Can you believe how fast 2015 is disappearing? May kinda snuck up on me, but hey I’m (mostly) prepared, lol – and I’ve got something a little different for you this month. As May is National Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month, I decided to try and feature different authors of Asian heritage.
With that, I’m so very honored to welcome Cindy Pon, fabulous author of Asian-based young adult fantasy. Read on!
drey: Hello Cindy! Welcome to drey’s library, and thank you for taking the time to visit!
Cindy: Thank you, Drey! It is wonderful to be here.
drey: Let’s start with an introduction – who is Cindy Pon, in ten sentences or less?
Cindy: I’m a Chinese American author who writes young adult fantasies inspired by ancient China. Lover of Taiwanese food, travel, bad reality (and some good!) television, reading and watching movies in the theatre. I am a co-founder to Diversity in YA (since 2011) [diversityinya.com] with the rad Malinda Lo, and am honored to be part of the advisory board for We Need Diverse Books [diversebooks.org]. I’ve been a student of Chinese brush painting for over a decade.
drey: Have you always wanted to be a writer? If not, when did you discover this is what you’re meant to do?
Cindy: I began with journaling in 6th grade (encouraged by my maternal grandfather, who was an editor and essayist), then moved into poetry, and finally short stories when I was fourteen. Although I loved writing (and reading), I never considered at all being a writer as my career. It never even occured to me. I stopped writing throughout my twenties, and didn’t return to it until my thirties. I decided to try and publish Silver Phoenix (the first novel I’d written) after I had finished the book. I had worked so hard on it, and was proud. I thought, why not?
drey: What was the first story you wrote? What happened to it?
Cindy: It was about a young woman making a confession to a priest about the lover she had lost. It was awful and melodramatic. I think it might have placed for a high school district wide short story contest? ha!
drey: Your debut novel SILVER PHOENIX features a 17-year-old Chinese heroine in a story set in ancient China. What was the inspiration for the story, setting, and Ai Ling’s character?
Cindy: Fantasy has always been a favorite genre of mine. When I began writing Silver Phoenix, I had just started as a Chinese brush student too. I thought, why aren’t there any Asian inspired fantasies out there? So I decided to combine these two interests and loves, and that was the impetus for the novel. Ai Ling does share some of my characteristics. It was the first novel I’d written, and it’s easy to use yourself as a source. Two main things are Ai Ling’s love for food and that she is also a student of the brush, so it allowed me to write the things I see and observe as an artist into her point of view.
drey: You’ve been very supportive of the We Need Diverse Books movement. What in your opinion, is the number one reason readers should demand more diversity in their reading material?
Cindy: That a reader’s world would be closed, boring, and unreflective of our wonderfully rich and diverse world if s/he didn’t read more broadly.
drey: And what, in your opinion, is the biggest obstacle to better representation in our reading selection?
Cindy: I can’t speak to one big obstacle, I think the problems are entrenched and systemic.
drey: Now for some fun – Your favorite characters face off in the ring. Who are they, who wins, and why? (Yes, this is pretty open-ended!)
Cindy: I’ll say two thieves that I love: Gen from Megan Whalen Turner’s The Queen’s Thief series, and Han from Cinda Williams Chima’s Seven Realms series. I think that Gen would win in the end, because he has no issues playing dirty.
drey: If you could meet any one person, who would it be and why?
Cindy: Ursula Le Guin, because she is one of my favorite authors, and I regret not having met her yet. She’s getting older, and not doing as many public appearances, so I haven’t had any opportunies!
drey: What can we look forward to next?
Cindy: Serpentine is out with Month9Books on September 8th this year. I’m very excited for readers to read this novel! It is another story set in the Kingdom of Xia, but with entirely different characters. Here is a brief synopsis: Chronicles the tension and struggle among mortals, demons, and gods in the Kingdom of Xia as it tells the story of Skybright, a handmaid, who worries about her growing otherness upon her discovery that she’s half demon. She strives to keep her horrifying secret from the two people she cares about the most, her mistress Zhen Ni, whom she loves like a sister, and Kai Sen, the young man she has just met, trained his entire life to kill demons. The gates of the underworld are breached during Ghost Festival as monstrosities barge into the mortal realm to slaughter innocent people. Half mortal and half demon, whose side is Skybright on?
Thank you so much for doing this Q&A for us, Cindy!
Y’all, who are some of the Asian authors you’ve read? What do they write?