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 It’s actually a historical reference to the time her second emperor husband tried to create a brand new concubine title, Consort of the Polar Star, to satiate her, but the court officials were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. 

31 DAYS OF ASIAN AUTHORS, DAY 22: Zen Cho

Photographer: Jim C. Hines

Name: Zen Cho

Website: https://zencho.org

Asian background: Chinese Malaysian based in the UK

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

I had a very sheltered childhood with loving but overprotective parents and spent a lot of time extremely bored at home. My main diversion was reading, so I read voraciously. Books made me, so I ended up wanting to make them.

Name 3 authors and 3 books

Karen Lord, Redemption in Indigo
Patrick O’Brian, HMS Surprise
Kao Kalia Yang, The Latehomecomer

What do you think is the best quality a writer can have?
In order to succeed in a writing career, perseverance. To write a book that I will love, a sense of humour.


Any last words? (Fun facts, comments, something you’d like to share with the world, etc.)
In the nineteenth century the island of Penang in Malaysia was the destination for many convicts sentenced by the British colonial administration to transportation from India, but also from Sri Lanka and Hong Kong, and they helped build the infrastructure of the island.


Challenge: Write a one-sentence story!

“I could,” she said, “but I’d rather not.”

The Order of the Pure Moon Reflected in Water
The Order of the Pure Moon Reflected in Water is coming out on June 23rd 2020 from Tor.com Publishing

31 DAYS OF ASIAN AUTHORS, DAY 21: Lindsay Wong

Name: Lindsay Wong

Website: https://lindsaywongwriter.com

Asian background: Chinese-Canadian

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

I grew up in a dysfunctional Chinese family that doesn’t believe in mental illness so I ended up writing a memoir called The Woo-Woo: How I Survived Ice Hockey, Drug-Raids, Demons, And My Crazy Chinese Family (Arsenal Pulp Press, 2018).  I honestly didn’t know I wanted to be a writer until I majored in Creative Writing at The University of British Columbia. The department was the only one that would take me. Let’s just say I wasn’t a stellar student haha.

Most authors say that they always loved reading or writing, but I think I just “fell into it.” When everything felt too difficult or unbearable, writing made the world seem like it could be okay.

Name 3 authors and 3 books

These three female Asian authors are extremely bad-ass and I love their books so much. Definitely check them out for Asian heritage month!

  1. That Time I Loved You by Carrianne Leung
  2. Older Sister, Not Necessarily Related by Jenny Heijun Wills
  3. How Does A Single Blade Of Grass Thank The Sun? by Doretta Lau

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

A sturdy sense of humor! The rejections are abundant, plus writing a book is a long and exhausting process, and the day jobs (yes, multiple) are horrendous. Your Asian parents were right about going to law school. Being a writer is neither glamorous or fun. A few weeks ago,  a whole bunch of people just happened to email, DM, and tag me in shitty reviews of my work at the exact same time, and I already had a really bad day, as in, I worked 16+ hours, my boss yelled at me, and then my grandmother died, so I was like, Omg please noooooo, I just don’t want to deal with this right now and ate my weight in Twix bars lol. I think the key to surviving being an author is the ability to laugh at yourself and whatever bullshitty thing happens because writing has a lot of really WTF moments.

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

Confession: I used to pay for these long-ass flights go on these weird writing residencies where I’d self-isolate in a cozy cabin in the woods or just sit in this cottage in Key West by myself, but now that the whole world is social distancing or in lock down, I wonder if writing residencies will become less popular after COVID-19. During the pandemic, I’m spending my time hiding and catching up on writing and eating too many homemade marshmallows.

Also, I’ll be reading and answering Q&As for My Summer Of Love and Misfortune on Facebook Live as part of #CanadaPerforms on May 22 at 2 PM PST/5 PM EST. Please come hang out with me! (Bring snacks!) 😉

Challenge: Write a one-sentence story!

True story: I was craving mint chocolate ice cream for dinner, ran to the kitchen, tripped over furniture, broke my foot in three places, and never wanted to eat that flavor for 1.5 years.

Lindsay Wong will be reading and answering Q&As for My Summer Of Love and Misfortune on Facebook Live as part of #CanadaPerforms on May 22 at 2 PM PST/5 PM EST

31 DAYS OF ASIAN AUTHORS, DAY 20: Pamela Delupio

Name: Pamela Delupio

Website: www.-outofcontext-.tumblr.com

Asian background: Filipina

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

I was born in the Philippines, but my family immigrated to California when I was two years old. Growing up in a country where you barely know the language and you look so different from everyone else can make you lonely, can make feel unwanted, like maybe you don’t belong. Worse yet, with not much extra income, I relied on books and movies to entertain me, yet even in those fantasies there was still no one that looked like me. I loved The Little Mermaid, I wanted to be a Disney princess. But when you have no image of you reflected in any story, you begin to believe that you aren’t worthy, that you’re too different, that people like you don’t deserve to be seen. Well, FUCK THAT! Little Filipino boys and girls in this world need to know that they can be heroes too! We each have a story to tell, a voice that needs to be heard. And the more we’re seen, the more the next generation will see themselves, and know they belong.

Name 3 authors and 3 books.

Roshani Chokshi – The Star Touched Queen

Erin Entrada Kelly – Lailani of the Distant Sea

Sabaa Tahir – An Ember in the Ashes

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

Perseverance! Publishing is so subjective. Everyone has different tastes, different styles. You never know when fantasy is at its height in popularity or contemporary or romance. Write your story and keep honing your craft. The world will hear your story! It’s up to you to give the world the best story you possibly can. And never give up!

Any last words?

You know, I’m not the first Filipino to write a story and I won’t be the last. I do what I love and hope that one day someone else will love it too. That’s it man. That’s all we can do in life right? Find what makes you happy. Don’t ever apologize for it. And don’t let anyone take it away from you, including yourself. Other than that, be kind to each other. Help each other. Give each other advice. Success is not finite. There’s enough to go around. And in a community as marginalized as ours, one voice heard leads to another. So if one of us rises, we all rise. Let’s lift each other higher!

Write a one-sentence story!

In my dreams I could float amongst the stars, and when I wake I build the ladder to lift me there.