Monday, October 18, 2010

No doubt about it, she's Asian

The cover for Malinda Lo's upcoming novel, Huntress, has just been revealed.  Her publisher, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers did her, and her work, right.  This is no is-she-or-isn't-she-Asian? person on her cover.  This person is unapologetically, 100% bonafide Asian.  After all the recent controversy about POC and book covers, this is a refreshing change.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Booklist Top 10 First Novels

Crossing was selected by Booklist magazine as a Top 10 First Novel for 2010.  I'm truly honored; when I look at the list and see, among others, Amy Greene's Bloodroot and Heidi Durrow's The Girl Who Fell From The Sky, I can barely believe I'm in such esteemed company.  Check out the complete Top 10 here.

Booklist also interviewed me for the October 15, 2010 issue.  It's here.

I'm also particularly happy for Paul Yoon who was selected as a 5 Under 35 Fiction.  His collection of short stories in Once the Shore was one of my favorite reads this year.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Weirdest Craigslist listing

Ever since I put my name on Google Alert, I've been getting some pretty strange alerts.  I don't think anything tops this one though, recently on Craigslist.  Apparently, two people had a James-Blunt-You're-Beautiful moment on the subway...around Crossing. Weirdness.  Here's the Craigslist post in full:
On the Brooklyn-Bound N Train (Monday or Tuesday), you were reading "Crossing" by Andrew Xia Fukuda. You stood by the train doors during the first part of your ride. The seat I was in faced you. We were gently admiring each other. When a seat opened up next to me, you sat there. This pleased me. I was curious about the book you were reading. It seemed you held the book up so that I could read the back of it. Then you opened the book wide enough for me to see and you moved a little closer. I read with you during the remainder of my ride. Thank you. I would like to see you again.

You: Asian. (I cannot guess where you are from. You are beautiful, nonetheless.)
Me: Brown-skinned female with curly hair. (I, regrettably, got off at Canal Street.)

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

photo recap of the Hong Kong Book Fair

It was a flurry of activity over the few days I was there, filled with books, food, books, food, books...  it was the best of times.  Here's a brief photo recap:

Day/Night view from my hotel room:

Interview with NHK World:

Interview with the South China Morning Post and the Monocle Magazine:

I was featured in Time Out Hong Kong magazine:








The venue for my presentation at the Book Fair was classy.

Before the presentation, the moderator (Peter Gordon) and I discussed a game plan; in the VIP room collecting my thoughts.

Book signing afterward.

Two souvenirs from the presentation:

The Book Fair was like nothing I'd been to before: one week, thousands of books, 920,000 visitors:

I squeezed in a radio interview on the Morning Brew at RTHK (listen here):





And last, but certainly not least, the food in Hong Kong!  Oh, how I miss the incredible food:

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

a timeout in hong kong

In Hong Kong.  Jet-lagged.  But had a great time late last night:  checked in to hotel, quick video interview with NHK, strolled around Tsim Sha Tsui, and ate a fab bowl of soup noodles.  Then grabbed a copy of TimeOut Hong Kong magazine from a street vendor and found the piece they did on me  (forgive the poor quality of the photo, a blackberry was all we had).  I was so ecstatic about seeing my mug in the mag that I pointed it out to the vendor.  He didn't get it, not even after I kept pointing at myself.  But he did give me his toothless smile, strangely charming.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Hong Kong Book Fair

Some weeks ago, I was invited to the Hong Kong Book Fair as one of their international authors.  I jumped at the opportunity: nearly a million visitors attend this mega-event, I'd have a chance to rub shoulders with fellow-invitees Frederick Forsyth, Stephen Fry and Andrew Roberts, and it's in Hong Kong, my beloved city I grew up in.

The Hong Kong Book Fair organizers recently interviewed me regarding my upcoming visit.  Here it is.

Monday, June 7, 2010

a great time was had by all!

Flushing library asked me to do an event for their Teen Author Talk series, so this past Saturday I had the pleasure of going down to their library.  I was expecting a low turnout (like 2), but I was surprised to see about 20 teens there.  I loved every minute I spent there.  These were teens who were there because they wanted to be there - nobody forced them, nobody even asked them.  Fact is, they could have been home playing on their PS3 or Wii or on Facebook or any number of non-literary activities.  But they were there on their own.  And they were simply thrilled to listen to me! It was such a pleasure to be in their company, and to speak to them about the joys of reading, writing, and Crossing. Really, I was preaching to the choir.

