Sunday, May 11, 2014

Playing Hopscotch

I was invited to take part in this blog hop by a friend whom I’ve never met. Susan Blumberg-Kason is a generously supportive and talented writer who shares my passion for Hong Kong and other Asian cities. Her time in Hong Kong and mainland China is a story with the nail-biting dimensions of a novel, which she tells in her forthcoming memoir Good Chinese Wife  (Sourcebooks, July 29, 2014).

So--here goes--

1) What am I working on?

I have a strange superstition about my work in its early stages, believing that if I talk about it, it will dissolve into mush. All I want to say about what I’m doing now is that I’m having a lot of fun with it and it is taking on a tenuous, optimistic life of its very own.

2) How does my work differ from others in its genre?

 Although my books fall under the category of travel memoir, I’m primarily a storyteller. I travel as an unabashed voyeur, settle into a place, and try to suck as much life out of it as I can. Since I don’t really travel well, preferring to choose one spot to live and write in, I don’t think of my books as travel literature.

3) Why do I write what I do?

I want to give a tiny snapshot of places in the world that other people may be curious about, places that I have fallen in love with. (Maybe at heart I’m really a romance writer!)

4) How does your writing process work?

I write at full tilt for my first draft, getting the shape down on paper quickly without any internal editing. Then I send it to a couple of writers whose opinions I respect and I ask them to be brutal. What’s unclear? What needs to be expanded? What do they think should be cut? The revision process is long and painful and takes much longer than the initial draft. When I can finally read the manuscript without tears or embarrassment, it goes off to a copyeditor and then finally to my publisher at ThingsAsianPress (who will publish my third book, Light and Silence, later this year.)

But enough about me--I'd much rather tell you about one of my oldest friends and favorite writers, Kim Fay, a traveler, a culinary explorer, creator of a travel guide series, and a novelist. Her debut novel, The Map of Lost Memories (Ballantine Books, 2012) was a finalist for the Edgar Award for best first novel of the year. I know she has a wonderful book to talk about and she will--on May 20th. Look for it on Literate in L.A. Can't wait!