Welcome to the March 8th stop on the blog tour for Love and Other Moods by Crystal Z. Lee, organized by iRead Book Tours. Be sure to follow the rest of the tour for spotlights, other author interview/guest post content, and a giveaway! More on that at the end of this post.
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At what age did you decide to become a writer?
I’ve wanted to write for as long as I could remember–when I was 13 and moved from Taiwan to the US, and felt like a fish out of water. When I was 19 and my white college roommate said I came from “rice paddies.” When I was 23 and assaulted in New York City. When I was 26 and was told by my boss in Shanghai that I wasn’t good enough. And over the years, during the myriad of moments when I’d been disappointed by love and my heart had been shattered. And when I had met the one who put the pieces back together. I finally forced myself to put the stories stored in the recesses of my soul to paper. Thus, Love and Other Moods was born.
What inspired the idea for Love and Other Moods?
I’ve always wanted to write a love story based in a city in East Asia. I spent nearly a decade in Shanghai, and I believe it’s one of the most romantic metropolises. Sure, Rome or Paris are iconic cities of love, but I think Tokyo or Taipei or Shanghai can be just as romantic.
What do you do to relieve writer’s block?
Pre-covid era my response to writer’s block was to travel. That usually did the trick and I’d be flowing with ideas after my trips. Now, I travel through book and films.
You mentioned being bilingual. Is there one language that you prefer more than the other?
I am a bilingual reader in both English and Chinese. I read in both languages voraciously. In terms of writing, I type faster in English than in Chinese. I can hand-write Chinese traditional characters fluently, however am slower when it comes to typing. I’m grateful for being able to read and write in Chinese. There is something so beautiful about these characters and pictograms which have been around for thousands of years.
How do you develop your plot and characters?
For me, visualization is an essential element to my writing. I try to visualize what my characters look like, where they live, how they grew up etc. Once I have that picture established, the rest of the writing flows a bit more easily.
What was the most difficult part of your writing process?
I wrote this novel while taking care of my young firstborn and pregnant with my second. Trying to find the time to write and balancing motherhood was challenging.
Favorite and least favorite part of the writing process?
Favorite process is the writing journey itself. Least favorite process is pitching the manuscript.
An author who has influenced your writing?
Chinese author Eileen Chang. Eileen Chang would’ve turned 100 years old in 2020. She is one of the most influential Chinese writers of the last century. Although her tales transport you to the 30s and 40s era of Shanghai and Hong Kong, her stories are still immensely relevant for every type of reader today. Maybe because aspects of her life are relatable for many: she was from a broken family, she came-of-age in a politically turbulent time, she suffered debilitating illnesses and was quarantined for awhile, and later, she was a refugee and immigrant. It’s fitting that one character in her Chinese name is “Love,” because she was a keen observer of romance. Under her pen, Shanghai and Hong Kong became an amorous playground, and at times a battlefield, for those searching for love, which is all of us. In Love and Other Moods, I included one of my favorite Eileen Chang quotes:
“You meet the one…amongst thousands and tens of thousands of people, amidst thousands and tens of thousands of years, in the boundless wilderness of time, not a step sooner, not a step later.”
What does your writing space look like?
I have two young children who tend to sneak into my writing nook and misplace my papers and books. Needless to say, my writing space can get messy! I don’t always write in the same exact spot. Whenever an idea pops into my head I jot it down anywhere. I always have pens and paper in my purse!
Does writing energize or exhaust you?
I think writing can be both exhilarating and exhausting. When I’m on deadline then I get stressed out. But personally I can’t imagine NOT writing. It’s integral to my everyday now.
Anything that has surprised you since the publication of Love and Other Moods?
The Contemporary Romance fiction category is a hard one to crack, because it’s one of the most saturated and crowded book genres. Some of my favorite romance authors are in this category, such as Nicholas Sparks, Jojo Moyes, Sophie Kinsella. Imagine my complete surprise when I found out that Love and Other Moods recently ranked in the top five of Amazon Singapore’s Contemporary Romance New Releases list! It’s not every day an Asian or minority writer can top the Romance category, a book genre that is statistically predominantly Caucasian. One thing I learned since the publication of my novel: readers are hungry for more diverse characters, narratives, and stories.
What is the most valuable piece of advice you would give aspiring writers?
Never give up. Keep on writing even if you only have one person reading your work. Also, be kind to yourself.
About the Book
Love and Other Moods
by Crystal Z. Lee
Published 10 December 2020
Genre: NA #OwnVoices Multicultural Romance
Page Count: 324
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Love and Other Moods is a coming-of-age story set in contemporary China, about falling in love, learning to adult, finding strength, and discovering one’s place in the world.
Naomi Kita-Fan uproots her life from New York to China when her fiancé’s company transfers him to Shanghai. After a disastrous turn of events, Naomi finds herself with no job, no boyfriend, and nowhere to live in a foreign country.
Amidst the backdrop of Shanghai welcoming millions of workers and visitors to the 2010 World Expo, we meet a tapestry of characters through Naomi: Joss Kong, a Shanghai socialite who leads an enviable life, but must harbor the secrets of her husband, Tay Kai Tang. Logan Hayden, a womanizing restaurateur looking for love in all the wrong places. Pan Jinsung and Ouyang Zhangjie, a silver-aged couple struggling with adapting to the ever-changing faces of their city. Dante Ouyang, who had just returned to China after spending years overseas, must choose between being filial and being in love. All their dreams and aspirations interweave within the sprawling web of Shanghai.
This multilayered novel explores a kaleidoscope of shifting relationships——familial friction, amorous entanglements, volatile friendships——in one of the most dynamic metropolises of the twenty-first century.
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About the Author
Crystal Z. Lee is a Taiwanese American bilingual writer. She has called many places home, including Taipei, New York, Shanghai, and the San Francisco Bay Area. She was formerly a public relations executive who had worked with brands in the fashion, beauty, technology, and automotive industries. ‘Love and Other Moods’ is her debut novel.
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