It was such a wonderful time of back-and-forth discussion and sharing, I couldn't have asked for a better time.  A few of them had already read Crossing and hearing their thoughts and impressions of the book was priceless.  When one girl told me (shyly, eyes turned down) that she was so moved by the book that it had made her cry, it was the perfect kind of compliment.

An hour and a half breezed by in no time.  I was such a fan of these youth who so love books and seemed so interested in Crossing that I couldn't help but just give away all the copies of the book I had on me.  Check out the photos below, low res, but hi fun.  Favorite book event so far!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Starred Review from Booklist!

I've known about this for awhile, but today it went public so I can share this great news with you.  Crossing received a Starred Review from Booklist!  As I've been telling some people, before I felt lucky to get published, but now I feel legit.  Surprisingly, Booklist put it under the Adult category as opposed to the Young Adult category.  Anyway, here's the review:
It’s freshman year for Kris Xu. But those annual fantasies of remaking himself from the quiet Chinese kid with the voice that is “Jackie Chan cumbersome” are dashed when the usual indignities resume: bullying, racism, and underestimation. Even his best friend and secret crush, Naomi—the only other Chinese student—seems to be pulling away. Then two things happen: he stumbles into an audition for the school musical and finds the glorious voice he thought he left in China, and other students start showing up dead. Although it has the plot outline of a thriller, this semifinalist in Amazon’s Breakthrough Novel Contest has the careful language and fine observations of a book with much more on its mind. Wrapped up ever more tightly in the plot is Kris’ sense of racial and emotional identity, and his battle with self-loathing begins to test his reliability as a narrator. Even his name is a feint; those who know him call him Xing—but who really knows him? There are a handful of suspects to the increasingly grisly crimes, and though the ultimate revelations are a tad rushed, they contain enough heartbreaking truths to deliver a significant punch. Sad, elegant, and creepy, this is a deft debut.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

book launch

I recently attended my first-ever book-signing.  It also happened to be for Crossing, my debut novel!  Being the first book signing I'd ever been to, I went in a little blind, not sure what to say or do.  My plan was to keep it casual and as engaging as possible.  The audience - made up of friends from every arena of my life - was very supportive and encouraging.  The book store, Book Revue, were amazing and gracious hosts - they usually host celebrities, so I really appreciate their helping out the little guy in my case.  Here are some photos, taken by photographer extraordinaire Justin Ong ( who took all the author shots on this website (he also does weddings, portraits, etc.):

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

book trailer!

It was an exciting first day.  I must have checked my Amazon sales rank about 25 times.  It's a little sad how it can obsess a person, these numbers.  Anyway, some nice reviews came out in the blogosphere (and a scalding critique on my Amazon page - sheesh, what is it with some people), and it's always enjoyable to read how others got something valuable out of the book.

And my publisher sent me an email late last night to let me know the book trailer has come out.  Break out your popcorn, folks! 

Monday, April 26, 2010

CROSSING is born

Tossed and turned last night in excitement and anticipation.  Checked to see if my Amazon sales rank had jumped since the last time I'd checked (ten minutes previously), as if anyone would buy a book at 3 am.

When it was close enough to dawn, I jumped out of bed.  There was something I could do, I realized.  I bought the Kindle version.  Within seconds, I was reading it.  It was neat to see Crossing and my name right there on the Kindle, right down to the chapter markers.

That's the thing about having your book released in paperback and Kindle format.  It's like you're giving birth to twins.  Fraternal twins.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Arc de Triomphe

Monday was one of those pinch-me days.  My ARCs arrived.  An ARC (Advance Reader Copy) is what publishers send out to media outlets in the  months leading up to publication in the hopes of snagging reviews, interviews, etc.  The ARC is basically the book itself, without the final edits and with the words Advance Reader's Copy - Uncorrected Proof emblazoned on the front cover.

So I tore open the box like a kid on Christmas morning and this is what I saw:

I went into a delirium for a few minutes.  Caught myself stroking it Gollum-like, whispering My Precious, my Precious...  The colors on the cover, especially on the edges, were a little darker than expected, which I liked: it captured the sense of ominous and impending danger well.

I showed it to my oldest son who asked if there were any pictures inside.  Hiding his disappoint when I told him there were none, he took the book into his hands.  What impressed him the most wasn't the cover design, or even my author photo inside, but was - strangely - how it smelled.  He kept rubbing his nose on the cover, inside the book, sniffing hard.  He liked the smell.  Now I know why I wrote the book.

But what a feeling to be finally holding the book in my hands!  The visceral physicality of it.  So I did what came most natural.  I turned to the first page and started reading.  Hours later, I was still at it.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010


Over the past few weeks, I've been letting family, friends, and work colleagues know about the upcoming release date of Crossing.  Most people - after getting over their initial surprise (few had any inkling I've been working on a novel) - have expressed genuine happiness for me, and their sincerity shows in their eyes.  Their encouragement and enthusiasm for the book has been awesome and humbling.  They've asked, for example, what is the best way to buy the book (online or in-store purchase) so as to "help my career as an author."  They've asked about the plot, the editorial process, the cover design; their curiosity and interest in the book move me deeply.

It's also been an awesome way to reconnect with college buddies.  Facebook is great for reconnecting, but most of my previous interactions with college friends have been limited to clicking the "like" button, or writing "cute kids!" to photos.  With the Crossing's imminent publication, however, there's been communication at a deeper level with these college friends, many of whom I haven't seen or really even spoken with for over a decade.  That's been an unexpected benefit to Crossing's publication.

One of the things I've realized in speaking/writing with a few of them is just how far back my dream of authoring a novel goes.  I thought that dream was something that began post-college, but apparently a few of them remember how even back in my college days I had talked about it.  How I used to tap away on my Macintosh Classic, punching out stories.  And suddenly memories have come back: my freshman roommate reading my short story, liking it so much that he passed it around among our circle of friends; the affirming look my creative writing professor gave me after he finished reading aloud one of my short stories to the class; being intoxicated in my Hemingway class by the austere beauty of his literary craftsmanship.

It goes back so far.  Probably even further back if I really think about it.  Maybe that's why April 27, 2010, feels like the culmination of something almost four decades in the making.  A destination of sorts after a long journey.  Or a way station.  And why I find myself waking up an hour early each morning, my heart thumping with excitement.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Children of Invention

I came across a trailer for a movie called Children of Invention that has won a ton of awards, and was featured at the Sundance Film Festival. It's really seems to capture a certain mood and tempo about immigrant life that comes across as authentic. I'm hoping that the movie is as good as the trailer indicates. Something tells me that it will be.

And here's a wonderful clip from the movie:

CHILDREN OF INVENTION HD clip - "Pyramid Scheme Party" from Children of Invention on Vimeo.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

it takes a village

I used to think writing a book was a solitary journey.  And I still believe that, because no matter how large your writing/support group may be, in the end it's still just you putting down your own words.  Often alone in the dark of the night, scribbling or typing away while the rest of the family lies sound asleep.

But one thing I've never fully realized is how it takes a village to publish a book.  The moment I signed with AmazonEncore, my editor immediately pushed a button.  A team of experts immediately descended upon my work, each member specifically assigned to a niche role.  And what a team they've been.  I've heard horror stories from other authors who've experienced road blocks, fading interest, unreturned phone calls or emails, horrible title changes, and vomit-inducing cover designs they had no say in.  And these were with top-name publishing houses.  Not so with AmazonEncore.  They've been professional to the T, yet personable as Oprah between takes.

There's my copy editor, for example.  Not only tightened my language but also found some subtle time discrepancies and factual inconsistencies.  Here's one small example: in one scene, I described how two characters (who work in a food court) went to bed early on a particular night.  My copy editor jumped in: food courts typically close at 9 p.m. on weekends, so after clean-up and the commute home, the two characters would not have been home soon enough to turn in so early.  That's a great catch.  Not a big deal to the overall plot and it was an easy fix, but it gave me a lot of assurance that my book was being so thoroughly vetted for the big time.

Then there's the cover design.  Let me just say this: there are certain milestones in an author's career, and getting the cover design to your debut novel is one of them.  A heart-thumping one.  In my case, my editor sent me not just one, but three design concepts.  Two of them blew me away.  There's a story in how I ended up with the final cover (and I'll blog about it one day), but let me just say this: AmazonEncore pulled me in early on and made sure that I was an integral part of that process.  They respected my input ("please, no faux-Chinese fonts and dragons") and the design team did an incredible job.  The cover is totally amazing; not only is it aesthetically pleasing, but it also captures the ambiance of the novel perfectly.

The marketing team has been likewise top-notch.  The publicity aspect of this business is one I know next to nothing about.  Left to me, I'd probably craft a signboard and walk up and down Main Street in a costume.  But my publicists - seasoned experts with great contacts - have been great in explaining the process, working behind the scenes, and doing an awesome job in getting word of this novel out there.  ARCs are now landing in the hands of media bigwigs all around the country.  There's a lot of work for me as well, but at least I'm working with direction and not like a headless chicken.  And pre-publication buzz is building by the week, enough to keep me awake at night.  So exciting.

I could go on, easily.  There are so many more people to mention, I'm realizing that this will probably become a blog series.  Is that advisable, to have a blog series on one topic?  I don't know.  I'll have to ask Sarah or Terry or Julie or . . .

Because one thing I do know: it takes a village.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

my first sale!

For the past few days, I've been watching my Amazon sales rank (for the paperback) go from roughly 600,000 (yes, there are 5 zeros in there) to a mind-staggering, truly-humbling 1,587,465.  Yes, as in over one million five hundred thousand.  Who knew there were that many books out there for sale?  I tell myself not to get caught up in the numbers, I just went public with this after all, and we're still 3 months away from the release date.  But still...1.5 million?

Well, I just checked my depressing numbers, and suddenly I've leap-frogged to a sales rank of 130,595.  Somebody pre-ordered my book!  Maybe more than just one.  Whoever you may be, you just made my day.  The nightmare scenario of being the first person in publishing history to not sell a single officially over.

And now I feel like a bonafide author.

So whoever you may be, thank you, thank you, thank you!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

breaking the news

Even though I've gone public in the sense that this website has gone up, I've actually only told a handful of people.  Mostly family and, because "I had to," my superiors at work.  Since so few people know about the book, this website is secreted somewhere in an obscure nook in cyberspace.  I'll probably go public and proactively inform friends, colleagues, and acquaintances sometime next week.  Truth is, my natural inclination is to actually wait until the day of publication and say something like: "hey, please buy my book, it's on sale now."  But I can already see the disapproving look on my publicist's face as she somberly shakes her head.  She wants build-up, she wants momentum before the release date.  She wants news of it to break out now.  Yesterday.  She even set up - without my knowledge! - a Facebook fansite.  What can I say?  She's the perfect publicist.

Truth is, I'm chomping at the bit to let people know.  I think this must be how expectant women feel just before they let the world know (at the 3 month mark?).  I can imagine how they feel: elated, bristling with the anticipation of letting friends know, the sharing of joy, the joy of sharing.  (And a chance to explain the extra poundage and perhaps gloominess from morning sickness).

I feel like that.  Except I've been pregnant with this baby for a decade.  It's been a baby that has kicked me hard at times, filled me with seasons of self-doubt and despair, only to be followed by seasons that percolated with creative energy.  Then back to despair.  Solitary nights slogging away in front of the monitor, days of frustration when whole chapters are trashed, the piles of rejections letters, the close calls that ended in 11th-hour rejections.  And all finally leading up to that moment last year, when I received that magical phone call ("Hello, is Andrew there?  I'd like to talk to you about your novel...").  And that's when the water broke.

And so when I make the announcement next week, it's going to be with a parent's pride and joy...

Sunday, January 31, 2010

hello world, it's me

Well, I finally have my author website up and running.  My publicist has reminded me the importance of having a web presence, and it's always been in the back of my mind to do one.  I had a choice: go high-end, put down the mullahs, and get a top-notch designer to work on it, or rely on a more grounded, simple self-designed one without sacrificing a certain level of elegance.

There are plenty of stunning author websites out there, even for debut novelists, so I felt a little pressure to go that route.  In the end, though, I decided to try my own hand especially after seeing Amy Greene's website.  Although she's the incredible author of Bloodroot, published by Knopf, and currently getting all the media attention, her website is glitz-free.  I like that.  It seems more than just homespun; it seems somehow earnest and sincere.  Me likes that.

But now, having sacrificed a few sleepless nights designing this site, is there anyone out there reading these words?  In all likelihood, no.  But I write to prime the pump, to warm up for the day when readership to this blog will be more substantial, to just get the legs stretched and ready.  I'm ready, world.  You listening?