Friday, January 25, 2013

Blog Tour: Flesh by Khanh Ha

This virtual book tour is presented by Teddy Rose.
The entire tour schedule is at the bottom of this post.
Welcome to The Wormhole and my day on the tour.
It is my pleasure to feature Khanh Ha and Flesh.

Khanh has joined us for an interview.

 ? When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
I write because I was born with a desire to work with words. That desire had matured in me and become an extension of myself in the form of words. There was no plan and there was no ‘why’. You write because the urge to write has always been within you since you were a young boy. Then when you had enough vocabulary and your thoughts have become more refined, you were then driven to put them down in words. I wrote my first short story when I was a young teen. I won a magazine’s short story contest and was the youngest among the guests to accept the prize. Between seventh and tenth grades, I wrote a lot of short stories, each of them paying good money. I also translated stories in English into Vietnamese and sold them to newspapers and periodicals.

? What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?
I must have the first sentence down right. Dead right. Every word, every cadence in that first sentence must be right. I torture myself to death before I start a novel, a new chapter, on how to get that sentence written the most truthfully, i.e, no falsity in the voice, in the cadence.

? Do you have a routine that you use to get into the right frame of mind to write?
A routine helps settle your mind before you write. Mine is to eat a light breakfast and  be at my desk between 7:30 – 8 AM. I drink black coffee throughout the morning while I’m at work―no snacks. I listen to classical or relaxation music while I write. I read during my writing breaks. Have lunch, read a newspaper, then back at work until 4 PM.  That’s the capsule of a day in a life of a writer. And it starts over again the next day. If a novel takes a year or longer to write, the routine of each day is duplicated over and over again like clockwork.

? Where do you write and how do you write ~ on paper, typewriter or computer?
A quiet room with a view over the back hillthough I’m not a bird watcher. A room with a bookcase, a desktop computer, a desktop phone, a cell phone, both of which I wish to never ring during my writing. On the wall facing me a painting of a stream in autumn. And a thermos of black coffee. I write electronically, i.e., using a computer. It makes editing, revising much more effective and it helps save your thoughts in marginal notes when you use MS Word.

? Where do you get your ideas or inspiration for your characters?
A passion for something, then an image. A flame burning low for many years . . . never dying. It starts when you would glimpse people moving around like specters; these would later become characters in your novel. You would see the locales, colorful flashes of them, you could smell them. . . . Then the plot began to form, at times you would interfere, at times you would back off. The moment you could hear your characters speak, see their mental faces, see the beginning, the end of your story, you’re ready to write it.

? Where does a book start for you ~ characters, plot, ending?
It’s always the characters. With literary fiction, you deal with characters more than with plots. You deal with spontaneity and dynamics of characterization which shapes the story line. You don’t shoehorn your characters into a predetermined plot. Depth of characterization is the heart of a literary novel in addition to the mood, the atmosphere, the ambience, the prose. But for me a book starts with a beginning and an end, both of those I must know like the starting point and the destination of a road trip. Anything in between will come into being once I begin writing.

? What are you reading right now?
A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest Gaines. This is the type of books that answers the next question: What makes a good story? Read it and find out how Enest Gaines handles characterization in a literary novel. In fact, he portrays every person he creates as real, as sympathetic, as interesting, and as formidably moving as a grand master of fiction would do.

? What do you think makes a good story?
The characters, of course. They don’t have to be sympathetic, but they must be engaging, interesting in an inspiring or wicked or perverted way like Lester Ballard in Cormac McCarthy’s Child of God. But don’t take anything you read seriously. When you do, when it really knocks you out, “you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could call him up on the phone whenever you felt like it.” Don’t you love a reader like Holden Caulfield in The Catcher in the Rye?

? What book, if any, do you read over and over again?
Let me put that in plural. There are books that I would pick up to read again in my leisure. These are books that for many years have been imprinted in my mind—of very real characters, of human nature, of human twists of fate. As a teen I read The Izu Dancer by Yasunari Kawabata, Rain by Somerset Maugham, and The Snows of Kilimanjaro, The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber by Hemingway. They haunt like a good long book. I read A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest Gaines, Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes (my creative writing professor at Ohio University), Suttree by Cormac McCarthy and I was in awe of their psychological complexity, and I read The Sound and the Fury by Faulkner and found myself envying him. All these have influenced me.

? Are you a “plotter” or a “pantser”?[1]
I write literary fiction. With literary fiction, you deal with characterization more than with plot. But you need a plot like a highway so your characters can get from A to B while interacting with one another. That said, plot complements characterization, like  a light dessert that complements a rich meal. You deal with spontaneity and dynamics of characterization which shapes the story line. You don’t shoehorn your characters into a predetermined plot. Depth of characterization is the heart of a literary novel in addition to the mood, the atmosphere, the ambience, the prose.

Fun random questions: 
·        dogs or cats?
·        Coffee or tea?
·        Dark or milk chocolate?
Milk chocolate
·        Rocks or flowers?
·        Night or day?
·        Favorite color?
·        Crayons or markers?
·        Pens or pencils?
Flesh by Khanh Ha

Amazon Product Description:
The setting is Tonkin (northern Vietnam) at the turn of the 20th century. A boy, Tai, witnesses the beheading of his father, a notorious bandit, and sets out to recover his head and then to find the man who betrayed his father to the authorities. On this quest, Tai's entire world will shift. FLESH takes the reader into dark and delightful places in the human condition, places where allies are not always your friends, true love hurts, and your worst enemy may bring you the most comfort. In that emotionally harrowing world, Tai must learn to deal with new responsibilities in his life while at the same time acknowledging his bond, and his resemblance, to a man he barely knew-his father. Through this story of revenge is woven another story, one of love, but love purchased with the blood of murders Tai commits. A coming-of-age story, but also a love story, the sensuality of the author's writing style belies the sometimes brutal world he depicts.

Flesh Tour Schedule

Teddy So Many Precious Books          Jan 7 Interview & Giveaway
Stephanie Eclectic Books & Movies  Jan 8 Review            
Stephanie Eclectic Books & Movies  Jan 9 Interview
Lori She Treads Softly  Jan 10 Review                                                     
Paula Book Lover Stop  Jan 11 Guest Post & Giveaway
Patty Broken Teepee Jan 14 Review                                                     
MK McClintock  Jan 15 Interview
Joy Story  Jan 16 Review             
Shoshanah From L.A. to LA  Jan 17 Review                                                           
Stephanie IMiraculous! Jan 17 Guest Post & Giveaway
Rebecca  A Book Lover's Library Jan 22 Review                                                   
Rebecca  A Book Lover's Library Jan 23 Interview & Giveaway
Jennifer Relentless Reader  Jan 23 Review                                                         
Joy Story Jan 25 Guest Post
Bev The Wormhole  Jan 25 Interview
Valerie Sweeps 4 Bloggers  Jan 25 Review & Giveaway
Kathy Ordinary Girlz Reviews  Jan 28 Review & Giveaway                                                             
Katherine Cuzinlogic Jan 29 Interview & Giveaway
Kelly Belle of the Literati Jan 30 Review                                                 
D. Ann Overflowing Bookshelves  Feb 1  Review
D. Ann Overflowing Bookshelves   Feb 4 Interview
Gina's Library  Feb 4 Spotlight/Giveaway
Jessica Crossroads  Feb 5 Review
Patty Broken Teepee  Feb 5 Guest post & Giveaway
Harvee Book Bird Dog  Feb 6 Guest Post