Today I’m interviewing Louis Leung, author of “Cody Quan Act I: Broken Faith”. Thank you for taking the time to be interviewed, Louis.
Thanks for doing this for many up-and-coming writers, Leigh. You mean a lot to us. Writers just need people who care about their work. I appreciate you and what you do.
Leigh: Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I’m a born and raised Houstonian, lived in Texas almost all of my life and like everything else I was a late bloomer to writing. Previously, I spent 15+ years as a professional web and graphic designer.
Leigh: What was an early experience in which you realized that language had power?
I’ve always had a knack for talking people into feeling things. It’s a very powerful Jedi mind thing. I believe everyone has a frequency. Language is tuning into that frequency. Words are like golf clubs — different people respond to different usages and tone of words. I used it to escape punishment from the principal’s office as early as first grade. When you know words, you don’t really need muscles or money or even good looks. You have a skill that few people master.
Leigh: What does literary success look like to you?
Like most writers who started out, I thought having a bestseller was “success”. But it’s really the random emails I get from people who said they read my novel on a train and felt something for my book. Whether it’s 1 person or 1 million people, I appreciate every single person who took their time to read my work.
Leigh: Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people might find?
Leigh, every writer is limited to their perception of the world. If you shatter my soul, you’ll find pieces of who I am in every book I write. People who know me well will see a very different meaning in my novels than people who don’t know me personally.
Leigh: Does your family support your career as a writer?
Haha. I’m not a porn star, Leigh. Writing is pretty uncontroversial. I think they’re supportive as a hobby. As a career, my parents want me to stick with a job and don’t put all my eggs in one basket with the writing. Since writing isn’t my main income anyway, I feel no pressure to write a novel that sells. I feel comfortable writing a novel I like. This is the advice I’d give anyone doing this…write without worrying whether or not the world likes it.
Leigh: Why do you write? Do you see writing as a spiritual practice?
Professionally, because I felt I could do it after reading a million novels. There are many better writers than I am, but there are far more who aren’t different in skill level than me. Just like a dance floor, if you see plenty of people who aren’t afraid to jump in, it encourages you to know you’re not going to be the worse if you join them. In other words, fear of failure should not stop anyone from trying to produce creatively.
Personal reasons why I write — I want people to understand me and why I see the world the way I do. I don’t write for myself, I don’t keep diaries.
Leigh: If you could travel back in time and give your younger writing self any writing advice, what would it be?
Understand that most people who are reading my work won’t be people who know me personally. Tone down on the personal messages. Focus on telling a good story by keeping it simple and easy to follow. Also, don’t write with quotas. Give whatever you’re capable of per day. Some days I write 1/2 page, other times I write 6-10. If I feel like doing something else, I’ll do something else. I disagree when most writers say writing is a discipline. I think it’s more about channeling your feelings and writing when you’re in the mood.
Leigh: Who designed your distinctive book covers?
I drew them. I’m going to make it a thing to draw and design all my book covers. I think it’s funny most people can’t draw Asians right. Haha.
Leigh: What is the most recent book you’ve read?
Short Girls by Bich Minh Nguyen. It was sitting on my desk for three years and one day I just picked it up and it blew my mind. Good Asian-American novels are really hard to come by; this one nailed a generation dead on. If you have a chance to read it, I definitely encourage reviewing it. My favorite book of all time though is The Help. I’m not kidding when I tell you I’ve read The Help a dozen times. I practically memorized it. Since I pick it up and look at it at least once a day, technically The Help is always going to be the most recent book I’ve read.
Leigh: I understand you have a new book coming out shortly. What can you tell us about it and when can we expect it?
I tackle on what’s been a huge elephant in the room topic for Asian-Americans the current two generations and that’s second-generation Asians don’t connect with each other anymore. With a big jump in social and sexual independence, Asian-American women have migrated away from the challenges and experiences that Asian-American men go through and neither really understand the other. They experience racism in vastly different ways. I put these complex issues in a very simple romantic satire and I chose New York as a setting. I chose NY because I find that city symbolizes a lot of the degeneration of Asian-American culture. Gentrification is a huge problem there. I find it goes hand in hand with all the Asian women/white male couples you’ll see flooding the restaurants. This story is about a loss of identity and trying to get it back, only to realize it’s evolved. Is this really what the melting pot is? For all the talk about diversity, Americans eventually just become a sea of sameness. New York is proud to be different than other American cities because it doesn’t have Wal-Marts and Chili’s on every block, but it’s starting to go there with the gentrification. One of the questions I ask in this novel is, is this “sameness” necessarily a bad thing? Is it an inevitable thing? And if that’s true, for all the talk about how much Americans love diversity, do our actions indicate it’s a lie? Are we heading into a sea of gray?
Leigh: How can readers find out more about you and your work?
I have two big giant new blog websites coming. I’ll also have plenty of promotional material for the new book, coming out in probably late July or August. I’d like to start a YouTube channel if the leaves blow into that direction. I’m getting rid of the louisleungauthor.com website very soon and replacing it with the two below. The new book will also have its own site.
Leigh: Thank you very much for taking the time out of your busy schedule to take part in this interview.
No problem. You’re awesome, Leigh. 🙂