Next Big Thing

The Next Big Thing

Thank you to Rosebud Ben-Oni — co-editor of Her Kind, the blog of VIDA: Women in Literary Arts and the author of Solecism (Visual Artist Collection, 2013) — for tagging me in The Next Big Thing, a blog-tagging project for writers to interview themselves about an upcoming project and tag other writers.  Not only is Rosebud a wonderful gatherer of writers & community, she’s a writer I look to for reading guidance (check out her mini-love poems from the 7Train!)

What is the working title of your book?

Dialektik Skool

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

A re-write of the global histories of “coolie” labor vis-a-vis a futuristic Coolie World (aka Epcot Center meets cruise ship) where snakehead mothers lose daughter-sons, where orphans re-shape their tongues and bodies into tour guides for the coolie-hungry ….

What genre does your book fall under?

blurry (incorporates fiction, non-fiction and poetry!)

Where did the idea come from for the book?

When I was 16 years old, I was part of an Asian American youth program called Youth Writes. We learned about Asian American histories — in relation to the histories of other communities — and I remember that sense of bewilderment and anger that I had no idea, never heard any of this information, any of these stories before. Since that time, I’ve been obsessed with collective histories, especially those that are sunk or disappeared and swimming their way to the surface. But as I’ve gotten older — and my memory seems to be able to contain and retain less and less — I’ve also become interested in the faultiness of memory and also in the desire of our imaginations to grow beyond what might be. I’ve become interested in the idea of what happens when histories are projected into a future time and space, when histories are revisited, re-written, transformed. Is it possible to grow into something else?

How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

I have been writing various versions of this book for the last five years, but it’s so large that it’s spilled over the boundaries of other manuscripts.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

The 16 year-old angry little me who wanted to know why I didn’t know.

Who will publish your book?

I’m still in the dreaming stages, but many who have seen the work grow have told me that they see the work in an alternative format (living on the web, for instance), not in a traditional book format.

What other works would you compare this book to within your genre?

I’ve been looking for them and have seen pieces of this work reflected in Larissa Lai’s salt fish girl, Bhanu Kapil’s The Vertical Interrogation of Strangers, Sharon Bridgforth’s Love/Conjure Blues, Sesshu Foster’s Atomik Aztex, M. Nourbese Philip’s Zong!, Cathy Park Hong’s Dance Dance Revolution, Wong Kar-Wai’s 2046. But also in the work of assemblage visual artists such as Mark Bradford and Noah Purifoy and others such as Sylvia La.

What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

Jenny Shimizu for the snakehead mother; Toni Sideco for the daughter-son; Flo, one of the interview subjects in The Aggressives documentary, as Octave, one of the orphans who befriends the daughter-son.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

Think history/story mash-ups — different poems/stories/voices sharing/inhabiting/competing for space. Check out a sample here.

The next writers I tag in this project are:

R. Erica Doyle (Proxy)

Aimee Suzara (Finding the Bones)

Mitchell L.H. Douglas (\blak\ \al-fə bet\)

Vincent Toro (StereoIslandMosaic)

Randall Horton (Pitch Dark Anarchy)


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