Hey folks! I'm here with an author interview featuring Andrew Xia Fukuda, author of the most excellent novel Crossing. I'm super excited and nervous about this because, truth be told, this is my first author interview ever, and hopefully I'm not messing up my first foray into this whole interview business too badly.
Yuan: I confess that one of my favorite aspects of your novel Crossing was the singing element. What made you decide on giving Xing a singing talent?
AXF: I'll need to confess something in order to answer that: I can't sing a lick. I croak like a frog when I try to sing. I've often wondered what it must be like to be able to sing lights-out beautiful, to own a musical instrument in your voice box. They say authors often live vicariously through their protagonists and this is certainly the case with me here. Once I decided that Xing would be a singer, I found and developed some metaphorical meanings behind Xing's rediscovery of his voice, but the simple answer to the question is I finally found a way to sing, albeit vicariously.
Yuan: You decided to name your protagonist Xing, and at the front we are given two definitions of the word (star and crossing). I suspect that this choice in name is very deliberate on your part. Can you please share with us more details on why and how you chose this name, its significance, etc?
AXF: Yes, it was a deliberate choice. First, "Xing" is a word that just seems all wrong and out of place yet sticks out a lot as well. That's an apt way to describe how many immigrant teens feel: out of place yet conspicuous. Second, Xing is a conscious play on words: it can mean star or crossing. Star connotes the sense of hope which Xing (and his parents) initially attached to the ideal of America. "Xing", when found as a road sign, also stands for a crossing. This obviously relates to the crossing to America. But crossing also works in a different direction in the novel: the reader makes a crossing into the life of Xing - walks in his shoes, lives in his skin, sees the world as he sees it. For me, this crossing of a reader into the very life and heart of a kind of person usually ignored and bypassed was a big part of this book.
Yuan: There is quite a dearth in Asian teenager leads in English-language fiction. In fact, I believe that your novel is the only debut American novel of 2010 I came across this year that featured an Asian (teenage)* protagonist. Do you have any book recommendations for an audience seeking English novels that can speak to a shared Asian Diasporic experience?
AXF: I love all of Jhumpa Lahiri's works, especially her short story collections Interpreter of the Maladies and Unaccustomed Earth. And although a little out-dated, John Okada's No-No Boy has always resonated deep within. Julie Otsuka's When the Emperor was Divine also has a quiet elegance and eloquence about it. None of these has a teenage protagonist but they each in their own way powerfully capture something about the sense of displacement and the yearning for a place called home.
Yuan: Finally, for all your new fans converted after having read your most excellent novel Crossing, do you have a future project coming up for us fans to look forward to? And if possible, do you care to share any details?
AXF: At the moment, I have the opposite of writer’s block: two stories have tumbled into my head and heart, and both, apparently, are jostling to be written before the other. They are completely different genres involving drastically different writing styles: one is literary romance (this caught me by surprise) and the other is a YA novel with a neat spin on the dystopian genre. It’s a bizarre experience; if I spend too much time on the one, I feel unfaithful to the other. Both are flowing so well that I dare not put either aside out of fear that that might somehow dry up the creative stream.
* Note: When I asked this question I forgot to add in 'teenage' into the question.
Interested in finding out more about his debut book Crossing? You can check out my review, and please consider entering my Crossing Book Giveaway for a chance to win a most excellent novel! (Opens internationally and ends May 14th)
My Giveaway + Announcements
*My first manga review for Natsume Yuujinchou V.1 - please let me know what you think