Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Notes from the Hong Kong International Literary Festival

My spoils from events with X-Men writer Marjorie Liu, expat novelist Brittani Sonnenberg, and Unexploded writer Alison MacLeod.

For the first ten days in November, authors from all over the world descended on Hong Kong for the annual International Literary Festival. People like Junot Diaz, Alison MacLeod, and Tash Aw entertained and inspired with talk of their work at venues all over the city. The Hong Kong International Literary Festival has always been important to me. It's where I met my first writers' group and my first author-hero (Peter Hessler). This year, I got to be a festival author too.

My event was a panel featuring Hong Kong-based writers. In addition to myself, we got to hear from Marshall Moore (publisher of Signal 8 Press) and Maria Chaudhuri. Jason Y. Ng sadly couldn't make it due to a flight delay, but the event was well-attended and lots of fun. Each author read aloud from their new books and then we had a fascinating discussion with the audience on my three favorite topics: writing, publishing, and Hong Kong.

Best of all, we launched my long-awaited memoir Year of Fire Dragons. The book arrived from the printer just in time for the event. I saw it for the first time myself the night before!

As a festival author, I also got to do a brief radio interview on RTHK and speak about being a writer at a local secondary school. (It made me miss my old students a lot.) The festival was a great success and I'm so glad I got to participate.

Now, Year of Fire Dragons is making its way into Hong Kong book stores. If you spot it, please tweet a picture to @ShannonYoungHK! If you're overseas, you can pre-order from Amazon or order directly from the publisher, Blacksmith Books. The e-book will be out soon!

Just before going on RTHK with Noreen Mir.

Did you attend any HKILF events? Which one was your favorite?

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

A Tale of Two Book Launches

Available for pre-order on Amazon
In a strange turn of events, I am in the process of launching two books this month. One is the Hong Kong travel memoir I have been talking about since this blog began, now titled Year of Fire Dragons: An American Woman's Story of Coming of Age in Hong Kong. Though I haven't yet held the book in my hands, it has been printed and will be appearing in Hong Kong bookstores any day now. I've written a bit more about this book's journey in my new column on The Displaced Nation.

If you are in Hong Kong, I would be honored if you would attend the launch event, which is part of the Hong Kong International Literary Festival. It will take place at 10 am this Sunday at the Duke of Windsor Building on Hennessy Road in Wan Chai. You can buy tickets here. The event will feature two other wonderful Hong Kong-based authors, Jason Y. Ng (No City for Slow Men) and Maria Chaudhuri (Beloved Strangers). I hope you can be there!

The other book I am launching this week is totally different. It's a post-apocalyptic adventure set at
$2.99 on Amazon
sea that began life as my NaNoWriMo project in 2012. It's available as an e-book from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo, and the paperback will be for sale by the end of the month. This book is so different from my other work that I am publishing under a pen name, Jordan Rivet, for which I maintain a separate blog. If you happen to enjoy dystopian and post-apocalyptic fiction, please check out Seabound. To celebrate this launch, I am digging into another NaNoWriMo project: writing Book 3 in the Seabound Chronicles by Jordan Rivet.

Thank you all so much for your support and encouragement. I'll have more to say about Year of Fire Dragons soon, but in the meantime I just wanted to let you know about this surreal moment in my publishing life. 

Monday, October 20, 2014

The Dragonfruit Launch Party

On Thursday we celebrated the launch of How Does One Dress to Buy Dragonfruit? True Stories of Expat Women in Asia with a party at Bookazine in Hong Kong. Thank you to everyone who came out and made the event such a success! All photo credits go to Anshuman Das from Signal 8 Press.

A great crowd at Bookazine on 16 October 2014
Contributor India Harris came all the way from the Philippines for the party.
Contributor Coco Richter introducing her story.
Contributor Stephanie Han gave a beautiful reading of her Hong Kong story.
Contributor Susan Blumberg-Kason came all the way from Chicago for the event, and to launch... 
...her new memoir Good Chinese Wife.
Contributor Jennifer S. Deayton finished off the readings with an excerpt from 'Bread and Knives.'
After the readings all the contributors signed books for their friends and fans.
Here's Signal 8 publisher Marshall Moore with Dragonfruit inspiration and novelist Xu Xi.
Friend and writer Carol tells me she is already almost finished with the book!

We were happy that Asia Literary Agency founder Kelly Falconer could make it to the event.
Thank you to everyone who attended!
And here's me eating the microphone.

P.S. On the day of the Dragonfruit party I turned in my final edits for Year of Fire Dragons: An American Woman's Story of Coming of Age in Hong Kong. The book will be in stores very soon. Here's the Goodreads page if you'd like to add it!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Cover Reveal for Year of Fire Dragons: An American Woman's Story of Coming of Age in Hong Kong

Drumroll, please! I'm so excited to reveal the cover of my new travel memoir Year of Fire Dragons: An American Woman's Story of Coming of Age in Hong Kong. This is the first book I started writing, and it will be published by Blacksmith Books, an excellent Hong Kong-based publisher, at the end of October.

Cara the designer did a wonderful job of capturing the story, which is about my first year in Hong Kong. The main drama of the book follows my thwarted long distance romance, but it's also about my love affair with the city of Hong Kong and I think the cover captures that beautifully. The illustration reminds me of Love with a Chance of Drowning (UK edition), a book sharing similar themes of love, travel and self discovery.

The book should hit the shelves, virtual and literal, at the end of October, just in time for the Hong Kong International Literary Festival. This is probably a good time to announce that I'll be speaking at the festival this year! I'll visit a school as part of the Young Readers program and be a speaker at one of the big events. I'll share more details about that soon!

Monday, September 8, 2014

A Mid-Autumn Eve's Dream


I'm back in Hong Kong just in time for my favorite part of the year: Mid-Autumn Festival. This was the first holiday I experienced when I moved to Hong Kong four years ago, and I'm very happy to be marking the beginning of my fifth year here in Asia's World City.

As you know, I spent the month of August in Arizona writing with my mom and getting in plenty of quality family time. We enjoyed some nice afternoons working in local restaurants and coffee shops (including Liberty Market and Coffee Rush, where I used to spend a lot of time grading essays). We visited a local writers' group and attended a talk with Southwest novelist Jo-Ann Mapson. I even got to check out First Draft Book Bar with my sister, which is literally a bar inside a bookstore. 

The trip was reasonably productive, too. I wrapped up a draft of the sequel to my forthcoming post-apocalyptic novel, worked on a new group of articles for Modern Love Long Distance, and reread the entire Harry Potter series. My mom wrote 500 words a day and she's getting ready to launch a cool new blog that I'll tell you about as soon as she lets me!

Perhaps one of the best things that happened while I was out of town was that I got to see some cover designs for my memoir that is being published by Blacksmith Books later this fall. It's called Year of Fire Dragons: An American Woman's Story of Coming of Age in Hong Kong. The story begins and ends at the Mid-Autumn Fire Dragon Dance in Tai Hang (video above from 2011). It's hard to believe that my dream of having this book published will be coming true very soon. The cover we settled on is so beautiful and I can't wait to show you guys the final version!

For the first time, I'm not returning to school as the autumn begins. I'm giving my dream job a chance, and so far, I'm absolutely loving this writing life. Thank you all so much for your continuing support and enthusiasm. If you're in Hong Kong, I hope you have a safe and happy Mid-Autumn Festival!

Thursday, August 7, 2014

On a Writing Holiday in Arizona

I hope you guys are all having a terrific summer! I wanted to post a quick update on what I've been doing this summer.

My husband and I went on a beautiful Alaska cruise to celebrate our first wedding anniversary. It also served as a research trip for my post-apocalyptic series, which takes place on a souped-up cruise ship. I disembarked with a phone full of inspirational photos and a notebook full of ideas (and new vocabulary) to use in my final revision of SEABOUND and in the later books in the series. Plus, Alaska was super pretty. Highlights included seeing humpback whales, cruising through Glacier Bay and taking a historic mining train into the mountains from Skagway.

Next, we drove from Seattle to Bandon, Oregon to spend a week at my grandparents' farm. Highlights included a post-crabbing BBQ, blueberry and blackberry picking and hanging out with a bunch of my relatives.

Now, I'm in my hometown: Gilbert, Arizona. I'll spend August with my family before heading back to Hong Kong. As I've shared before, I recently quit my day job to write full-time for six months. My mom is also concluding her day job in her own way this fall. Over the past 27 years, she has raised and homeschooled nine children. Next week, my youngest sister will start full-time school (7th grade). For the first time, my mom will be free for eight hours a day. And she wants to write! So for the month of August we'll be writing together and helping each other build good habits as full-time writers. I'm incredibly excited about this, and I'll keep you posted on how it's going.

If you happen to be in Arizona and want to meet up this month, please email me! snyoung88@gmail.com. We'll be checking out a few writing workshops and meet-ups, and investigating the local writing scene.

What are you up to this summer? Have you read any good books lately?

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

GOOD CHINESE WIFE by Susan Blumberg-Kason


A young American woman meets and quickly marries a man from central China while living in Hong Kong. Soon, she discovers she doesn't know him as well as she thought.


If you occasionally read the comments of this blog, you'll probably recognize the name Susan Blumberg-Kason. She is a huge fan of books (both fiction and non-fiction) about China in general and Hong Kong in particular. Susan lived in Hong Kong as a young woman, right before the Handover. Now, I'm excited to participate in the blog tour for Susan's own memoir, Good Chinese Wife. It's the dramatic story of Susan's marriage to a dashing musician from central China named Cai who turns out to be a moody and tumultuous partner.

Good Chinese Wife explores the rapid breakdown of a marriage between two people from different cultures who don't quite manage to communicate. They can speak each other's languages, but Susan and Cai can't break through barriers of culture and insecurity to make their marriage work. Hints of infidelity and emotional abuse begin to emerge, but Susan is caught between her desire to be considerate of Cai's worldview and her need to protect herself. Their troubles are compounded when their son is born and they move to San Francisco, where Cai experiences depression and culture shock and Susan finds herself the sole breadwinner for not just her husband and young son, but also her in-laws and the occasional unwelcome houseguest.

A very important part of this story is that Susan acknowledges her own mistakes while describing an untenable situation. She recognizes that she was rash and naive in jumping into her marriage with Cai. She was starstruck by his good looks, charm, and the fact that she was in love with Chinese culture already. She's also frank about the way she was treated as she describes her journey through insecurity to the point where she would finally stand up for herself and her son. Although the account is painful at times, it's a revelatory look at what can happen when two people (regardless of culture) have very different expectations for their life together. This is an honest and vulnerable memoir that will appeal to people who are interested in cross-cultural relationships, especially those between Asian men and Western women.


Susan Blumberg-Kason's website features reviews of many Hong Kong and China-related books.
Susan also has a story in my anthology How Does One Dress to Buy Dragonfruit? True Stories of Expat Women in Asia that serves as an epilogue to this memoir.
You can find links to the other blogs in this tour at Speaking of China. Many deal specifically with relationships between Asian men and Western women.


$9.99 for the Kindle edition


How do you think marriage expectations differ between Chinese and American culture? Do you think the troubles of this story are primarily due to cultural differences or due to the personalities of the couple involved?
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