I’m sooo hungry….
I am sitting here waiting for my lunch to arrive. Yes, I have found the one deli in LA that delivers!! YESSSS.
And I can’t concentrate on my book because I am too hungry to write. So I thought I would blog…
As a writer, I have always felt American in my writing. I think it was VS Naipaul said that the English language belongs to everyone–not just those born in England and America. I grew up reading American and English books – Sweet Valley High, Enid Blyton, JRR Tolkien, etc. So culturally, I always felt very Western even though I was growing up in Manila.
When I was older I did seek out Asian writers – Maxine Hong Kingston, Amy Tan, and writers of color, like Terry McMillan.
It was Terry McMillan that I adored. I loved her books, because while they dealt with race issues, they were also FUN and about shopping, and sex and men. Somehow, the Asian writers I was reading were a little too gloomy and serious for me. My goal was to be the Terry McMillan of Asian writers.
So I wrote this book called STUCK UP TRENDY ASIAN BITCH. About three hot Asian girls who just got out of college, and their fun lives in New York, shopping and having sex plus dealing with race and family issuses as well. Unfortunately, even with the great title and the great idea, I was only 22 and I really didn’t pull it off. One editor who loved the book said it “really started on page 150” — halfway through the novel. Also, this was before the chick lit revolution.
When I published CAT’S MEOW, I made Cat half-Caucasian and half-Japanese, because I really didn’t feel comfortable writing a main character who was totally white.
But then when I did THE AU PAIRS, which I felt was in the tradition of Sweet Valley High, it was a mainstream book, and two of the main characters are white, as the genre does call for, but I was able to sneak in a hot South American girl, which I was happy about. And now, in SUN KISSED, the newest au pair is a saucy Korean girl (much like many of my friends and readers). I don’t recall any character in the Sweet Valley High series who was even vaguely Asian. Maybe there are some characters now, but not in the 80s when I was reading them.
I’m also loving how Harry Potter had a crush on Cho Chang. Harry has a gook fetish! He’s into the bamboo! He’s a rice queen! LOL. These are just some of the derogatory ways bigots use to explain why people would be attracted to Asian women. I just find them kind of funny. I even wrote an article called “Gook Fetish” when I was younger and angrier about this phenomenon. But I think Harry just thinks Cho is pretty. And in the end, he doesn’t end up with her anyway, not because she is Asian, but because she is whiny. A good reason to dump someone!
I do try to make sure my characters reflect diversity in some way. It is important to me. And I also feel like it doesn’t really matter what race they are since each of my characters reflect a part of me. I’m Filipino/Spanish/Chinese and my husband is Irish/German/Croatian/Ukranian, and we both consider ourselves simply American.
One of our good friends said, when we told them we were excited to see how our kid turns out (will she look Asian? Caucasian?), she said she never even saw race when she looked at us — in fact, she was surprised to realize as we were talking that we WERE from different races, since she considered us just “the same.” Just “Mike and Mel” not white Mike and Filipino Mel. I think that’s what being American is all about isn’t it?
Lunch has arrived. Hooray. And now back to BB2:Masquerade.