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Interview with JC Kang

He has an unhealthy obsession with Fantasy and Sci-Fi began at an early age when his brother introduced him to The Chronicles of Narnia, Star Trek, and Star Wars. As an adult, he combines his geek roots with his professional experiences as a Chinese Medicine doctor, martial arts instructor, and technical writer to pen epic fantasy stories.

Q.1 Tell us something about yourself not many people know?
I was an early adopter of hybrid and electric cars, having bought a Prius in 2006, a Plug-In Prius in 2012, a Nissan Leaf in 2014, and a Prius Prime and Kia Niro EV this year.

Q.2 Do you have any upcoming books?
Yes! Dragon Charmer’s Apprentice comes out this September. Following a slave girl who has the spark of magic, it reshapes some of the myths that readers of my Dragon Songs Saga have heard about.

Q.3 When did you decide to write The Dragon Songs Saga series?
In 2010! I had found my old Dungeons and Dragons world in my mom’s house and spent a week recreating it. Since my players never followed the script I planned out, I decided to write stories instead, only to find out that as characters become more “alive,” they don’t follow scripts, either.

Q.4 How do you come up with the name of your books?
I usually use “XXX of XXX” and come up with the nouns based on the theme of the story. Then I bounce several candidates off readers and author friends.

Q.5 If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
There will be a global pandemic in 2020, so be prepared to release a lot of books because people will be stuck at home and bored.

Q.6 How do you select the name of your characters?
For the Chinese characters, it’s often based on the meaning and sound I want to convey. For others, I go through baby names.

Q.7 What do you find difficult about writing Asian Myths and Legends?
To be honest, not much. Since I don’t follow actual myths and legends, I don’t feel bound by set canon. At the same time, I’ve been immersed in East Asian media for 20 years, so I feel I can be fair about representing cultures and peoples without bias.

Q.8 How long does it take you to write a book?
That depends on how inspired I am. I wrote the rough draft of my first book in three weeks-150k words. But sometimes, it can drag out to a year or more.

Q.9 What were your feelings when you first saw the cover of the finished product?
I was so excited! My head was in the clouds. This, even though the cover was totally wrong for the story. In the end, I had to change it. But even now, I still get excited to see the cover art for my stories.

Q.10 What is one stereotype about YA writers is absolutely wrong? What one stereotype is dead on?
I don’t consider myself a YA writer.

Q.11 Do you have any unique and quirky writing habits?
Maybe if I did, like, talking to myself through the dialog, I would be more productive. Sadly, I’m very vanilla in my writing habits.

Q.12 Do you believe in writer’s block? If yes, how do you deal with it?
Do I believe in it? I could be the picture in the dictionary entry for Writer’s Block! I deal with it by procrastinating. Which is to say, I don’t deal with it.

Q.13 If you could be a member of any fantasy race, which would you choose and why?
An elf, for sure. I’ve been enamored with elves ever since reading the Dragonlance Chronicles as a 13-year-old. They seem to have such fun, carefree lives, and they’re all beautiful.

Q.14 What is your favorite book from other authors and why?
A. Six of Crows
by Leigh Bardugo. I just read it this year and was so blown away by how well she wrote “found family” and damaged characters that it killed my own writing Mojo. I felt like I had no business writing.

Q.15 How do your family/friends feel about your book or writing venture in general?
As long as it isn’t losing money, my family is fine with it.

Q.16 How do you develop your plots and characters? Do you use any set formula?
I wish I did! Maybe then, I would be more productive. As it is, I know how a story will start, a few plot points, and the ending, and I know how I want the characters to change… but then it’s a matter of making it happen.

Q.17 What advice do you have for aspiring authors?
Read a lot and join a critique group. I learned so much from reading other aspiring authors, mostly by seeing what I DIDN’T Like in their stories and then recognizing that I had similar issues.

Q.18 What is the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?
There are certain things we can logically understand about the opposite sex, but never having experienced some situations and having different hormonal/chemical makeup, it’s hard to capture emotional reactions. I always ask women beta readers if they feel the female characters feel real and fleshed out to them.

Q.19 How many books have you written? Which one is your favorite?
I’ve written seven full novels, six novellas, and several short stories. My favorite is the first I ever wrote, now titled Dances of Deception.

Q.20 Share the experience of your journey so far?
As with anything, there’s a learning curve. Plenty of ups and downs, but overall, it’s been rewarding.

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