31 DAYS OF ASIAN AUTHORS, DAY 15: Henry Lien


Name: Henry Lien

Website: www.henrylien.com

Asian background: 
Taiwanese (born in Taipei)


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

My current middle grade fantasy series, Peasprout Chen, was my response to my experience immigrating to California from Taiwan as a kid. It’s about a brother and sister who leave their homeland to come to a new country and study at a boarding school that teaches an art form combining figure skating with kung fu. I wanted to create my own diverse Harry Potter that had diversity baked into it from the outset, that had no flat-out magic, but that showed that culture, history, and athletics could be as wildly entertaining as any magic. The books draw upon my own heritage and are my love letter to Taiwan. However, when I came to the U.S., there were few books with characters that looked like me. That’s usually not a great thing for a kid, but it turned out to be the best possible thing for me. See, I was a very over-confident, conceited, and hideously self-involved kid. Being forced to read books about people who didn’t look like me and had different backgrounds, lifestyles, and values, was the best possible thing for me. My childhood was infinitely richer reading books like Little Women about people who were nothing like me. So the Peasprout Chen books are my way of saying thank you to America for sharing its culture with me by sharing some of my culture with America.

Name 3 authors and 3 books
Shaun Tan, “The Arrival”

Ted Chiang, “Exhalation” 

Cixin Liu, “The Three Body Problem”

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

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

I write theme songs for my books! There’s a video of Idina Menzel (the star of Frozen, Wicked, Glee, and Rent) performing one of them at my book launch. Please check out www.henrylien.com/peasproutchen to view! 

Challenge: Write a one-sentence story!

If you can understand these words, then you’re probably human, but I’m not making any assumptions these days, not after what I saw in the ocean off of São Miguel Island.

Kung fu ice skating? Sign me up! Henry’s Peasprout Chen series is described as “Hermione Granger meets ‘Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon’ meets the Ice Capades meets ‘Mean Girls.’”

31 DAYS OF ASIAN AUTHORS, DAY 14: London Shah

Name: London Shah

Website: www.londonshah.com

Asian background:
South Asian Pashtun

What is it about your experience and upbringing that inspired you the most to write?
Like almost every child, I found escape in the stories I read (mostly silly ones that made me laugh!). And I can’t recall a time when I didn’t enjoy writing my own. But growing up, I never—not once—read a single story where the MC was a Muslim. And still, to this day, the absolute lack of Muslim representation in British SFF is astonishing and utterly shameful. The Light at the Bottom of the World is the first science-fiction novel to star a British Muslim main character, and the first science-fiction or fantasy narrative to star a lead of British Pashtun ethnicity. I’m simultaneously appalled and honoured by this knowledge.

Name 3 authors and 3 books
S K Ali and LOVE FROM A TO Z

Kat Cho and WICKED FOX

Sona Charaipotra and SYMPTOMS OF A HEARTBREAK

What do you think is the best quality a writer can have?
To see their idea through. To have the passion and ruthless determination and endless patience required to take the vision in their head and bring it to life. To carry it through all the doubts (especially those arising from the state of the industry if they’re a PoC author) and obstacles and research and time constraints, until they’ve created something they feel does that idea proud. 


Any last words? (Fun facts, comments, something you’d like to share with the world, etc.)
Possibly not what you had in mind, but I’ll burst if I don’t say this: Please check in with any elderly neighbours you might have as we continue through this tough time. So many of them aren’t technologically-minded and so don’t even have virtual company. They may feel they’re bothering us if they say anything. There are so many who are incredibly lonely, and in need right now. Please, if you can, ensure those who don’t have somebody helping, have enough groceries etc. Please don’t assume someone is taking care of them—check to be sure. *Falls off pulpit*

Challenge: Write a one-sentence story!
Mehmuna closed her eyes upon sight of the burning hut, covered her face against the ashy breeze taunting the village now, and silently howled for the fated loss of her own soul.

The Light at the Bottom of the World is the first science-fiction novel to star a British Muslim main character, and the first science-fiction or fantasy narrative to star a lead of British Pashtun ethnicity!

31 DAYS OF ASIAN AUTHORS, DAY 13: June Hur

Name: June Hur
Website: 
junehur.com

Asian background:
Korean

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

For most of my life, I’ve known very little about Korean history, even though my parents are “very” Korean and even though I lived in Korea when I was a teen. Then in 2015, out of sheer curiosity, I read further into Korean history – and fell madly in love with it. I was fascinated by everything and was gripped by a terrifying desperation to write a Korean historical mystery. I hesitated for a while, wondering if I, a Korean-Canadian ‘diasporan’, even had the right to write about Korea, and afraid that no one would be interested in a mystery set in a non-western country. It was the #WeNeedDiverseBooks movement that finally gave me the courage to write.

At the very heart of this book is a more personal story inspired by my family, a family dispersed. I spent nearly half my life living with my siblings in Canada, far away from my parents, far away from my relatives. And so, while I was writing this book, I found myself wrestling with two questions that always haunted me: What will it cost to keep family together when things are falling apart? And where is home when you live far away from those who have loved you for all of your life?

Name 3 authors and 3 books
Little Fires Everywhere, A Grief Observe, Persuasion.

Shveta Thakrar, Diana Urban, Kat Cho

What do you think is the best quality a writer can have?
Perseverance, because the journey to publication is a long one. But also discipline: to work hard on your writing, while also knowing when to step to practice self-care.


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

For those super ambitious folks out there, we sometimes work so hard and put our life on hold, telling ourselves that we’ll begin living again once we “land on the stars.” But if you don’t land on the stars, redefine what it means to be among the stars. Redefine your definition of success. If things aren’t working out, remember there is a whole galaxy out there.


Challenge: Write a one-sentence story!

There was once an author who could write 90k long books, but when asked to write a one sentence story–she stared at her computer screen, and stared, unable to think of a single thing to write.

The Silence of Bones just came out on April 21! A must-read Korean historical thriller!

31 DAYS OF ASIAN AUTHORS, DAY 12: Joanne Machin

Name: Joanne Machin

Website: www.joannemachin.com

Asian background: Chinese-American

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

I didn’t see very many stories in the media related to being an immigrant or being Chinese-American in the United States. I want to see more of these narratives brought up in the books I read, the TV shows and movies I watched, and more. Romance is my favorite genre–so I started there. I’d love to see more Chinese-Americans, and Asian people in general, get their happily-ever-afters!

Name 3 authors and 3 books: 

The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang

Temporary Wife Temptation by Jayci Lee

Faker by Sarah Smith


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

Always being open to learning something new! 

Any last words? 

I’m currently obsessed Animal Crossing: New Horizon, so if anybody wants to be friends… hit me up. 

Challenge: Write a one-sentence story! 

Once I paid off Tom Nook, it was time for him to pay me back. 

31 DAYS OF ASIAN AUTHORS, DAY 11: Shveta Thakrar

Name: Shveta Thakrar

Website: https://www.shvetathakrar.com/

Asian background: 
Indian

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

I’ve always believed in magic, so that’s part of it, and ties neatly into the other reason, which is that I wanted to see my mythology and heritage and people like me as the focus of a fun, magical story for once. From there, I decided I would write Hindu-inspired fantasy—and did.

Name 3 authors and 3 books

1. Anna-Marie McLemore and When the Moon Was Ours

2. June Hur and The Silence of Bones

3. Ciara Smyth and The Falling in Love Montage

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

A deep, compassionate desire to understand the world we live in, so you can then do your best to recreate that truth in your work.

Any last words? (Fun facts, comments, something you’d like to share with the world, etc.)
The background of my website is the absolutely gorgeous illustration Asma Kazi did of the magical Night Market in Star Daughter, and if you look closely, one of the tents says (in Gujarati), “Shveta’s Stories.” So I’m there, too!


Challenge: Write a one-sentence story!

Someone left a pan of freshly baked fudgy brownies on the counter—and then I found it.

I received an ARC of Star Daughter from Edelweiss, and I am currently reading and LOVING how lyrical and beautiful it is while learning more of Hindu mythology! It releases in 3 months on August 11, 2020!

31 DAYS OF ASIAN AUTHORS, DAY 10: Yangsze Choo

Name: Yangsze Choo

Website: https://yschoo.com

Asian background: Originally from Malaysia, I Iived in a number of different countries, including Germany and Japan, while growing up. I now live in California

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

Since we moved so much, I had to adapt to different schools and new people all the time. I always liked to read though, so whenever we got to a new place, I’d make a beeline to the library. Books were my comfort, and I made friends with the librarians and other fellow bookworms.The richness of the library and the sense of a world of stories has always filled me with wonder and excitement.

Name 3 authors and 3 books

Miracle Creek— Angie Kim

Hardboiled Wonderland and the End of the World — Haruki Murakami

The Housekeeper and the Professor — Yoko Ogawa

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

Curiosity and empathy (ok, that’s two qualities!)

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

Dark chocolate is my writing companion (I make multiple trips to the fridge to ensure that I haven’t finished all of my stash!).

Challenge: Write a one-sentence story!

New housemate wanted; must love alligators.

The Ghost Bride is one of my personal favorite novels, and I still need to binge the new Netflix adaptation! (After I re-read it, haha!)

31 DAYS OF ASIAN AUTHORS, DAY 9: Joyce Chng

Name: Joyce Chng

Website: https//awolfstale.wordpress.com

Asian background: I am 3rd generation Singaporean Chinese – my forebears came from Shanghai, Guandong and Fujian to work and settle in Singapore. I am Hokkien (Fujian ren).

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

I see myself as Singaporean Chinese and Southeast Asian. Southeast Asia itself is such a diverse place with rich mythologies and cultures. I am also inspired by Chinese myths and folklore. After studying and living in Australia for 7 years, I became more appreciative of my Chineseness and started writing stories with Chinese or Asian characters.

Name 3 authors and 3 books

Eeleen Lee, Liquid Crystal Nightingale

Zen Cho, Sorcerer to The Crown

J. Yang, the Tensorate series.

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

Tenacity and the refusal to give up.

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

Hi Asian authors and creators, I know this is a difficult period for us. We are hard pressed to create, to produce something. Yet, because it’s such a challenging time, we do not need to blame ourselves for not being able to create or write . Cut yourself some slack, go do something else. It’s OK not to be OK during this time.

Challenge: Write a one-sentence story!

Casting off her chains, she became a dragon and soared into the sky.

31 DAYS OF ASIAN AUTHORS, DAY 8: Ken Liu


Name: Ken Liu

Website: https://kenliu.name

Asian background: American of Chinese descent

What is it about your experience and upbringing that inspired you the most to write?
I grew up in a house full of books shelved haphazardly, with no regard to genre or any other means of classification. As a result, I have very little patience with genre boundaries or labels, and prefer to write stories that defy them.
However, I’ve always gravitated toward stories that literalize some aspect of reality we normally understand as metaphor. This is usually described as the province of magic realism, but I think it taps into some deep feature of how we process reality as human beings. We grasp the abstract by embodying them in tangible metaphors and reify cherished values in stories.


Name 3 authors and 3 books
Tochi Onyebuchi — Riot Baby
Peter Tieryas — United States of Japan
S.L. Huang — Zero Sum Game


What do you think is the best quality a writer can have?
A unique voice and vision, conjuring forth stories no one else could have told.


Any last words? (Fun facts, comments, something you’d like to share with the world, etc.)
Being a slow writer is not a problem. It took me more than a decade to write my first
series, and I couldn’t be happier. Go at your own pace and tell the stories you want to tell.


Challenge: Write a one-sentence story!
Missed Connections: “Unless you return and rescue me from April 30, 2020, I’ll make
sure that your timeline never comes to be.”

The Paper Menagerie is one of my favorite short story collections of all time! Thank you Ken for agreeing to be interviewed and featured today!

31 DAYS OF ASIAN AUTHORS, DAY 7: Lori M. Lee

Name: Lori M. Lee

Website: https://lorimlee.com/

Asian background: Hmong American

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

I wish I had a more exciting answer for this haha. But writing and reading were always an escape for me when I was younger. My real life was kind of a downer, so fantasy books and stories became my refuge. Since I never saw myself in any of those fantastical places I loved so much, I wrote myself into them. Of course, I wrote myself as white because that’s what everything around me told me I should want, and it took years and years to dismantle the self-hatred. But it was definitely during those early years when I really discovered my passion for writing and how much it meant to me. So I guess I’m grateful for that 🙂

Name 3 authors and 3 books

Descendant of the Crane by Joan He

The Girl From Everywhere by Heidi Heilig

Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones.

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

Persistence. Writing for publication means coming up again so many obstacles, and it can really wear you down if you’re not mentally prepared. But the good thing is that publishing is a long game, and if you stick with it, eventually your book will find its readers ❤

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

In addition to being an author, I also wanted to be a paleontologist, a historian, an English college professor, a mermaid, a witch, and a fairy. I still want those last two tbh.

Forest of Souls will be released on June 23, 2020! Look at this beautiful cover!