Last Updated on June 15, 2023 by BiblioLifestyle
What was the last book that you read that you’d now recommend?
Maddalena and the Dark by Julia Fine.
Have you read any classics lately that you were reading for the first time?
I didn’t read Jesmyn Ward’s Sing, Unburied, Sing until a few years ago even though she had already won the National Book Award TWICE by that point. I was blown away by the novel and read Salvage the Bones immediately after.
Do you re-read books And if yes, what was your last re-read?
I don’t usually reread for leisure because there are so many books on my TBR list, but I do reread if I’m about to teach a book so I can remind myself of craft elements, plot points, etc. The most recent was Mariana Enriquez’s collection Things We Lost in the Fire.
What are your go-to genres?
Literary fiction with magical elements.
What is your favorite childhood book?
I read way too many of those Goosebumps (and later, Fear Street) books when I was young. I still have nightmares sometimes about aspects of those books.
What books are on your bedside table right now?
Victor LaValle’s Lone Women and Yu Miri’s Tokyo Uno Station.
Do you bookmark or dogear your page in a book?
Bookmarks exist for a reason!
What is your ideal reading setting?
I’d like to say something like “my little reading nook with the scented candles and wingback chair,” but the real answer is on my bed, under the covers.
Tell us about your favorite indie bookstore?
There are a few in the Bay Area I love, but my favorite is probably East Bay Booksellers. It’s an airy space, with a nice, tall ceiling and exposed beams. They have a great selection, but it never feels cluttered.
What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?
In many ways, this lesson was forced upon me when my family immigrated to the U.S. I was nine at the time. Watching my parents get disrespected because they didn’t speak English, getting bullied at school because I didn’t either—those were formative experiences.
What literary pilgrimages have you gone on?
I’m embarrassed to say none, unless you count that time I was doing a residency in Paris and a bunch of my friends insisted on going to Bar Hemingway at The Ritz Paris. It was, as you might imagine, very expensive.
Where do you get most of your writing and editing done?
I’d like to say something like “my little study, surrounded by my books and elegant lamps,” but the real answer is on my bed, under the covers.
Does writing energize or exhaust you?
It energizes me! I often finish writing sessions feeling a little jittery from the adrenaline in my body.
How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
Two unpublished books: a novel that should never be published and a short story collection I hope gets published one day.
Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?
No, though every now and then my team will send me a particularly nice one.
If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
You have to write what you’re obsessed with, no matter how weird it might seem. Don’t listen to people who tell you there’s “no market for it.” Writing a novel can take many years—why would you want to devote so much time to something about which you feel only lukewarm?
When you’re not reading or writing, what are you doing?
I try to have a couple of months each year when I’m not actively working on a project. During those months, I travel a lot.
What are your three favorite things right now?
Gochujang (Korean hot sauce), skirts and dresses with pockets, my cat.
What is your favorite travel destination and why?
Taiwan! I grew up there and miss it a lot, so I try to visit once a year.
What’s your favorite meal and go-to drink order?
Literally anything with gochujang on it. Don’t like to eat your greens? Slather it with the sauce. Noodles tasting a bit bland? Problem solved. Favorite drink: winter melon bubble tea.
What six people, living or dead, would you invite to a dinner party?
Lady Murasaki, Josephine Baker, Shirley Jackson, Oscar Wilde, Stagecoach Mary, and Shek Yeung, the historical pirate queen who inspired my novel! Whatever happens, the party will at least be interesting.
If a movie was made of your life, what genre would it be, and who would play you?
It would be surrealist. No idea who would play me.
What’s the last TV show or movie you watched that was really good?
I really liked Our Flag Means Death.
You have to sing karaoke; what song do you pick?
If you were being taken to a deserted island and could only bring one book, what would it be?
This is a very niche answer, but probably Milorad Pavić’s Dictionary of the Khazars. It’s written in the form of a, well, dictionary, so there is no set beginning or end. You can technically read it in any order. I think trying to approach the book a different way each time would bring me enough hours of entertainment until help arrives or until I die from being utterly unable to take care of myself on this island.