I'm thrilled to welcome Jamie Ford to Diary of an Eccentric today, and I'd like to thank him for taking time out of his busy schedule to answer some questions. Ford is the author of Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet (which I reviewed here), a story set in Seattle that focuses on Henry Lee, who as a young boy during World War II, witnessed the relocation of Japanese families -- including his best friend and first love, Keiko Okabe -- to internment camps.
What inspired you to write Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet?
It was really the perfect storm of a lot of things, good and bad, beginning when my father died. He was Chinese, but an only child, so when he passed I felt cut off from my Chinese heritage. I was also working in advertising at the time on some truly soul-killing accounts. When that happens I tend to write on the weekends just as a creative outlet, and began kicking around a few story ideas set in Seattle’s Chinatown, circa 1940. And then I skipped my twenty-year high school reunion to attend a writers' conference. It was there that I brought some recent work and met with an editor who thought I had a bright future. Now here I am talking to you…
What do you want readers to take from the book?
I didn't want to write a story that's something for everyone, but rather have it be everything to someone. And that everything is the love story—that some things, and some people, truly are worth waiting for, even at great hardship and personal sacrifice.
Beyond that, I hope people visit Seattle's Chinatown International District. I hope they pick up related books or at least do some googling of the historical aspects of the book, lest we forget.
Are you working on another book? If so, any hints?
I am. Just turned it in to my editor a few weeks ago and am diving into revisions. It's the story of a student conscript who becomes a kamikaze pilot. It's tentatively titled, Whispers of a Thunder God. And oddly enough, it's another love story.
I'm also doing research for a YA (Young Adult) series.
What do you enjoy doing when you're not writing?
Live entertainment—whether it's MMA (mixed martial arts) or theater, I love it all. I'm also a comics geek; currently I'm feeding my manga addiction.
What book are you reading now?
I'm reading an ARC of Juliet by Anne Fortier—an amazing book that'll be coming out later in the year. It's already a huge hit and it's not officially "out there" yet.
What/who are some of your favorite books/authors?
I love Harlan Ellison. He's known for short fiction, but his essays are incredible—they're honest, caustic, painful, self-aggrandizing and self-deprecating at the same time. He's a true self-taught man of letters, the last of a dying breed, I'm afraid.
I'm also a big Sherman Alexie fan. Another writer who's mastered the alchemy of blending truth, humor, and tragedy.
Can you describe your experience getting Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet published? Any advice to aspiring writers hoping to see their work in print?
My publishing journey has been a dream, like a vacation on that 70s show, Fantasy Island—I keep expecting Herve Villechaize to pop up and offer me an umbrella drink.
As far as advice to aspiring writers—Orson Scott Card said it best, "Writers block is your subconscious telling you this sucks." Listen to that inner voice. Learn from it and move on. Keep writing.
Thanks, Jamie! I wish you much success, and I'm looking forward to reading more of your work.
Because the publisher is shipping the book to the winner, this giveaway is open to U.S. and Canada addresses only. This giveaway will be open through Sunday, Jan. 31 at 11:59 EST.
Click here to check out the other stops on the Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet blog tour.