Tuesday, December 17, 2013

As 80's babies, were feeling nostalgic. Jennifer Chow takes us back to the 80's with her book, and talks more with Twinja Book Reviews!

We had a great opportunity to meet this author through a blog hop a few months back. Who would've guessed she wrote multicultural fiction? It's definitely not rare to see this is authors of color, but there is so much pressure to write "default" , that with a blog like ours, we cant help but notice when authors choose to write the stories they want to tell. Jennifer Chow is the author of "The 228 Legacy" , a tale depicting three generations of women of Taiwanese descent. Watch as her interview unfolds how this story came to be...

1. We've had the pleasure of meeting you through a blog hop! But for those of us who may not be familiar with you, what would you like audiences to know about you?

I’m an Asian-American writer, influenced by the Taiwanese and Chinese cultures. I also have a background in geriatric social work, so a lot of my stories feature older protagonists.

2. The 228 Legacy chronicles the lives of three generations of women in the same family. Why were each woman's stories important for you to tell?

I wanted to look at situations through the lens of multiple generations. Oftentimes, we experience the same event, but the way we perceive and react to something is different depending on our age and past experience. In The 228 Legacy, following the lives and emotions of three generations also gives a more holistic perspective of the family in the story.

3. What themes were you trying to capture with your novel? Why were these themes in particular to portray?

There are a lot of themes that run through my book. Some of the major ones include:
  • Effects of trauma trickling down through the generations
  • Complex relationships between mothers and daughters
  • Definition of family and the process of creating bonds with others

4. Your book is typically something we would have to search for all over the internet to find. Books depicting marginalized groups just don’t receive the type of marketing books featuring our white counterparts. Many authors of color aren't even aware that they avoid telling their own stories, to be more marketable. What was the decision that prompted you to write a book depicting a Taiwanese/American family?

I was inspired by family stories. When I heard relatives talking about the events related to 228, I wanted to capture some of their emotions in my novel. I also visited Taiwan several times and being in the country impressed me to write about the culture. 

5. Why do you feel as though only you could have written this story?

I think I have an interesting perspective as someone who recently learned about this story through my in-laws. I don’t have the emotional turmoil of directly undergoing those tough times, but as a second generation immigrant, I’m trying to reach out to others who may not know about Taiwan or its history. Also, I wanted to capture how a certain period in Taiwan had decades-long effects, and I believe that my familiarity with elders helped me depict realistic cross-generational relationships. 

6. What do you find are the biggest stereotypes about Asian-American families, or to narrow down the answer, Asian-American women, that you find in mainstream fiction?

There’s still an idea that Asians are the model minority, but really there are so many diverse types of people included in that racial category. In The 228 Legacy, I try to deliberately steer away from the usual stereotypes to present people in different light—as individuals. Asian-American women in stories tend to be very submissive, but with my grandmother character, Silk, I’ve created someone who is strong and very much a matriarch of her family. 

7. What if someone would like to center a story around a culture they don't particularly belong to, and just aren't exposed to enough people to make a decent judgment about a culture they have little access to. What is the best advice you could give someone hoping to broaden their writing with diversity, if they are not exposed to much?

The next best thing to flying over to another country and investing in a different culture is to connect with people who do have the expertise. This can be done in face-to-face talks, or with the Internet nowadays, research can be done online. There are many social media outlets and blogs available to check out. Also, don’t forget to invest in literature; reading multicultural non-fiction or fiction can be very enlightening.    

8. We see you bring up many interesting topics on your own blog Jennifer Chow Official Blog . Which do you believe is your most thought provoking post?

That’s a really hard question. I post twice a week: Mondays deal with a Chinese proverb and how it intersects with my life; those tend to delve into profound sayings. Fridays involve various ethnic dishes, as I think eating is an excellent way to dive into culture. A recent post that received a lot of discussion was called Wanted: SAF. It’s about a study showing Asian women as highly attractive candidates on one dating app; I had both private and public responses from Asian men, Asian women, and mixed individuals to that post. 

9. What has been your biggest milestone since becoming a published author?

Besides holding my printed book? I think a big milestone was being on TV. I had an interview on a cable channel; you can find it in the media section on my webpage: Jennifer Chow Media Page

10. We’re smitten! Where can those of us who have no idea where to go, find anything and everything Jennifer Chow?

Definitely on my author website, Jennifer Chow Official Website. I have links to frequently asked questions, the background behind my novel, my blog, and other exciting things. On social media, you can catch me on JenJChow Twitter LinkJennifer Chow's Facebook Page, Jennifer Chow's Goodreads Pages, and Jennifer Chow on Google +. I look forward to connecting with everyone! 

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