Hi everyone! I’m so excited to be on this tour for Love and Other Moods by Crystal Z. Lee!
Release Date: December 10th 2020
Genre: Adult, Coming of Age
Love and Other Moods is a coming-of-age story set in contemporary China, about falling in love, learning to adult, finding strength, and discovering one’s place in the world.
Naomi Kita-Fan uproots her life from New York to China when her fiancé’s company transfers him to Shanghai. After a disastrous turn of events, Naomi finds herself with no job, no boyfriend, and nowhere to live in a foreign country.
Amidst the backdrop of Shanghai welcoming millions of workers and visitors to the 2010 World Expo, we meet a tapestry of characters through Naomi: Joss Kong, a Shanghai socialite who leads an enviable life, but must harbor the secrets of her husband, Tay Kai Tang. Logan Hayden, a womanizing restaurateur looking for love in all the wrong places. Pan Jinsung and Ouyang Zhangjie, a silver-aged couple struggling with adapting to the ever-changing faces of their city. Dante Ouyang, who had just returned to China after spending years overseas, must choose between being filial and being in love. All their dreams and aspirations interweave within the sprawling web of Shanghai.
This multilayered novel explores a kaleidoscope of shifting relationships——familial friction, amorous entanglements, volatile friendships——in one of the most dynamic metropolises of the twenty-first century.
At what age did you decide to become a writer?
I’ve wanted to write for as long as I could remember–when I was 13 and moved from Taiwan to the US, and felt like a fish out of water. When I was 19 and my white college roommate said I came from “rice paddies.” When I was 23 and assaulted in New York City. When I was 26 and was told by my boss in Shanghai that I wasn’t good enough. And over the years, during the myriad of moments when I’d been disappointed by love and my heart had been shattered. And when I had met the one who put the pieces back together.
I finally forced myself to put the stories stored in the recesses of my soul to paper. Thus, Love and Other Moods was born.
What does your writing space look like?
I have two young children who tend to sneak into my writing nook and misplace my papers and books. Needless to say, mywriting space can get messy! I don’t always write in the same exact spot. Whenever an idea pops into my head I jot it down anywhere. I always have pens and paper in my purse!
What inspired the idea for your book?
I’ve always wanted to write a love story based in a city in East Asia. I spent nearly a decade in Shanghai, and I believe it’s one of the most romantic metropolises. Sure, Rome or Paris are iconic cities of love, but I think Tokyo or Taipei or Shanghai can be just as romantic.
Were the romantic relationships in the book based on people you had known in Shanghai?
Somewhat. Almost every character or situation was inspired by something that had happened in real-life. For example, I had known people in China whose family were opposed to them dating a Japanese person because of what had happened during World War Two. I knew some Joss and Tay types, where the second generation was loosely connected to the government in some capacity yet decided to date outside of their circle. I also knew many Logans in China—western men who had moved to Shanghai and treated the city as their personal playground. Although many foreigners have left China recently ahead of the pandemic, there is still a sizable expatriate contingent in Shanghai. Many of my friends are still there, and have married or are dating somebody from China.
Love and Other Moods is based in Shanghai, a city you had once lived and worked at. What’s your favorite thing about Shanghai?
I love that Shanghai is a city of contrasts. You can see its history and modernity coexisting everywhere in that metropolis. There are ancient temples right alongside skyscrapers, traditional food stalls outside of fancy restaurants. It’s a city that attracts people from every walk of life, from all corners of the globe.
Explain the Chinese characters on your book cover and on the photos inside of the book.
The four characters on the book cover literally translated, means “romantic journey in the neon city.” Inside the novel are four photos, which serve as dividers to the four parts of the book. Soeach Chinese character is represented in each part of the book: “romance,” “journey,” “neon,” “city.” Indeed Love and Other Moods is a romantic story about journeys and voyages, both literally and figuratively for the characters. Naomi crosses oceans and borders, and in the process, learns and grows as a person.
What is the most difficult part of your writing process?
I wrote this novel while taking care of my young firstborn and pregnant with my second. Trying to find the time to write and balancing motherhood was a challenge.
Favorite and least favorite part of the writing process?
Favorite process is the writing journey itself.
Least favorite process is pitching the manuscript.
What’s your favorite reading or writing drink?
I like to settle in a good book with mostly tea–milk tea, boba, or hot tea such as matcha, pu’er, tieguanyin. However during the many, many 3am writing sessions (when the majority of my book was written), then I’d resort to coffee.
What are some tried-and-true writing techniques for transporting the reader?
I’m a firm believer in personally visiting any location or backdrop you’re writing about, or at least conducting very thorough research. When I travel to a new place, my routine is to take a massive amount of photographs and videos, buy local artisan crafts and memorabilia, and if possible, I try to visit the region’s bookstore to find unique reads sold only locally. When it comes to writing the scene, I gravitate towards setting the atmosphere with descriptions of the location’s five senses–sights, sounds, scents, touch and tastes. Sometimes I create a mood board which helps me to visualize a setting. And when in doubt, have someone that lives there or has been to that location read your work.
How do you develop your plot and characters?
For me, visualization is an essential element to my writing. I try to visualize what my characters look like, where they live, how they grew up etc. Once I have that picture established, the rest of the writing flows a bit more easily.
Does writing energize or exhaust you?
I think writing can be both exhilarating and exhausting. When I’m on deadline then I get stressed out. But personally I can’t imagine NOT writing. It’s integral to my everyday now.
What is the most valuable piece of advice you would give aspiring writers?
Never give up. Keep on writing even if you only have one person reading your work. Also, be kind to yourself.
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1st Prize: Love and Other Moods curated gift box filled with items related to the novel ($50 value) (US Only)
2nd Prize: Physical copy of LOVE AND OTHER MOODS by Crystal Z. Lee (INT)
About the Author:
Crystal Z. Lee is a Taiwanese American bilingual writer. She has called many places home, including Taipei, New York, Shanghai, and the San Francisco Bay Area. She was formerly a public relations executive who had worked with brands in the fashion, beauty, technology, and automotive industries. “Love and Other Moods” is her first novel.
For the next stops on the tour you can visit Favourite Pages.
Happy reading until next time,