As posted on GoodReads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5834608
Rita Lee Chapman: This week it is my pleasure to interview Marlene Cheng. Would you please introduce yourself to my readers, Marlene and share something about your life?
First off, thank you for doing this. I think that this is a wonderful way to get to know authors.
I live, sheltered by giant pine and cedar, overlooking the ocean, on the West Coast of British Columbia, Canada.
When did you write your first book and how did it come about?
The Kwan Clan, which is humongous and has been made famous most recently by Kevin Kwan’s book and movie, Crazy Rich Asians, was, in 2012, having a Family Reunion.
My sister-in-law, being an elder, was thought to hold family memories that might soon be long forgotten if she didn’t write them down. Because her mother had lived with us for several years and had told me no end of family stories, Man Sheung recruited me for the task.
I went to Singapore. She talked. I wrote. The Many Layered Skirt: Dàn Gâo Qún was published on time for the reunion.
Do you always write in the same genre or do you mix it up?
As I’ve said, I started with the biography, then I wrote The Tuareg Ladies which is kind of a fictional autobiography and since then I’ve concentrated on the 3-book Bond Series which are (if I must categorize them) Literary Fiction- Contemporary Romance Fiction-Women’s Fiction.
When you write, do you start with an idea and sit down and let it evolve, or do you make notes and collect ideas on paper beforehand?
I am always writing in my head. I also carry a notebook to jot down interesting stuff that might find its way into my thoughts. When I’ve lived with the characters and their situations to the point where they are starting to drive me crazy, I sit down at the computer. I just let it flow. More-often-than-not, what I type has no resemblance to what I carried in my head. The characters take over and tell their own stories.
Would you like to give us a short excerpt from one of your books?
This is from A Mystical Embrace:
This is Geneva at her mystical island home after her son’s death. She’s talking about her very endearing neighbours. “…in keeping with Island ways, I shared with them what had happened to Krys and how I was handling it, in bits and pieces, at opportune moments: while walking the beach, keeping an eye for interesting drift-wood garden statues; over warm, buttered, lemony scones and lattes while waiting for the moon to be eclipsed, hoping for the clear night to hold; when thoughts were triggered. They never pushed, realizing that some details were difficult in their coming. Some were even too sensitive for their empathetic ears.”
Who is your favourite character and why?
Tess, from The Tuareg Ladies is the most courageous. She has multiple-personality disorder and struggles to meet the demands of her professional life (she is a surgical pathologist) while trying to keep her personal life private.
Venice faced a multitude of demons: dyslexia; depression; addictions; homelessness but, God bless her, she is a survivor.
Raven, wanting to ‘give back,’ becomes a talented sniper with the Canadian Forces. I’ve never stopped loving him.
And Geneva and Y are lovers. Everyone loves lovers.
How would I ever choose a favorite?
Which of your books gave you the most pleasure to write?
That’s like asking a mother which of her children give her the most pleasure. Each book had its joy moments, its poignant and sad ones.
The Tuareg Ladies is, probably, the most autobiographical and it was a rollercoaster ride of emotions to write.
I cried my way through A Mystical Embrace. In hindsight, I realize that I was subconsciously grieving my own pending loss. A few short days after I had finished, my husband, unexpectedly, passed away.
What is the best marketing tip you have received?
I’m waiting for a good one.
What do you do when you are not writing or reading?
I’m very involved with family events. My 6 grandchildren are at the interesting age of figuring out their directions in life. I love that they let me be a part of that. I have huge rock gardens and ponds, so can spend hours gardening and watching the birds and fish.
If you could holiday anywhere in the world, where would you choose and why?
JAPAN. I’ve travelled a lot but have never been to Japan. However, I’ve been carrying an interest ever since, as young ladies in hospital training my Japanese classmate took me home to meet her family. They had been rounded-up and put into an interment camp away from the coast, during the 2nd World War. When I visited, they had recently returned to find a very different life than what they had left. Their lovely home and furnishings, everything was gone, but their resilient spirit prevailed. The mother worked long hours pealing shrimp by hand to help regain a financial footing, and she introduced me to their culture, mostly by way of food: I learned how to make sushi.
I would love to visit centres for cultural heritage: tiny Misumi where traditional Japanese craft paper is made; Hagi for its famed pottery; the Aburanokopi neighbourhood of Kyoto where shibori dyers can take up to 2 years to create stunning kimonos. Intrinsic to the Japanese way of life, their artisanship is art from nature. I wouldn’t want to miss the Otsu bathing hot springs, Nagano in the Japanese Alps or the sand dunes of Tottori, but if it’s 2020, I might skip over-tourism and the Summer Olympics in Tokyo.
What is the biggest factor for you when selecting a book to read?
I’m usually looking for a book that speaks to my, in the moment, paramount interest. However, that doesn’t stop books from jumping out at me. I’m keeping an eye out for anything written on the Sudan.
Do you have your own website?
Yes. https://marlenecheng.wordpress.com But it needs editing. It doesn’t work well. I think that your website looks good and is functional.
Are you working on a new book at the moment?
It’s in my head. It’s a spinoff from the Bond Series. Trijay is the daughter of Oriole (the Sudanese refugee who lived for years in Dadaab, the Kenyan Camp) and Trianna (the UN worker from Sweden). Trijay was born in Canada, grew up in Sweden, goes to medical school in Ireland and………………It’s her story.
Thank you, again, Rita. It’s been my pleasure.
CHECK OUT MARLENE AT https://marlenecheng.wordpress.com https://authorcentral.amazon.com/author/marlenecheng