Thursday, August 30, 2012

Deanna Fei

For Fiction Writers Review, Kate Levin interviewed Deanna Fei about her debut novel, A Thread of Sky. Part of the Q & A:

You noted in an earlier interview that celebrity gossip sites are rich in stories. You make a similar observation in a piece for the Huffington Post, “Why Every Writer Should Watch Jersey Shore.” Thanks to blogs and Facebook and the million reality shows on TV, it seems like a story-hungry mind has more windows than ever into the lives of other people. It seems, too, that all of these narratives, all this information, could really impinge on the mental quiet needed to write. How do you cultivate the concentration it takes to work on a novel?

It’s true that I honestly believe my gossip habit serves as a little warm-up for writing, a way to step out of my own life and into the lives of others. But you’re right: writing doesn’t happen without that final phase, the whiting-out of everything but the one story before you. And sometimes that takes a lot of tricks. I have two laptops—one that’s so old that it crashes if I do more than word processing and maybe looking up a few references on Wikipedia, and one that I use for everything else. When it’s time to write, I put my other laptop in another room and close the door. I turn my phone to silent mode and put on noise-canceling headphones. And I don’t let anyone interrupt me. Maybe it seems self-indulgent, but writing is creating a whole universe for your characters and your readers, and you have to protect the process.

The idea for A Thread of Sky grew out of a package tour of mainland China that you took with your own sisters, mom, aunt, and grandmother. In your acknowledgments, you write: “…while this book was, in part, inspired by them, it is not about them; it does not depict their histories or their personalities. I offer them my apologies for potential misunderstandings, and my lifelong admiration.” Did it complicate things that the story was rooted in a recognizably real family experience? Or did it feel like the work of creating any fictional characters?

There was a part of me that deeply regretted the fact that...[read on]
Read an excerpt from A Thread of Sky, and learn more about the book and author at Deanna Fei's website and blog.

The Page 69 Test: A Thread of Sky.

--Marshal Zeringue