Layne Wong is a novelist and advocate who writes her characters through her own multi-cultural lens. Her perspective, based on her personal love story, takes into consideration influences that encompass culture, history and societal effects that are current and relevant and that impact all of humanity.
“When I was young, my parents warned me about mixed marriages – how they should be avoided at all costs. I was told that there were serious consequences to interracial relationships like estrangement, intolerance and in the extreme, even violence. And that was just from the outside world. The worst, I was told was that children of these unions would suffer social rejection from their own friends and families, and experience I understand now all too well.”
Layne’s story and the story of her characters, tell the tale of the historical social stigma that accompanied mixed marriages. In 1922, American Caucasians were punished for marrying immigrants of Chinese descent under the Racial Integrity Act. Those who broke this law had their citizenship revoked. It wasn’t until the late 1967 that this law was repealed by the Supreme Court and the broke down and marriage views began to change.
Layne’s story and her novel, Shanghai Love, honors the history of this struggle and is a beautiful reflection of her own struggle through her interracial marriage, bridging the seemingly unconquerable gap through the stories of great love.
“Awareness builds understanding. And, in this ever-evolving society I want to inspire others to embrace their own uniqueness.”
Layne’s a native Californian. She graduated from UCLA with a degree in English Literature. She has written extensively for TV and entertainment. She is of Chinese heritage and married a Jewish man, converted to Judaism in 2001. She is currently studying at the East West School of Herbology. She is a member of the Writers Guild of America (WGA), The Authors Guild, Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (ATAS), the Coalition of Asian Pacifics in Entertainment (CAPE), Independent Writers of South¬ern California (IWOSC), American Herbalist Guild, and Asia Society. She was selected for the prestigious AFI TV writer’s program and honed her craft in David Henry Hwang writing workshop at East-West Players in Los Angeles. She is also a member of the Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA).
What inspires you to write?
When I was A young girl, my grandmother would fill my head with stories every night. After a while, the tales she told would come alive in my head — I felt I had lived them as well.
Due to my own struggles with personal identity and multicultural relationship, I became fascinated with little known times in history when unlikely cultures collided due to war, economics or other circumstances.
My family is now a mixture of many different cultures!
Tell us about your writing process.
My writing process is a mixture of outlining and seat of the pants. I like to write on a computer using Microsoft word. I start with character sketches. The character always drives the story so it’s important for me to know about their desires and fears, what they long for in life and the disappointments they’ve encountered. Additional characters often appear after I’ve started writing, and when they do, I’ll stop and work up a character sketch for them. I start with general outlines which become more detailed chapter by chapter. And I’m always revising new chapter outlines as I move forward. Seat of the pants writing is where I stare down the blank page! Many times I start writing according to what I’ve outlined, and suddenly my character veers off in another direction! These are the most exciting and yet scary moments! When this happens, I then need to go back and revise the outline, but as I mentioned, for me it’s always the character that comes first!
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
I both listen and talk to my characters… in fact I enjoy having “coffee” with them — a relaxed setting at some outdoor cafe — as a way to get to know them. Of course this is all inside my imagination! Some characters need questions to prompt them to talk, others have so much to say! A few cry and some get angry. I love conversing with my characters — I learn a great deal from them.
What advice would you give other writers?
A writing schedule is very important. Take a calendar and make an appointment with yourself. It’s your time! Also make sure you have a dedicated writing space that works for you — surround yourself with pictures and items that inspire your creativity!
How did you decide how to publish your books?
My longtime writing coach became an independent publisher just as I was finished with my manuscript. She’d been with me through the writing process, so It was a natural fit! I would advise new authors to explore all publishing platforms and choose the one that fits with their personality.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
I believe the future of book publishing will continue to evolve in very dramatic ways. The changes that have been happening over the last few years definitely favor the author — and that’s great for writers and readers! We’ll have more unique and creative breaking through. This is a very exciting time in publishing and I’m eager to be a part of it!
What do you use?
Professional Editor, Professional Cover Designer, Beta Readers
What genres do you write?
Women’s Literature, Historical Fiction, Historical Romance, Asian LIterature, Jewish Literature
What formats are your books in?
Both eBook and Print