International Writer Special: C.M.Chang

DSC_7912 LS site

My book, published by Luitingh Sijthoff in the Netherlands, is a YA science fiction thriller:

  • Offworlder: The Boy From Cell Town (English)
  • Offworlder: De Jongen uit Celstad (Dutch translation)

I also have short stories published in anthologies. Links to those can be found at my website: cmchang.net.

 

Here’s a synopsis of Offworlder:

A deadly game against an offworlder. Who will win?

It’s 2150AD and NamJu, a 17-year-old Eurasian boy, is chosen to play an offworlder’s game with three challenges. The offworlder, who takes the form of a cheeky Asian girl and goes by the name, ‘Hui,’ promises him a wish if he finishes her game. For anything. He doesn’t take her seriously so Hui tortures him and threatens to kill everyone he cares about.

When Hui reveals the first challenge—learn to fly the SL 3000, the first superluminal spacecraft—NamJu thinks she must be out of her mind. How’s a poor, uneducated Cell Townie going to get his hands on one of those? To keep him focused, Hui puts Mia, the girl he has a secret crush on, into a coma.

As NamJu struggles to complete the first challenge, life as he knows it is over. Before Hui, everything was simple: having enough to eat and playing DeathZone, a virtual co-operative fighting game where the pain is part of the experience. Now a good day is one where no one is harmed.

And there’s still challenge number two and three.

 

 Questions & Facts

* My parents are from South Korea and moved to the USA for their postgraduate studies. They decided to remain in the States and I was born in Madison, Wisconsin, the cheese state of the USA. I’m now married with two children. The pets (2 fat goldfish) belong to my husband and children; I want nothing to do with them!

*I now live in Amsterdam, Netherlands. I grew up mostly in Michigan. Before I moved to Amsterdam, I lived in New York City.

*This might sound lame, but my favorite place is our home. It’s comfortable, squeaky clean and I know where everything is. Home is where I’m truly relaxed and happy. Yes, it’s boring, but there it is.

Book presentation at American Book Center

 

*Which non-existing place would you like to visit ?

For me it’s not a place, but a time. I’d love to visit the far future to see how far technology goes and whether humanity finally gets its act together. I hope we do!

 

*Your fave books and fave authors?

Difficult because there are so many! Books that stick out for me include The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell, The Stars My Destination by Alfred Bester and I adore pretty much all of the books by Robin Hobb, Jacqueline Carey, Suzanne Collins, JK Rowling and Pierce Brown.

 

*Where do you write your books?

Wherever, whenever I can. If I were only able to write in a quiet cabin in the woods, I would never get down a single word. Some of my best first-draft writing is while standing on the platform waiting for the train, typing madly with tons of typos on my smartphone. I prefer to write alone; all those people in a cafe or library setting would distract me.

 

*Do you write in Total silence, or listen to Music?

I rarely listen to music when I write. When I write, I try to immerse myself in the scene so in a way I’m ‘hearing’ everything in the story. My preference is some kind of background noise even if it’s just street life outside. Ideally I’d like one of those white noise machines.

 

*What inspires you?

Life in general, whether it be at work or home or pretty much anywhere. I often get ideas while walking, in nature or even on the treadmill. I draw ideas from my own personal experiences too. I often utilize the problems I see in the world and incorporate them into my writing.

 

*When you write, do you picture your characters in your mind (or creatures)?

Absolutely. I know how every character looks, how they sound, how they move, how they dress.

 

*What is your fave Genre in books?

Science fiction and fantasy. Always was. Always will be.

 

Do you have any plans for a new book?

I have three projects going on. One is the sequel to Offworlder. The second is a fantasy/SF series called FISH; it’s set in a matriarchal society with evil mermaids. The third is a fantasy that I’m co-writing with Leslie Lee. I’ve already co-written a science fiction story with Leslie—‘Cloud Monsters’—which was published in an anthology.

 

*Tell us something about your hobbies and interests.

I’m a geek. If I had more time, I’d be playing video games and sewing. Yeah, you heard that right. Sewing. I wish I didn’t need to sleep. There are too many cool, geeky things I’d like to be doing.

 

*Is there a person you admire? Celebrity? Or a fictional character?

Pretty much anyone who shows courage or helps others in need.

 

*Is there a character in your books you feel close to?

Tana Vanaard from Offworlder. I can relate to her the most: the smart girl and nerdy outsider. Tana is ostracized for her appearance as a result of Renz virus while I had to deal with a lot of racial prejudice growing up in middle-America at a time when there was no internet and when globalization and diversity were nonexistent terms. Tana develops a tough skin from her experiences, but inside she is very vulnerable. She’s also a task master, with ideas that she is determined to implement. We’re a lot alike.

 

*Do you also put in autobiographical aspects in your books? Yes? Which ones?

. NamJu, the main character in Offworlder, has a father who is tough on him, almost never satisfied with whatever he does. I took my own real life experiences with ‘tiger’ parents who were pushy and often quite negative and judgmental. Many of the things NamJu’s father said to him were actual words from my own parents. And Mia and Ian who are brother and sister in Offworlder are modeled a bit after my own children.

 

A note to your readers:

Writing saved me. I was nearing a serious burnout some seven years ago and I realized I missed having something creative in my life. I was only giving, giving, giving and needed to do something for me. If you are a creative person and you have no creative outlet, it’s like a slow death. I always loved science fiction & fantasy books, so I decided why not try writing them? I began with workshops, followed by intensive writing classes and writing groups. The whole time everyone told me not to expect anything out of it and ‘just do it as a hobby.’ I’m not a person that does something 50%. When I go for something, it’s all or nothing. And now I have a book out by the biggest publisher in the Netherlands in the science fiction & fantasy genre. Not bad, eh? So, don’t let people squash your dreams and passions. Do what makes you happy, even if it is as a part-time job or a hobby, and you will get there.

Book - The Sparrow

 

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