Friday, June 3, 2016

Five Minutes with Jamie Hoang, Author of Blue Sun Yellow Sky

Jorge Luis Borges, the seminal fountain of Magical Realism, has been one of the great literary influences of the 20th century. During the course of his life he was slowly overtaken by blindness. Claude Monet, one of the influential painters associated with French Impressionism, likewise experienced a gradual loss of eyesight. His famous sequence of painted water lilies has impressive historical significance, simultaneously breaking new ground in the arts and reflecting his progressive decline.

Jamie Huang has written a novel about an artist who is overtaken with blindness. In this instance, it is a painter whose blindness is sudden, taking place in a matter of weeks, not years. Something about the premise stimulated me to reach out and learn more.

EN: How did you discover you wanted to be or were a writer?
Jamie Huang: I've always told myself stories in the form of journal writing, and for a while I dabbled in writing articles for sites like TinyBuddha. They were short pieces about the things I'd learned or observed in my life. When one of my articles struck a chord with readers and I started receiving e-mails from strangers thanking me, I decided to take my writing more seriously. On a whim, I quit the two jobs I had and moved to Houston, TX where I spent two years writing Blue Sun, Yellow Sky.

EN: Why are writers different from other people?
JH: Writers have a curiosity in them that sets them apart from others. We want to know about more than the surface level details of emotions, scientific advances, history, the future...just about anything really. I read a quote once that went something like "Writer's write to taste life twice. Once in the moment and in again retrospect." We relish in the experiences we have--good or bad--and we enjoy sharing our stories with others.

EN: How did you begin as a writer once you knew this was the direction you wanted to go?
JH: I tried to write after work and on the weekends, but I was too easily distracted; there was always someone's birthday or a co-worker's retirement party to attend. I'm a social person so it was hard for me to carve out time to write while working. I knew if I was going to take writing seriously, I needed to make a drastic change in my life. This is why I moved to Houston, TX where the only person I knew was my sister. It was hard to leave my jobs knowing I would blow through my savings by the end of this trial writing period, but that same fear got me up early and kept me up late. I knew I wouldn't get a chance like this again.

EN: Where did the idea for Blue Sun, Yellow Sky come from?
JH: I had read an article about a Dutch painter who was going blind and the story struck something in me. I was drawn to the idea of a woman who had worked her whole life to define herself as an artist only to lose her ability to create. How would one cope? The story is ultimately more about redemption than it is about loss, but I suppose it's rare to have one without the other.

EN: What advice do you have for young writers who are just getting started?
JH: Most of writing is rewriting. The process is long and tedious and you're going to feel like it's never ending, but if you take pride in your craft, as I suspect you will, it will serve you best to rewrite some more. Don't worry about how long it's taking you, just focus on producing the best story you can. Also, find a professional editor. Readers hate to be distracted by editorial errors.

EN: Any other questions I should ask so you can share something especially important to you?
JH: If you read a good book let the author know and please share it with your friends! For indie authors especially, I know that every time I get a Tweet or an e-mail from someone who read and loved my book, it inspires me to wake up early and spend my weekends working hard to produce something else they might enjoy!

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Learn more about Jamie at http://heyjamie.com/
Follow her on Twitter where I "met" her @HeyJamie

You only live once. Make a difference.  

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