Lions and Asians and Lit Bits, OH MY!

Full transparency: I’ve been one foot in the grid and one foot off for some time now. My writing has taken a backseat to introspection and a desire for tactile satisfaction–I want to see, to hear, to touch, to taste. It’s been a great honor and privilege that my family and community have rallied around me while I’ve been tucking myself inside my cocoon.

The butterfly must first digest the hungry, hungry caterpillar, you know.

Me, lunching in Fayetteville!

That said, so much has happened in the past two months. I’ve recorded four podcasts, interviewed for the Tyler Loop magazine, built two websites, two logo/brand kits, and designed an entire cover series for four YA Historical Fiction books (WHICH I’M SUPER EXCITED TO SHARE WITH YOU SOON).

I think the past two years–between the pandemic, publishing WTWR, a pregnancy, a new baby, a new job, the 2020 election, joining a publishing house as a creative designer, seeing that publishing house close and then evolve into a different publishing house, starting a creative design business, and friendships that have waxed, waned, grown, expanded, deepened, or ended–I’ve just been living in a state of perpetual forward motion. These past few months, I finally got hit with the whiplash.

This past weekend, my phone shattered and I truly disconnected for the first time in years. I was shocked by how much better it felt to just listen to my own thoughts, rather than endlessly scrolling or creating. I needed the reset. When I emerged again, it was Asian American Pacific Islander History Month. I’ve always been AAPI, but the past year have been working on a prequel to WTWR that has given me space to explore what exactly that means for me. It’s not complete yet, but that’s because I’m not complete yet. You have to become the person who can tell your story, and as this one is littered with autobiographical bites, I can’t finish it until I’m far enough away from this period in my life to be able to see it clearly.

About a month ago, I had the opportunity to talk a little bit about it (and the Filipino mythology infused within) on the Sley House Lit Bits Podcast. The folks from Sley House invited me over to their home in Fayetteville to record not one, but TWO(!) episodes in their studio.

Aside from the part where I met a strange man in a parking garage and then followed him to a house around the corner to meet two of his friends, the entire process was a ton of fun. The guys were funny, smart, witty, and above all, welcoming. After what amounted to five hours of chatting it up with Trevor, Jeremy, and Curtis, we ended up with two amazing recordings: Interview with K.M. West and A Look at Ray Bradbury.

The first is an in depth discussion about Wild Things Will Roam, the manananggal from Filipino myth, and agency of characters across genres. I also got the chance to talk more about the prequel, Broken Things We Called Love, which explores themes of lost culture, destiny, and the unseen pressures of being a first generation Asian American.

Her father speaks to the window, his face etched with distant cruelty. “There are monsters all around. The manananggal will suck your spirit out of your body with her long serpent tongue. She flies at night, just the top of her body.”

Dani rubs her red rimmed eyes. “But you can keep them away?”

“When I want to.” His voice has soured.

“I’m sorry about today,” she begins to placate.

“Don’t be sorry to me. Be sorry to your father.” Nausea balls in Dani’s chest and throat. She’s mortified by this downgrade from beloved to loathed. “No daughter of mine would lie and sneak. Walang hiya ka! Your father must be Maguayan, because it cannot be me. I have no anak na Amerikana.”

Excerpt from Broken Things We Called Love

It’s been a long road to this book and, though it’s still very much a work in progress, I’m incredibly proud of it. If you want more info or snippets, be sure to subscribe to my newsletter!

The second podcast explores Ray Bradbury’s “The Veldt” from his collection, “The Illustrated Man.” I was very excited when Jeremy mentioned this would be the topic of discussion, as The Veldt was one of those stories that really stuck with me after reading it in High School. The themes seem especially poignant in an era of social media and VR, particularly following the past two years of isolation. In the discussion, we’re left to wonder whether the lions might come for us, as well.

I hope you’ll check them out and give them a listen! In the meantime, I’ll try to shake these writing cobwebs loose and make some progress on the stories that keep bouncing around in my brain.

Thank you ALL for your patience and support! ❤ Happy AAPI Heritage month!

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