The second author in our Asian American author series is Emily Jiang, author of the brand new book Summoning the Phoenix: Poems and Prose About Chinese Musical Instruments.
Here are Emily’s answers to my questions (in poems and prose!):
1) Which of your characters do you most identify with and why?
Emily Jiang: All my characters have a bit of me in them, even the villains. It’s my personal opinion that the best stories have villains that feel like real characters equal to the main characters. Because the most compelling antagonists should have motivations that feel real. While I love my protagonists, I often actively try to make them different from me. Typically the characters I most identify with are the secondary characters, like the best friend or the aunt or uncle or the music teacher.
All my characters
feel real to me–they are stars
in their own stories.
2) If you could give your Asian American kid readers one piece of advice, what would it be?
EJ: Embrace your artistic passion & stay in touch with your true friends. Even if you have a day job, art and community of amazing people enriches life.
Create art and build
bonds with people who get you.
Life without regrets.
3) Who is your favorite Asian American children’s author right now (other than yourself)?
EJ: I know and admire so many wonderful Asian American children’s authors, and if I can only choose one, it would have to be the absolutely brilliant Linda Sue Park. She fearlessly writes for audiences of all ages as well as writing across genres (poetry, contemporary fiction, science fiction, historical fiction). Not only is Linda Sue Park a wonderful writer, but she is a generous speaker. One year I heard her speak the keynote speech at three different conferences, and each speech was completely different and completely brilliant. Even though she’s won the Newbery and other awards, she always maintains an air of openness and is so approachable in person. I can only aspire to be morel like Linda Sue Park as a person and as a writer.
The best authors are
brilliant, generous, open,
and wholly themselves.
4) Alternate question if one of the above does not appeal to you: Were you a reader growing up? Why or why not?
When I was a child, I was extremely shy and books were my best friends. I constantly carried a minimum of three with me everywhere I went. Whenever my mom needed to run errands, I would ask to be dropped off at the library, where I read to my heart’s content. I cannot imagine being a writer without being a huge reader first.
If you want to write,
Read! Read everything in sight!
Books are your best friends.
About the Author:
Emily Jiang is the author of Summoning the Phoenix: Poems & Prose about Chinese Musical Instruments. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Saint Mary’s College of California and a BA in English from Rice University. She wrestles with words everyday. Sometimes she wins. Sometimes, it’s a draw. She blogs at: www.EmilyJiang.com.