1. On a scale of one to ten, rank your current level of insanity–where ten is belongs-in-lunatic-asylum insane–and tell us why.
Ah! Having saved these questions for one of my saner periods, I’d say I’m hitting around four right now, which is about as low as it ever gets. My craziest times involve synopses, intransigent characters, and, of course, the days or weeks spent in the depths of the deadline cave.
It’s so dark in there . . . .
2. How did you come to write Only Human in the Lover Beware anthology?
Dark Matter. Or possibly Dark Energy. I blame them for creativity, the Big Bang, and Happy Meals. (Even Dark Matter doesn’t get it right every time.) And what are these Darks, you ask? If the greatest astronomers and physicists of our time don’t know what Dark Matter and Dark Energy are, aside from the fact that our universe contains a helluva lot of both of them . . . well, I can’t be expected to explain them, can I?
Though the plot changed almost entirely when the story became a book instead of a novella, the world it was set in shifted very little. Mostly I was able to peel back some of the layers I’d desperately wanted to explore earlier–layers that wouldn’t fit in the confines of a novella.
4. I’ve read many Chinese characters in books that come off as ‘bananas’, a derogatory term meaning that they are yellow outside and white inside. But yours don’t. What research did you do that you felt helped most?
Oh, a lovely question, as it allows me to brag a bit; I’ve been deeply gratified by the letters I’ve received from Asian Americans–and one from a girl in Singapore who’s never lived in America–telling me I got it right.
The nonfiction book that helped the most was THE CHINESE IN AMERICA by Iris Chang; I’ve also hung out on chat boards for Chinese Americans, read fiction by people like Amy Tan, and surfed ads on various sites. (So much of a culture peeps through in its commercials, doesn’t it?) Other than that . . . well, I’d wanted to write an Asian character for some time, so I’d been paying attention. I didn’t trust myself to try, though, until I had a Chinese American editor–Cindy Hwang, whose feet I kiss (but only metaphorically because, you know . . . yuck.) Anyway, when Lily Yu showed up I asked Cindy to yank me back if I strayed into cliché or inauthenticity.
So far she hasn’t yanked. She has answered questions, explained customs, and helped with Chinese phrases. (In case you’re wondering, Grandmother speaks Mandarin Chinese. She would, wouldn’t she?) So a good deal of the credit for authenticity goes to her.
5. Will you be writing any more Desires? I think the Tall, Dark and Eligible series were the first ever Desires I read.
Thank you! I had intended to keep writing for the line, but Desire veered off in a direction I couldn’t follow. The line’s guidelines now require arrogant, wealthy heros with a sense of entitlement and a strong external plot that doesn’t include suspense or paranormal elements. I can work with a wealthy hero with a touch of arrogance–hello, Rule!–but not the entitlement bit. To me, that means arrogance unencumbered by duty and responsibility. (Your speed may vary.) And no suspense or paranormal? Just not the way my mind works.
6. I saw on your site that you started out writing science fiction. Have any completed manuscripts lying around?
LOL–nothing anyone’s ever going to be allowed to see. Trust me. You don’t want to. I needed to write a couple of really bad books to get the hang of this storytelling stuff. (Or possibly to absorb more Dark Matter . . . or do I mean Dark Energy?)
7. What’s up next for us readers?
The third book in the series, BLOOD LINES (out Jan. 2! Go buy a copy! Heck, buy several!) answers some of the questions left dangling in the first two books. In it, Rule is dealing with the aftereffects of his time in Dis; Lily is trying to keep as much of the world safe as she can; Cullen is pulled away from his dragon hunt; and Cynna is confronted by her past in the form of the teacher who taught her most of what she knows about spellwork . . . and demons. Oh, and Grandmother returns. And Dirty Harry. They’re all needed as demons pop up all over and an ancient prophecy is fulfilled.
Beyond that . . . the book I’m working on now (tentatively titled NIGHT SEASON) will focus on Cynna & Cullen, though Rule & Lily have a role, also. You’ll also get to know Nathan Hunter and Kai Tallman Michalski–characters from a novella due out this September: “Inhuman” in the anthology ON THE PROWL.