the red-and-brown clouds of Jupiter swirling ahead, she thrust forward the controls of the stolen shuttle and laughed, knowing that however mad her parents back on the exploration ship would be when they found out what she’d done, they could never say she was too young to pilot again.

Stronger Than a Bronze Dragon is an awesome Asian steampunk fantasy! A must-read!

31 DAYS OF ASIAN AUTHORS, DAY 25: Rona Wang

Name: Rona Wang

Website: Find me at https://twitter.com/ronaywang

Asian background: 
Chinese-American

What is it about your experience and upbringing that inspired you the most to write?

Honestly, it’s so hard to pinpoint any one thing because I’ve been telling stories since before I could hold a pen. But I’m so grateful to my parents for filling our home with books. I grew up with so much magic, and I always knew I wanted to create similar wonder for other people.

Name 3 authors and 3 books

Three recent reads by Asian-American authors: Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng, The Incendiaries by R.O. Kwon, and Chemistry by Weike Wang! All phenomenal, highly recommended.

What do you think is the best quality a writer can have?
Persistence!


Any last words? (Fun facts, comments, something you’d like to share with the world, etc.)
I hope everybody is doing well in these uncertain times. Sending lots of love and warmth your way.


Challenge: Write a one-sentence story!
Tasked with writing a story contained within one sentence, she removed her keyboard’s period key

31 DAYS OF ASIAN AUTHORS, DAY 24: AH Kim

Name: Ann Kim (writing as A.H. Kim)

Website: www.ahkim.net

Asian background: Korean (born in Seoul, moved to US when I was almost 2 years old)

What is it about your experience and upbringing that inspired you the most to write? 

I’ve always loved books, but I never imagined that I could be a writer. Then one summer I read John Green’s The Fault In Our Stars, and it touched me deeply. It inspired me to try writing a YA book from an Asian-American teenager’s perspective. I was not able to get an agent for that book, but I enjoyed the writing process so much that I started another book, which turned out to be my debut novel A Good Family (launching July 14).


Name 3 authors and 3 books. 

Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White, my all-time favorite book.

The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan, the first time I felt like a book reflected my Asian-American experience.

Free Food for Millionaires by Min Jin Lee — her debut novel, which I actually prefer to her highly acclaimed (and excellent) second novel Pachinko. 


What do you think is the best quality a writer can have? 

Compassion — for their fellow humans and for themselves.

Any last words? (Fun facts, comments, something you’d like to share with the world, etc.)  

I was in my late 40s when I decided I wanted to be a published author. It took almost nine years for that dream to come true. That sounds like a long time, but in talking with other authors, it’s about par for the course. If you want to write, be patient with yourself and keep the faith.

Challenge: Write a one-sentence story!  

Her mother taught her to be afraid, and her children taught her to be brave.

A.H. Kim’s debut novel, A Good Family, is coming out on July 14th 2020!

31 DAYS OF ASIAN AUTHORS, DAY 23: C.H. Barron

Name: C.H. Barron is my pen name/the initials of my full name, but I just go by Karra

Website: www.chbarron.com

Asian background: 100% Filipina

What is it about your experience and upbringing that inspired you the most to write?   

Filipinos are quite superstitious and we have all sorts of folklore to explain why someone is sick, why it’s raining so hard, why you shouldn’t climb a mango tree, etc. I’ve been making up stories since I was a toddler and growing up in the Philippines was the perfect way for my imagination to really blossom!

Here’s an example of the fun material I get to work with: My older cousin once told me that he got really sick as a child. He had a fever that wouldn’t go down, aches, pains, you name it. No doctor or medicine could cure him. Finally, his parents took him to an albularyo (a folk healer) and she set a basin of water down beside him. She stared at the water for a time. When the albularyo looked up at last, she came over to my cousin’s side and flicked something off his shoulder. She told him a duende (dwarf) had been sitting there and cursed him with a sickness for accidentally stepping on him (mind you, duendes are invisible so it’s hardly my cousin’s fault, but mythical creatures are a prickly bunch all the same!). After that, my cousin was cured and lived to tell this story that I now suspect is just a tall tale…but what if it isn’t? Those are the possibilities I get to play with as a writer thanks to my family and my culture. 

Name 3 authors and 3 books   

Since I primarily write fantasy at the moment, here are my picks in that genre:   

Little Wounded Gods by Eliza Victoria

The Darker Shades of Magic series by V.E. Schwab   

Legend series by Marie Lu

What do you think is the best quality a writer can have?   

Confidence. There are going to be many times when you think your story isn’t good enough or you don’t have the talent to write something worth reading. Whether your goal is to be published or just to write that story burning a hole in your heart, you need to believe in yourself above all else. It’s that confidence in your abilities that will encourage you out of the times you want to give up, but also guide you to make the right decisions for your story. 


Any last words? (Fun facts, comments, something you’d like to share with the world, etc.)

If you’re not on social media, I highly encourage you to get on Twitter! As an emerging writer, I’ve been using it to connect with other writers since I have so few loved ones who write and just “get” what this path is all about. Looking for communities through contests like DVPit or Pitch Wars has introduce me to so many wonderful people who have now become critique partners, mentors, and friends IRL. 


Challenge: Write a one-sentence story!

The runners turned the corner and found they had gone back in time to the Battle of Manila Bay.