Hey Storytellers! We have award-winning and bestselling author Jean Kwok on the show today.
This is a very special episode for me (listen to the episode’s introduction to find out why) and I’m beyond thrilled to share Jean’s interview with you!
What You’ll Learn From This Episode:
- Why writing about something that connects with you deeply allows you to create your best work, and how it attributed to Jean’s success as an author
- How to find the courage to write a book about emotional experiences in your life
- The importance of finding your balance of enlightening and entertaining your readers and how Jean goes about finding her balance
- How being an honest writer will allow you to create stories that will touch and change people’s lives
- How Jean prevents writer’s block
- How Jean withdraws from her daily life and places herself into a physical and emotional space to write
- The hardships Jean faced when deciding to speak up about her past and how it can inspire you as an author to not be ashamed of where you come from
- Jean’s advice on rejection and why you should never give up because there is someone out there who will believe in your writing
ABOUT ‘MAMBO IN CHINATOWN’
From the bestselling author of Girl in Translation, a novel about a young woman torn between her family duties in Chinatown and her escape into the world of ballroom dancing.
Twenty-two-year-old Charlie Wong grew up in New York’s Chinatown, the older daughter of a Beijing ballerina and a noodle maker. Though an ABC (American-born Chinese), Charlie’s entire world has been limited to this small area. Now grown, she lives in the same tiny apartment with her widower father and her eleven-year-old sister, and works— miserably—as a dishwasher.
But when she lands a job as a receptionist at a ballroom dance studio, Charlie gains access to a world she hardly knew existed, and everything she once took to be certain turns upside down. Gradually, at the dance studio, awkward Charlie’s natural talents begin to emerge. With them, her perspective, expectations, and sense of self are transformed—something she must take great pains to hide from her father and his suspicion of all things western. As Charlie blossoms, though, her sister becomes chronically ill. When Pa insists on treating his ailing child exclusively with eastern practices to no avail, Charlie is forced to try to reconcile her two selves and her two worlds— eastern and western, old world and new—to rescue her little sister without sacrificing her newfound confidence and identity.
“Sweet and lovely, filled with old-world tradition, Chinese superstition, and the complicated dance of forbidden love.”—JAMIE FORD, NYT BESTSELLING AUTHOR OF HOTEL ON THE CORNER OF BITTER AND SWEET
Learn More About Jean Kwok
Jean Kwok is the New York Times and international bestselling author of the award-winning novels Girl in Translation and Mambo in Chinatown. Her work has been published in 17 countries and taught in universities, colleges and high schools across the world. She has been selected for many honors including the American Library Association Alex Award, the Chinese American Librarians Association Best Book Award, and Barnes and Noble Discover Great New Writers. Jean’s writing has been featured in Time, The New York Times, USA Today, Newsweek, The Chicago Tribune, Entertainment Weekly, Vogue, People, Real Simple and O, The Oprah Magazine, among others.
Jean immigrated from Hong Kong to Brooklyn when she was five and worked in a Chinatown clothing factory for much of her childhood while living in an unheated, roach-infested apartment. In between her undergraduate degree at Harvard and MFA in fiction at Columbia, she worked for three years as a professional ballroom dancer. Jean lives in the Netherlands with her husband, two boys and three cats, and is working on her next novel. A Dutch television documentary with English subtitles was filmed about Jean and her work.
Jean’s Recommended Books and Resources:
Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott
Around the Writer’s Block by Rosanne Bane
Write Away by Elizabeth George
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