Interview Taiwanese-American Author Ed Lin

Actress Cindy Cheung, Author Ed Lin, AAWW Program Director Ryan Wong

By Kevin Young

The Taipei Cultural Center of The Taipei Economic Cultural Office (TECO), hosted a press conference for Taiwanese-American author, Ed Lin’s new book, Ghost Month. Ghost Month is published through Soho Press, a company founded by Laura Hruska in 1986 whose intent is to publish literary fiction and international crime series. Settings of novels under Soho Press include Paris, Laos, Ireland, South Korea, Japan, Australia, Berlin, and many more exotic countries.

Author Ed Lin

Ghost Month is a sinister crime mystery set in modern day Taiwan, which entails the story of the protagonist, Jing-nan’s journey to discover who grisly murdered his beloved ex-girlfriend whom he planned on marrying. Jing-nan is determined to find out why his former lover turned into an erotic racy betelnut girl, sporting tight skimpy dresses while selling narcotic stimulants to truck-drivers on bustling highways. Jing-nan’s ex had so much potential to have a commendable career because she attended New York’s landmark prestigious university, NYU. Jing-nan struggles to seek out answers to these puzzling questions.

Lin specifically scheduled his book to be released during late July to coincide with Taiwan’s ghost month because ghost month serves as the setting for the novel. It’s the time of the year where spirits of the dead awaken to ghastly lurk all over the Taiwan’s streets causing mischief.  To further enhance Taiwanese cultural themes there is the inclusion of the night market in the novel.  The night market  is a gargantuan food festival filled with street vendors selling and flooding the streets with their goods.

Susan Yu (Director of Taipei Cultural Center), Ed Lin

Lin hailing from Howard Beach, Queens is a member to both the Asian American Journalist Association (AAJA) and the co-sponsor of this event, the Asian American Writer’s Workshop (AAWW). Lin is the first author to win three Asian American Literary Awards. Lin’s work has been exalted by Playboy Magazine, playwright David Henry Hwang, and fellow authors Da Chen, Don Lee, Barry Gifford, Arthur Nersesian, and Junot Diaz. Lin looks forward to writing a follow up story to ghost month to turn it into an infinite novel series. He even has another project in the works about the coming of age tale of growing up as a New Jersey boy.

Here are a few of his words.

What would you like to say about your new novel, Ghost Month?

Ghost month talks about murder. It contains elements of humor and has been called a darkly comic thriller. I’m a financial journalist by day and so I did all of my writing this book at night. I really love being in financial journalism and fiction writing. I’ve always loved writing since I was in the 1st grade. This book is only 15 percent of what I wrote. My process is to write a lot and cancel everything out. I want readers to enjoy and have fun while reading.

How did you do the research for Ghost Month?

It took me two and a half years to do research. From my travels to Taiwan I would experience the culture and try various foods at the night market. I really enjoyed the Hot Star deep fried chicken cutlet. I looked at the archives at Colombia University and read a lot of translated works written by Taiwanese authors. An example is Wintery Night. I highly recommend these books.

Can you elaborate on how this book is personal to yourself?

Ghost Month is very personal to myself its very Asian-American. Well the protagonist has my Chinese name. But unlike him I have never been involved in any crime mysteries or murder scenes. Many Asian-Americans work at their own parent’s business whether it be small shops or big time corporations. Jing-nan is forced to work at his parent’s food stand in the night market. I always wondered how it would be for me if I worked in my parent’s hotel business. Writing this book has given me the chance to explore this idea of working in the family business.

Any advice for Asian-Americans who want to become authors?

You have to trust yourself and don’t be afraid to go against your parents if they disapprove of your passion. Because believe it or not in time they will understand. The key to writing is to learn how to get ideas from your mind to the page. You should read a lot and learn from other authors by analyzing their intent or purpose for using certain words opposed to others. Ask yourself was this author successful in delivering the intended message or idea? As a writer you have to believe what you are doing. It’s a long game. Writing a book requires mental strength. Just because you aren’t an established writer doesn’t mean you can’t become one. If you are a doctor you can write at night after work. If you really want to write you have to keep that part of yourself sacred.

Ed is an inspiration to Asian-Americans who want to diverge into the path of writing. Already an established journalist, he can now add author to that list. Look forward to Ed’s upcoming work because Jing-nan will have many more mysteries to unfold this is only the protagonist’s inception. From talking with him it’s evident that his passion for bettering Asian-Americans and informing people of the Taiwanese culture will push his career forward for many years to come.

Actress Cindy Cheung (wife of Ed Lin), Author Ed Lin

Susan Yu (Director of Taipei Cultural Center), Ed Lin

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