The Next Big Thing Blog Hop
March 13, 2013 by mayleechai
I’m excited to be joining the writing community’s “blog hop.” This month authors are playing tag–tagging authors’ blogs then having them answer questions about their latest work. The awesome best-selling author Claire LaZebnik
tagged me, so here I go. You’ll see which authors I’m choosing to tag at the bottom of this post. I promise you’ll like their work!
(Note: I first met Claire at the rather interesting Southern California Independent Booksellers’ Association event a few years ago. You can read about my experience here: SCIBA
. While doing publicity for books can feel awkward if you’re shy, I was most fortunate to meet Claire at the authors’ dinner before the big publicity event took place. She was so witty and brilliant and fun to talk to, my anxieties fell away. Since then I’ve been able to catch up on her amazing backlist of both literary novels and Young Adult titles as well as her nonfiction writing about autism. Claire’s books are wise and witty, just like their author! I highly recommend following her fanpage on Facebook to get a taste of her writing advice: Claire LaZebnik Writes.)
Now on to the business at hand: The Next Big Thing Blog Hop. I’m not supposed to talk about the books I’ve already published but the ones I’m working on. So that would be TIGER GIRL, my new novel that’s coming out this October 2013.
1: What is the working title of your work in progress?
2: Where did the idea come from for the book?
It’s a sequel to my novel, Dragon Chica, so it follows the main character, Nea Chhim, on a new adventure. In Tiger Girl, Nea is 19 and decides she must find her biological father where he’s working in Southern California. She doesn’t tell Ma, but hops on a cross-country bus and goes to confront him and find out why he hasn’t acknowledged her. Little does she know, she’s going to uncover many more family secrets than she ever imagined!
3: What genre does your book come under?
It’s cross-listed as Young Adult but also literary fiction for people who like multicultural stories. Nea is a survivor of the Cambodian Killing Fields and there is a lot of history and traditional folklore in Tiger Girl.
4: Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
There aren’t that many Cambodian American actors in Hollywood, so I think Cambodian American singer Laura Tevary Mam would be awesome as Nea. I know Laura and she totally understands the character; plus she’s multi-talented. I think the actor François Chau (who played the mysterious Dharma Collective scientist Dr. Pierre Chang on “Lost”) would be perfect for the father. François was born in Phnom Penh, in fact!
5: What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Nineteen-year-old Nea Chhim, a survivor of the Cambodian Killing Fields, embarks on journey across America to find her biological father.
6: Is your book self-published, published by an independent publisher, or represented by an agency?
My agent represented the book. It’s being published by GemmaMedia of Boston.
7: How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
I had two years to work on the manuscript, but the research began a long time ago when I was working on the novel that became Dragon Chica.
8: What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
I wrote this novel to focus on the American side of the story because most other books about Cambodian Americans focus on how they survived the Khmer Rouge. I wanted to bear witness to the kind of stories that I witnessed with the Cambodian Americans that I met in the U.S.
For books that provide background on the Killing Fields, I recommend the following: To Destroy You Is No Loss: The Odyssey of a Cambodian Family (The Story of Teeda Butt Mam) by Joan D. Criddle, Children of Cambodia’s Killing Fields by Dith Pran and Kim Depaul, Golden Bones by Sichan Siv, First They Killed My Father by Loung Ung, and When Broken Glass Floats by Chanrithy Him.
9: Who or what inspired you to write this book?
I met a very kind Cambodian woman when I was fifteen and living on a farm in South Dakota. She’d survived the Killing Fields, but her children had not. I interviewed her and she told me how her children had died under the Communist regime known as the Khmer Rouge. I promised her that I’d write about what happened to her children, and in many ways, that’s what inspired both Dragon Chica and now the sequel Tiger Girl.
10: What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
It’s a family story, but it’s also very suspenseful, and readers will learn a lot about Cambodian culture!
Now on to the two authors I’m tagging. Walter Mason and Frances Kai-Hwa Wang are not just great writers, but they’re two of my favorite people.
Walter Mason is the author of a lovely book called Destination: Saigon
, which is both travelogue and spiritual journey. Walter not only speaks Vietnamese but has also studied at a university in Vietnam and is a practicing Buddhist. In his book, you’ll meet Vietnamese movie stars, monks, and gangsters among other interesting characters, and go on a journey like no other. His blog can be found here: Walter Mason
While many readers may know Frances Kai-Hwa Wang for her journalism, her activism in the Asian American community, and her columns on multicultural parenting, Frances is also an acclaimed poet. Her first book of poetry, Imaginary Affairs: Postcards from an Imagined Life
, explores erotic longing in a way that is sophisticated and deeply moving. I’ll let her tell you more about her new collection…set in the Hawai’i that the tourists never get to see. You can read her blog here: Frances Kai-Hwa Wang
With Frances in San Francisco’s Chinatown