Writing is a solitary journey, until the book is published. It is at once terrifying and exciting to meet the readers. Being interviewed is a true privilege. I especially treasured these interchanges when the interviewer discovered something I didn’t know about my stories and characters. For this reason I listed these interviews to be my favorite. I will add to this list!
Kaitlin Solimine is an accomplished fiction author and East Asian studies scholar. In this interview, she asked me about the role family plays within wider sociocultural forces. My fictional family lived during a time of momentous changes in China and the U.S. I reverse engineered the stories to piece together the world and social mores: some of it (materialism) became reality, while others (feminism) are still a work-in-progress. Most importantly, there are dreams (democracy) deferred.
Mitzi Rapkin is an insightful and generous reader. She asked me whether the elder sister in “Dream Lover” might have an affair if Xu tried. I hadn’t thought about this scenario until she mentioned it. So Xu does an honorable deed by rejecting her, although he looks down on her as being undesirable, even as a mistress. The double standard can work in the woman’s favor and keeps her from making a big mistake!
I have learned much from Scott Kent Jones’s podcast Give and Take, which helps me make sense of the current volatile political environment. When it was my turn, I had an “unbridled” conversation with my host and forwent my motto “Don’t air dirty linen in public” about the Chinese people and culture. I usually don’t tell the whole truth about people’s shortcomings and instead satirize them in fiction. I surprised myself in that interview, which was truly “Give and Take.” Have a listen.
Writer’s Bone is a wonderful podcast featuring a diverse group of writers. Hosts Daniel Ford and Sean Tuohy are writers and staunch supporters of their peers. Daniel called me “an old soul,” which is a high compliment. I answered with my mission statement and vision, because seriously, few people would have cared. Readers want the words on the page. In a way the author’s intention doesn’t matter. Still, that is the reason those words are on the page. Thank you, Daniel, for letting me say it!
Lastly, my TV interview with Jiayu Jeng at KTSF Channel 26. Okay, I spent more time getting dolled up. Jiayu is a beautiful, caring, and witty journalist. I translated my English interviews into Mandarin and practiced speaking them fluently. I also worried about my mother hearing me say things she doesn’t like. But when it aired, I realized I spoke appropriately. This proves that my internal censorship is alive and well, despite that I have lived in the U.S. for 28 years, much longer than I had lived in China. I chose to write in English to lose my internal censorship.
This blog is an ode to the literary community that supports writers in their lonely endeavors. Thank you, everyone, for reading, empathizing, and challenging the writers!