Monday, February 25, 2008

[Interview] Ed Lin, Chinese American Writer

Originally appeared at TripmasterMonkey.Com

BASED IN NEW YORK, novelist Ed Lin provides some much need East Coast representation in Asian-American literature, which has skewed westward for so long. Lin is the author of two novels, including "Waylaid" (which director Michael Kang turned into the acclaimed film, "The Motel").

Tripmaster Monkey spoke with him about his latest novel "This is A Bust" (Kaya Press, 352 pages). Set in the slums of New York's Chinatown circa 1976, it's the story of Robert Chow, a messed-up cop who's out to solve a murder mystery. Sounds like a blockbuster to us!

Tripmaster Monkey: So this new book of yours, "This Is A Bust." Why should we buy it?
Ed Lin: Actually, with the attractive cover (photo by Corky Lee, design by Bryan Chez Ong), it's a pretty nice paperweight! The story comes free! Also, it's one of the few books from a Chinese/Taiwanese-American writer with a title that doesn't sound like a restaurant and a story that will change your soul forever.

How long did it take you to write "This Is A Bust"? What was your family saying in the meantime?
EL: I actually started writing this book before I was finished with "Waylaid." It was originally a reaction to the "Waylaid" narrator's anxiety to go out and get laid. "This Is A Bust" was very internal. In fact, the first draft didn't even have any dialogue and it was somewhat dreamlike. Including editing and rewriting, it probably took just over two continuous years. My family wasn't saying anything because I never tell anyone what I'm working on until it's done.

How many cups of coffee did it take to write this book?
EL: I'm a huge coffee addict; I probably drink about 4 to 5 cups of coffee a day and more on the weekends. I'd say I drank about a million ounces.

Do your critics actually "get" this book? Has there been anyone who's been waaaaaaaay off?
EL: Everybody's way off, but some like me more than others!

What's the secret to writing according to Ed Lin?
EL: Don't write every day. I know that all the how-to books about writing say you gotta get in 1,000 words per day, blah blah, but that makes it a rote kinda thing when it should be a "write" kinda thing. (Damn, I'm good!) Write when you're ready.

Who do you want to play you in the Hollywood bio-pic of your life? (Once the writers' strike is over, of course)?
EL: Daniel Dae Kim, Joel de la Fuente, my wife Cindy Cheung and Ken Leung could all play me à la "I'm Not There."

What's your favorite monkey?
EL: Marmosets.

Last question. Amy Tan and Maxine Hong Kingston in a crazy fistfight on top of the Empire State Building: Who would win?
EL: America!

No comments: