Today I had the pleasure of interviewing Jamie Hoang, the award winning author of Blue Sun, Yellow Sky. This tea loving author is proud of being different, and not one to miss. Read the Q&A below.
Q: How long have you been writing?
A: I’ve been a storyteller for as long as I can remember, but I’ve been a writer for about 12 years. I started in screenwriting in college but gradually shifted to novels in my mid-twenties. I had a fantastic professor at UCLA, Kris Young, who really inspired me to embrace the thing that made my writing different–me.
Q: What inspires you to write? Do you have a muse?
A: Story. I love story. When I was a kid we didn’t have a lot of money, but my cousins and I would go to the library every Friday and we’d take home a stack of books as big as we could carry. If I’m being honest I was motivated by the prizes one could win by reading the most books, but than something shifted. I fell in love with the power of story and have been an avid reader ever since. Triumph over adversity inspires me the most and I think it will continue to be a theme throughout my writing career. I love a good underdog.
Q: Tell me about your book Blue Sun, Yellow Sky. What was the original idea behind it?
A: I read an article about a Dutch painter in her 40s who was going blind. She talked about her fears, which involved not only losing her independence but her sense of self. As a creative person, the story resonated with me and I started to explore what I would do if I learned I was going blind. I love to travel so that seemed a natural step for Aubrey to take, and as I dug deeper into my research, the theme of perception emerged and became the thread that held the story together.
Q: Which of your characters is most like you and in what way?
A: Most people are surprised to learn that the character most like me is actually Jeff. I’m a very guarded person by nature and when I was 23 I suffered my first real heartbreak. This event sent me on this amazing around-the-world journey that inspired a lot of what happens in the book. Like Jeff, I’ve had to study art in order to appreciate its value and depth. Writing BLUE SUN, YELLOW SKY changed the way I look at art, because once I knew the artistic process and all that creating a painting entailed, it was hard not to appreciate it.
Q: You say you love tea. Is that what you drink when you write? How do you feel about coffee?
A: Yes! I am obsessed with tea loose leaf tea. I’m not a snob about my tea, I just like the calming effect it has. I drink coffee too, but usually when I can’t write. And when I’m really stuck I often take a walk as well. It could be for a few minutes or a couple hours, depending on how the deep the problem runs. So I take coffee on my walks because it gives me a nice pep.
Q: What is your favorite type of tea? What about it do you like?
A: Green tea is my go to tea. But I have a routine. I drink English Breakfast in the morning because it’s the strongest. Then I move on to an Oolong tea, which is a black tea, but lighter. And I usually end with a Green Tea, which for me is like immersing myself in a hot tub full of bath salts and surrounded by candles.
Q: If you could be any character from any book, movie, or TV show, who would you be and why?
A: I would be Aubrey! I think I wrote her because she’s everything I’d want to be. She’s strong and confident and undeterred by her condition. I also love to travel, so getting to see more of the world would be a dream come true.
Q: If you could give high school you advice, what would it be?
A: Start early and trust your instincts. Your “mistakes” are going to be your greatest assets, so live foolishly and take risks.
Q: Where is your favorite place in the world?
A: I don’t have favorite places so much as favorite moments. There’s a scene in my book where Aubrey and Jeff are in China and they come across the Lotus Festival and see a beautiful display of lights in the night sky. That was based on an actual experience I had. I was sitting on the rooftop of a hotel in Shanghai. It was a quiet night and my sister and I were reflecting on the history of China, which we had seen in museums earlier that day, when I looked out at the city and saw a single light rise up into the sky. Then ten more, and before I knew it there were hundreds of lanterns floating toward the stars. It was hands down one of the coolest travel experiences I’ve ever had.
Q: What is something you want the world to know?
A: Being different is a good thing. Actually it’s preferable if you want to be a writer. The world doesn’t need another (insert any other writer here), it needs you.
Find Jamie Online: