Hello Hello Hello! It's Saturday and Author Spotlight time! Today I have Mr. Atom Yang here! He's written two wonderful books called Red Envelope, and Herc& Pyotr. We're going to talk to him about those books, his career as an author, and one lucky person will win BOTH books! It's all so exciting. So let's not keep you waiting.
The Lunar New Year is the biggest holiday in the Chinese calendar, a time for family reunions, and for saying goodbye to the past and hello to the future. Clint, however, doesn’t want to bid farewell to what happened after last year’s celebration, when he and his Cousin Maggie’s handsome Caucasian friend, Weaver, shared an unexpected but long-desired passionate encounter. East is East and West is West, and Weaver seems to want to keep it that way, but maybe Clint can bridge that great divide this coming New Year, and show Weaver what it means to be loved and accepted.
Growing up, I lived two lives.
In one life, I watched the same programs and played the same video games as the other kids in my neighborhood. We skated, made friends, got into fights, and did most of our homework. My name was Clint, and I was named after Clint Eastwood because my maternal grandfather loved the TV show, Rawhide, cowboys, and the Wild West (despite how the Chinese were treated during that time and place) and wanted me to have a real American name. I’m grateful they didn’t pick Rowdy.
In my other life, I went to Chinese school on Sundays where my teachers called me by my Chinese name, and I got extra homework on how to be more Chinese. I had to learn to read and write in a language I rarely saw in my daily life, although I spoke and heard it every day from my parents. It was a bummer, but I suppose it made me realize how much being Chinese was about doing Chinese things, and how much being American for me was about doing twice as many things, and being who you are was about doing one thing: staying true to yourself.
Once I understood that, I didn’t live two lives anymore. I lived one.
Herc thought he had the perfect life: a great partner and a meaningful career as a psychotherapist—until his partner left him a week ago and Herc became too depressed to see his clients. When a random meteorite punched a tidy hole in his car’s engine, it seemed like the world had it in for him, but bumping into Pyotr, the handsome older man who’s moved in a couple of doors down and happens to study things like falling stars, things might be looking up for Herc—and more may be falling than the skies in this light-hearted, apocalyptic romance.
I took care of my car.
Regular maintenance, oil changes, carwashes--the works. I figured I'd sell it one day, and I didn't want it to have a scratch or a sticker to drop its value, let alone anything wrong mechanically. Everything worked on it--the power windows, radio, CD player...until today.
"Great," I said, staring at the fist-sized hole in the hood. I clicked my key fob and turned off the alarm. A few of the neighbors came out and turned off their car alarms, too, that had been set off by the very loud boom that shook all of our windows early this spring morning.
"Jeez, Herc, what happened?" Nestori, my friend and neighbor down the way, stood there with his blond bed head, rubbing the sleep from his eyes. He wore a rumpled white tee, sweatpants, and socks--we were dressed alike except I had slippers. Maybe I appeared as lost as he did. Or worse, since I hadn't changed my clothes since the beginning of the week.
"I don't know." I gawked at the smoking hole. "Lightning?" I pieced together the evidence I had, and only came up with a timeline that started with a crash, followed by my car alarm, then a couple of minutes later the aforementioned boom, and finally the other cars being triggered. "A frozen turd from an airplane?"
Thank you, Atom, for being here today. I’m so happy to get a chance to talk with you and get to know you a little better. I’m going to ask you some questions and by the time we’re done we will all know what makes you tick.
First, let’s talk about the man behind the laptop. What made you decide you were going to write books and what motivates you to keep at it?
Thanks for having me, Meredith! I have two answers for the first part of your question. First, I decided I wanted to write books when I was a kid and thought, BOOKS ARE AWESOME. I wanted to give readers the same sense of wonder, romance, adventure, and comfort that I received when I read great books. When I was twelve, I also came across Alan Moore’s SAGA OF THE SWAMP THING run, and that cemented my desire to write books. The second part of my answer has to do with falling in love—I had actually stepped away from writing fiction for about ten years, and after I fell in love (it was love-at-first-sight) with my partner and moved in with him, I found this desire to write books again, specifically romance.
What motivates me to keep writing has been the stories themselves that I want to tell, and also the encouragement, support, and enthusiasm of my partner, family, friends, and readers—most of all, it’s the readers who keep me motivated. They’re the most important part of writing for me. To paraphrase Sandra Bernhard, without them, I’m nothing.
“Red Envelope” and Herc & Pyotr are your two published works. They are totally different books. Do you see yourself as an eclectic writer and can we expect a lot of diversity from you?
Oh, that’s a good question! Yes, I see myself as an eclectic writer, and I also see myself as a versatile writer. (“Red Envelope” and Herc & Pyotr are definitely different, but I consider them both as contemporary romances with different backdrops—one is an annual cultural celebration, the other is a cataclysmic, natural disaster.)
I’m eclectic because I bring different elements to bear on my stories. I pull from romantic comedies, literature, pop music, geek culture, science fiction, movies, and personal experiences that include my experience growing up in the US as a gay, Asian man.
