Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester is very happy to shine our Friday spotlight on Fiction (and non-fiction) author Kevin Chong. Kevin is the author of seven books of fiction and nonfiction, most recently the novel The Double Life of Benson Yu. He lives in Vancouver with his family and is an associate professor at the University of British Columbia Okanagan.
Welcome, Kevin. My first question to you is, where can people find your work? (Besides Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester–though they should totally check here first!)
My website: thatkevinchong.com
How can we follow your work and share your awesomeness?
Twitter and IG: thatkevinchong
For readers unfamiliar with your work, how would you describe what you write? What can readers expect from The Double Life of Benson Yu?
I write books in which the stories often are about the telling of stories. In The Double Life of Benson Yu, a writer tries to tell a story about his relationship as a boy with an enigmatic mentor figure, but we realize that he’s telling it in a way to evade the truth.
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?
The mentor figure, Constantine, is interested in samurais and there are Japanese swords in my book. So I attended classes in kendo and iaido—martial arts that use swords.
What was the biggest challenge in writing and putting out [newest release/spotlighted release]? How did you overcome that challenge?
There’s a twist in the story midway through it. I was writing the first draft and I realized the story had taken a strange turn from the one I started. I needed to rewrite the first part of the book so that the second part wasn’t so jarring. I tried a lot of things. Finally, I decided that the mysterious figure I reveal in part two is seen in part one.
What character did you love or hate the most while writing? And why?
There’s a character named C. in my novel, who is a cruel, irredeemable character. He does something really vile in the novel. And I wanted to write him enough that he has a dramatic effect in the story, but not a word more.
Writers very often have furry or feathered or otherwise non-human companions to “help” them through their work. Do you? What do you have? How do they “help” (or, “not-help”) with your writing?
We have cats nowadays, and they’re easier to care for, but I miss my old Labrador, Lexy, because the daily walks I needed to take her forced me away from the desk. Often getting fresh air was enough to help me get through a sticky part in a manuscript or allow me the space for a new idea.
What do you consider the most challenging part of the writing process? And how do you overcome that?
Self-doubt and putting every other task before writing. I think it’s important to make your writing goals bite-sized. Deadlines are extremely motivating too.
Thanks so much for taking the time to answer our questions, Kevin. I look forward to hearing more from you during our interview which will be shown on our YouTube channel.