Gold Mountain. The gods bless this woman - can I get an "Amen"?
Moi: Let's talk about Gold Mountain. It caused a bit of a stir over on the Narrative (in a good way, of course). I read that you wrote this when your publisher called for something to honor Black History month. What made you go the Blasian route?
Sharon: When Roz told me about the call for submissions and the editors asked for AA romances, I didn't know what I would write. I then remembered reading somewhere on the web that during the 19th century, several Asian males brought over to work the transcontinental railroad took African-American wives, some who were ex-slaves, some free. I thought that the story would offer an original perspective as it was both Blasian and interracial.
The reviews on Amazon all basically say the story is just too good and too short. I myself gasped when I realized it was over. Did the schedule influence the length of the book or was it exactly how you planned?
Yes, I was writing under a deadline, and to be honest, at times it was hard to get going because of real life issues. There were definitely points in the story where I struggled to move along. Again, I let my contractual obligations spur me instead of waiting for my inconstant muse.
I love your characterization of the leading characters. Leah and Quiang are an endearing pair; the reader really feels for them. How did you go about drafting these two?
They were simply born from my imagination. The one thing I wanted to avoid was writing an Asian character that was flat, one-dimensional and stereotypical. I wanted Quiang to be totally fleshed out and sympathetic, even though some of the life choices he made weren't the most moral. Research helped me out a lot with giving the characters backgrounds that defined them. I also tend to use visual placeholders for my characters as I'm writing them. In this case, I found pics of actors Daniel Henney and Freema Agyeman that helped me envision the characters.
Lawd, Daniel's fine. The reason I ask, by the way, is that one of the biggest criticisms of Asian/Asian American characters in America media is the asexual factor. Quiang, however, is very sexual; he brings his own set of tricks to bed. How did you go about writing this part of him?
Oh, that's an easy one. I simply thought of him as a fully sexual male. I don't buy into the media hype of one race of male being more sexually appealing than another. And as this is a romance, he was going to have to bring it.
One of the aspects of the story I really enjoyed was the language barrier and how you made a part of their romance. I felt touched by their communication. Was it difficult to work that out? How did you go about setting it up?
Thank goodness for online translators. I looked up several American-Chinese dictionaries to parse for the words I needed. Luckily, I found a page of Chinese love phrases that I took full advantage of.
I searched Loose ID for more Blasian novels; yours was the only one which came up. What do you think of that?
I hadn't realized that. I think what needs to happen is for more writers to submit manuscripts with Blasian characters. Loose-Id editors have stressed to me that nothing is forbidden. They just want good romance and erotica.
Will you continue to write more books in the Blasian genre? How do you feel about Gold Mountain's reception so far? Are you satisfied with the sales?
I never know what or who I'm going to write, but it is definitely a possibility. So far, sales have been less than optimal. I definitely would have liked for the book to have done better when it first came out. Unfortunately, some underground sites cut into sales to the point that I got very discouraged about continuing to write e-books. But I've had encouragement from fellow writers and readers, so I'm still hanging.
Read full interview here.