In terms of being versatile, I love exploring other genres and their possibilities. Even though my focus is on contemporary romance, and I want my audience to be able to rely on me for specific kinds of stories, I don’t want to be stereotyped, so yes, readers can expect diverse novels—at least, until I find my niche. My writing schedule may make it difficult for people wanting to read a contemporary when my next book out is paranormal, or vice versa, but I’ll apologize in advance that I can only write so fast and currently, only one book at a time.
You’re named after a Japanese manga character. Are you a fan of the comics or does your love for it end with your name?
I’m a huge comics geek! There are so many wonderful stories out there in comics form that people don’t read because they think it’s for kids or something, and really, comics are a medium like film, TV, or books. You can tell stories for adults, teens, and children. I love comics from all over the world.
Does your upbringing translate into your writing?
Absolutely! My stories are a form of lucid dreaming, where I put my psyche into a narrative, and that psyche is composed of cultural, psychological, and biological experiences. Growing up Chinese in the States, and raised as an immigrant by my parents, I write from an almost foreign point of view, and add onto that my sexual orientation? But I think anybody who’s ever felt awkward or out of place will understand where I’m coming from. On a practical level, I have difficulty with English colloquialisms sometimes. It took me forever to say “I want in” after reading it in Garfield before I didn’t feel like I was speaking incorrectly—I always thought you had to say, “I want to come in.”
If you could co-author a book with anyone who would you love to work with?
I would love to work with an author who was easy-going when it came to their writing. I have favorite authors and authors who are friends whose work I also love, but when it comes down to it, co-authoring is about compatibility of work style more than it is of writing style.
However, I don’t want to sound like I’m stalling (I am) or evasive (I won’t be). If the following authors could tolerate me and my writing, I would want to co-author with Madeline L’Engle (okay, she’s dead, I’m cheating, but I’m making a point), Judy Blume, Jeannette Winterson, Alan Moore, Haruki Murakami, Chuck Palahniuk, Alexa Land, David Sedaris, Charlie Cochet, Poppy Z. Brite (Billy Martin), Karen Stivali, C.B. Lee, N.M. Pratt, and a reader I know who seriously needs to write. Oh, and Brandon Witt, but he has to send me pictures of himself in the bath while we’re working, or he can set up a webcam. I’m not picky.
As I continue to read in this genre, I’m sure I could come up with other names, but I’m severely limited in my choices because I’m just starting out. (No, really.) Plus, I hope nobody out there thinks this is a veiled cry for help because seriously, I’d probably be a nightmare to work with—I’m very solitary and stubborn when it comes to writing.
Will you be attending any conferences or conventions this year or next year?
I don’t have any set plans as of yet. I’m considering GRL, but my first responsibility is getting my books written so readers will have something to enjoy, so conferences and conventions may have to take a backseat this year until my books are out and I can take a breath.
What are some of your favorite books you’ve read?
My favorite books are A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle, Lost Souls by Poppy Z. Brite (Billy Martin), Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World by Haruki Murakami, Alan Moore’s run on Saga of the Swamp Thing, Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris, and The Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff. Recent favorites include Hell & High Water by Charlie Cochet, Coming Home by Alexa Land, Then the Stars Fall by Brandon Witt, Trained by N.M. Pratt, and Tonight by Karen Stivali. I have some soon-to-be favorites waiting for me in my to-read pile.
Can you tell us what you are currently working on?
I know I said I’m focusing on contemporary romances, but because I can only write so fast and prefer at this point to write one book at a time, I have in my writing schedule to finish first an erotic, paranormal romance featuring three (male) witches in a poly relationship. Next on my calendar is a story about cowboys and vampires (or vampire cowboys), and after that is a contemporary featuring a restaurant (I love food). I also have percolating a story that’s paranormal, but I don’t want to say too much about it. After these stories are written, my main focus will be contemporary unless my audience tells me otherwise.
How can people follow you in social media?
Website: http://AtomYang.com (Facebook author page)
Okay now for the Fast Fire Questions:
What’s the last thing you drank?
Day or night?
Last person to text you?
Last song you listened to?
The theme song to The Poseidon Adventure, which influenced the writing of my book, Herc & Pyotr. It’s sung by Maureen McGovern and is called, “The Morning After.”
First thing you do when you wake up?
Say hi to my partner and tell him I love him.
What’s your guilty pleasure?
I don’t usually consider pleasure guilty, but since I need to watch my triglycerides, I would say frozen yogurt or ice cream, and because I’ve been reducing my consumption of mammals, a good steak.
Thank you, Atom, for being here. It’s been awesome!
The pleasure’s been all mine! Great questions. I squirmed, I spilled, a good time was had by all.
Atom was born to Chinese immigrant parents who thought it'd be a hoot to raise him as an immigrant, too--so he grew up estranged in a familiar land, which gives him an interesting perspective. He's named after a Japanese manga (comic book) character, in case you were wondering.
Website: http://AtomYang.com (Facebook author page)
Atom is going to gift one person 2 ebooks! Red Envelope and Herc & Pyotr
Simply fill out the rafflecopter below. Contest will end April 22nd. Winner
will be contacted via email so please check your spam.
Biig thank you to Atom for being so talented and sharing that with us.