Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester is happy to shine our Friday spotlight on fantasy author and poet Brandon Ying Kit Boey.
Brandon, can you please tell us briefly a little about yourself and your writing?
My name is Brandon Ying Kit Boey. I write speculative novels which frequently feature aspects of Asian cosmology, fantasy, and locales. I also write poetry, and my work is often described as a more literary and lyrical style.
Where can people find your work? (Besides Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester–though they should totally check here first!)
My website is www.BrandonYingKitBoey.com. My novel, KARMA OF THE SUN can be found at Annie’s Book Stop and all awesome booksellers!
How can we follow your work and share your awesomeness?
You can follow me and my work through Instagram: @BoeyBooks and Twitter: @BrandonYKBoey. Feel free also to sign up for updates and drop me a line at my website at http://www.BrandonYKBoey.com!
What kind of research went into writing this book? What is your favorite research story? What cool facts and findings didn’t make it into the book, but you loved discovering?
I came across a lot of eastern religious texts and other sources that formed the foundation of so much of the mythos in Karma of the Sun. For example, I ended up using verses from The Lotus Sutra and the Pali Canon in the epigraphs. The Lotus Sutra is a book in the Tibetan Buddhist canon from the 1st century CE, which contains a lot of very beautiful stories and allegories about the path to enlightenment. The Pali Canon is an even older collection of texts believed to be from 29 BCE, including a sermon attributed to the Buddha about the earth’s apocalyptic fate due to seven suns that cause progressive ruin until the planet is destroyed, which of course is the backdrop of this novel.
What was the inspiration for KARMA OF THE SUN? What were the steps you took to bring it from initial inspiration to the finished book?
The story came from an initial picture I had one day of a teenage boy heading toward a hollowed-out mountain city that had grown into its shape through natural forces, sort of a primordial temple and sanctuary in an otherwise adulterated world. As I began writing the story, it reminded me of the stories of Mount Meru, Shambhala, and the real Mount Kailash. At the same time, I became more acquainted with Eastern eschatological traditions, which formed the perfect overlay and background to the story. The result was a story of the end of the world that takes place where a Tibetan would see it—a last civilization protected by the fortress walls of the Himalayas, until the end comes for them too.
What draws you to the particular genre or style that you write? What do you think draws readers to these kinds of books?
It’s kind of interesting that post-apocalyptic stories like KARMA OF THE SUN are as popular as they are. What is it that draws readers or viewers to such a dismal subject? My theory is that there is something cathartic about imagining the end, to think about what it would be like for ourselves. In a way, we will all face our own apocalypse. Are we prepared for it? In a post-apocalyptic story where you strip away the trappings of the world, what we’re left with are the things that matter the most. I think we sense that such a situation would be a refining process and we would see who we really are underneath the clutter and noise of the world. In these stories about death, we may find an epiphany about life. The trick is how we carry that revelation with us even before the end.
What is your favorite part of being a writer? Of the whole writing and publishing process? What do you think has been your greatest lesson in the journey thus far?
For me, being a writer is about time—the ability to live in and make sense of the moment. It helps me understand and exist in harmony with change. Writing is a way of capturing something that feels so fleeting, a way of dealing the trauma of change and loss.
How important has the New England setting been to your writing?
I love New England, and it has been an integral part of my writing. There’s something beautiful and calming and refreshing about its changing seasons. I was born in California and spent a lot of time growing up in places that were warm year-round, like Texas, Singapore, and Taiwan. They were wonderful in their own right. But for me, the changing seasons mirror a cyclicality that I feel attuned to, and it helps my creativity. Plus, what can be better for the creative psyche than an overcast New England Fall day, or a crisp, clear night at the start of winter?
What does your writing space look like? What do you need to have around you while writing or editing?
I used to be pretty particular about my physical writing space. But as a function of a busy work and family life, I’ve learned to have to write in situations that aren’t always the ideal. In my last job, I used to travel a lot, and at first it was distracting when trying to get into the right mindset, but then I found that I developed an ability to carry the story with me independent of the physical surroundings. Now my writing is more defined by time than the physical space. That’s not say that I wouldn’t love to write in a study with a library of books and a cozy fireplace.
While you’re writing, do you prefer music, silence, other? Please elaborate!
Great question! I’ve done both, depending on the situation. Music is such a powerful way to get into the mindset when it comes to worldbuilding. Early on in KARMA OF THE SUN, I found it helpful in establishing the mystical and stark tone of the post-apocalyptic Himalayan landscape. As the drafting progressed, however, I found it more helpful to have the music off so that I could listen to the sound of the words, which have a rhythm and music of their own.
Brandon, thanks for taking the time to answer our questions.