I was born and raised in Los Angeles, California. The youngest of three siblings, my parents emigrated from Thailand to the U.S. in the late 1970’s, setting up residence in a one bedroom apartment in the Koreatown District of L.A. As a child, I spent my early Saturday mornings watching my favorite cartoons and playing video games with friends. The rest of my time I spent reading and collecting comic books and anime with my older brother. Inspired by titles such as X-Men, Akira, and Robotech, I buried himself in these imaginary worlds, drawing my favorite characters and creating plenty of my own. I transformed a corner of my family’s small living room into a makeshift art station. Mock covers of my favorite comics and magazines adorned the wall. At school, my journals and homework were filled with doodles in the margins, much to the chagrin of some of my teachers. As I grew older, my love for incredible stories led me towards a degree in history, where I found fact to often be more amazing than fiction. I graduated from UCSD with a degree in History and a minor in Education. Shortly after, I received my teaching credential and have been teaching since, finding it to be a rewarding yet challenging profession, all the while continuing my love for brave new worlds with my insatiable appetite for books and graphic novels.
What inspires you to write?
Truth be told, I’ve always been a writer at heart. I can remember back when I was little, creating a comic strip for an elementary school project. I think we had to come up with a poster for an anti-smoking campaign, and I remember creating my first superhero named SmokeKill. He wore these colorful orange and blue tights, and he could inhale all the bad smoke in the world. I honestly thought he was the coolest character ever, so I turned the poster into a full-on comic book. I recall my teacher being impressed with it, and from that point on, I was always creating strange new worlds filled with fantastic characters. (Well, at least to me they were fantastic).
As far as inspiration goes, I find inspiration for my stories everywhere. Whether it be from a great book, movie, news story, or just being on the train and people watching. I love taking that small spark of inspiration and developing it into an entire story. I enjoy the challenge of seeing how far I can take it.
Tell us about your writing process.
For me, I always have a journal and pen with me (if not I’ll take notes on my phone), but I discover ideas for my stories everywhere. I have to jot them down otherwise I’ll forget, because the next story is already taking its place! Once I have a solid concept for a story, I’ll do the necessary research to make sure I’m comfortable with it. Be it setting, time period, etc…I need to make sure that the world I’m going to create makes sense to me.
Next, I’ll work on my characters, fleshing them out in detail and creating back stories for all of them. That way, I keep details and facts consistent, but I always make changes here and there as the story develops. Afterwards, I’ll outline the story from beginning to end. With a solid outline done, I’ll frame the book scene by scene on index cards. I find index cards easy to use, and I can always have them with me. (Tablets are great and all, but I don’t like typing on them, I prefer to write things down). Once my scenes are complete, I’ll begin writing from beginning to end, and then going back for multiple revisions until I’m happy with the final manuscript.
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
Yes…yes I do. I often find myself sitting at my computer, or driving in my car having a full conversation with my characters. It feels odd, but it definitely helps me discover what attributes and motivations best suit their unique personalities. I loosely base some of my characters on people from history, so as to give me a solid starting point. As I write, my conversations with my characters delve deeper and begin to shape and mold them into their own persons.
What advice would you give other writers?
Write and read a lot. Write to practice your craft, and read to see how others are doing it. The difficult thing for me to do at times is to balance out the two. I find myself in “writing mode” where that’s all I want to focus on, but often times I’ll get stuck on a scene, or plot line, and I’ll usually find great inspiration from other works. That’s why I feel it’s a healthy idea to balance the two.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
I decided to self-publish my novel because my original intention was to share my story. It sounds simple, but as I discovered in my research, going the traditional route can be a lengthy and difficult process. At the end of the day, I wanted to get my story out to as many people as possible because I believed in what I wrote. Self-publishing has allowed me to do that with minimal upfront investment. I liked the fact that all I really needed to do was to focus and write my story. The self-publishing process is fairly straightforward, and next thing you know, it’s available to millions of customers.
I think at the end of the day, every writer wants to be published by a traditional publisher, but you can hit a brick wall trying to break through, which can be frustrating. I would advise anyone who wants to get their story out to pursue every path available to you, but know that self-published authors are growing, and are starting to garner more attention (making it to NY Times Bestsellers List, Top Amazon Rankings, etc…). A fair bit of warning though. Know that with the ease of self-publishing available today, there’s a lot of new books entering the marketplace. For your book to stand out, it has to first of all, be a great story. Secondly though, as a self-published author, you don’t have a team of marketing execs getting your book out to the world. You, the writer, will also become a marketing exec because the you’re the only person who can really make it happen. I’m find this step be a challenging, but very rewarding process as well. It really tests how badly you want to share your story.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
With the advent of ebooks, and all the myriad of other electronic forms of reading, the amount of books available are growing at an astonishing rate. Traditional brick and mortar bookstores are struggling (Borders went bankrupt), and there’s a shift now towards everything being online. I still love the tangible feel of a book in my hands, and the joy of browsing around a bookstore, but when I see my third grade students going to the “store” on their Kindles, it’s a telling sign of how and where books are being read and seen by potential readers. I personally hope bookstores aren’t replaced entirely by virtual ones, but it would be prudent to stay connected with the industry as it shifts from one medium to the next.
What do you use?
Professional Editor, Professional Cover Designer, Beta Readers
What genres do you write?
Fantasy, Teen, Young Adult, Fiction, Middle Grades
What formats are your books in?
Both eBook and Print
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