Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Interview with Sherri Chan

I am continuing my series of interviews with various characters from my serialized novel NEIGHBORS. Today I talk with Sherri Chan, featured in Volume 2 Stuck In the Neighborhood.

Tell us about your family.
I have one brother named Sherman. We are fraternal twins, so we are very close. We pretty much share everything with each other. There are very few secrets between us. We come from a very close knit extended family, as well. Sometimes it's hard to maintain my independence, but I know my family loves me and that's what comes first. 

Tell me more about your extended family. What kinds of things were you referring to when you mentioned your independence?
It's important to understand the family dynamics. My father is a third generation Chinese Canadian, but in many ways he is still very traditional. My mom comes from Hong Kong, so she is even more set in her ways in terms of cultural expectations. My parents help run two family businesses, along with my two uncles and their families - the 'Fortune Cookie' restaurant and a convenience store. My parents and one uncle still live above the store, along with my grandmother, Nai Nai. They have worked really hard in order for my brother and me to get a good education, so it's hard not to feel obligated. To live up to their high expectations.

That's twice that you used the word 'expectations'. Explain what you mean.
Oh, in terms of marriage and what not. Even though they have put a lot of effort into 'westernizing' us - making sure we got a good education and good paying jobs - they still expect us to find and marry someone that fits their approved list. Also, my mom expects us to make it to family dinner every Sunday night after the restaurant closes. It's a family tradition, and I don't mind usually. 

What would be on this 'list' as you call it.
I suppose number one if that he (or she - my mom has the same expectations for my brother Sherman) is Chinese, and preferably a Mandarine speaker. 

You mentioned the importance of education. What do you do for a living?
I teach Mathematics at one of the local colleges. I'm actually pretty proud of the fact that I'm the youngest professor on staff, not to mention that I'm one of just a handful of women. I managed to infiltrate the old boys club on three fronts.

What do you mean by three fronts?
I'm relatively young (I'm thirty by the way - I don't mind saying so), I'm female, and I'm Asian. Most of the staff are older white males. 

I see. I take it you are fairly proud of your accomplishments.
Of course, why wouldn't I be? I've worked hard to get where I am.

Do you see marriage and a family in your future?
Now you're sounding like my mother! Seriously, if the right guy came along, I am not opposed to it. I have been seeing someone for quite some time and he ticks all the boxes.

Explain what you mean by that.
Oh you know... Asian, successful... things like that. My mother approves.

You don't sound convinced. What about love?
I'm not sure I believe in love. My parents had an arranged marriage and they seem happy. On the other hand, I sometimes think I'm not meant to settle down. I have my career, which is very fulfilling, and I have my faith. That might be enough. Of course, don't tell my mother I said so. She wants grandchildren - now! She loves to remind me that my biological clock is ticking.

Thank you for letting us chat with you Sherri!

To find out if Sherri manages to navigate her family expectations and maintain her aloof attitude about love and marriage, check out Stuck In the Neighborhood - Volume 2 in the  NEIGHBORS Series. 

To read other interviews in this series:
Lester Tibbett's interview: (featured in New In the Neighborhood)
Coming interviews: 
Patsi Tibbett's interview: (featured in Sneaking Around the Neighorhood)
Tamara Spence's interview: (featured in Working the Neighorhood)
Steve Russell's interview: (featured in Skeletons in the Neighborhood)
Jed Malloy's interview: (featured throughout the series!)

Monday, July 28, 2014

Tattered Innocence

I haven't posted a book review in awhile, but this one is definitely worth talking about. It just might make my 'favourites' list for 2014, we shall see...

My review:

Ann Lee Miller has done it again in TATTERED INNOCENCE. Set in the tourist community of New Smyrna Beach, she’s woven a story so rich and complex that a mere book review can’t really do it justice. It is ultimately a story of God’s grace and forgiveness, told with authenticity and without sugar coating, yet in a touching and tasteful manner. Jake and Rachel are both emotionally wounded from past relationships and guilt ridden because of bad choices. Rachel signs on to Jake’s crew as a way to run and hide, but over the course of time her armor cracks, as does his. This is not a one-note romance with a neat and tidy outcome, however. As with all of Ms. Miller’s books, the characters runs deep, with emotional baggage that goes way beyond cliché. The description is superb, the dialogue true, and the storyline wallops the reader with unexpected surprises right to the very end. Ann Lee Miller has become one of my favorite authors, not only for the gritty and true to life stories she tells, but the way she tells them with such grace and poignancy.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Another Radio Appearance

On Monday, July 21, I was the guest on 'The G-Zone' talking about my NEIGHBORS Series - and a bunch of other random things! Check it out!

My 'interview' with Lester Tibbett, a character from this same series, also appeared on the 'Gelatiscoop' blog.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Small Town Girl

I just spent a week in my hometown after I travelled there for a family funeral. My aunt, the last of her generation in my family, passed away and I felt it important that I make the 1700km trip to pay my respects. I hadn't been back to Mossbank in two years and right away I noticed a lot of changes: a new grocery store, a new senior citizens' villa, several home renovations...

And yet, some things never change.

The tiny prairie town that I call ‘home’ – even some thirty years after leaving, is nestled in the expanse of rolling flat grassland in the southern part of Saskatchewan. The land and the sky are as much a part of my fibre as the people. To the untrained eye there is nothing here. But for those of us that grew up with the whisper of wind in the grass and the meadowlark's song, the vastness and simplicity strikes a nostalgic cord. 

The people are part of that nostalgia, too. Faces, recognizable despite the passage of time, greet me as I walk down the street, even though names are stuck somewhere in the recesses of my mind, dusty from lack of use. At the small town cafe, men and women still gather for their daily ten o'clock ritual called 'coffee row' - men at one long table and women at another. 

The community swimming pool, a welcome retreat on a hot prairie day, is just down the street from my sister's home. This is the same house where my grandmother lived when I was a child and where my mother moved after I left home. The joyful cacophony of squeals and splashes and the 'boing' of the diving board bring back memories of my own youth when I spent every afternoon enjoying the oasis. 

I walk past the school, a composite from Kindergarten to Grade 12. Once so large in my eyes, it now seems quite unassuming; a flat rectangle of brick that calls out to me with twelve years of memories. Trees line the streets, in places becoming a canopy overhead. Each one was planted and tended with loving care and I wonder how many more generations will be able to find shade underneath their leafy branches.

These are the streets that shaped me. The sounds that echo in my memory. The smells that conjure bygone days of anticipation for what life might bring. Coming back I cannot help but reflect. How I wished to get away from the monotony. The sameness. The insignificance of the place.

And now, coming back, my heart reaches out. These are my roots. My home. 

The setting for my novel WIND OVER MARSHDALE is taken from my hometown of Mossbank. Related posts: 
Hometown Inspiration
Childhood Memories Shape Your Writing

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Summer Reading Blog Tour - Interview with Lester Tibbett

Here is a fun interview with one of the characters from my series NEIGHBORS - part of a 'Blog Tour' by authors from HELPING HANDS PRESS.

What is your full name?
Lester Ray Tibbett. My parents were country people - old fashioned, and they named their kids accordingly. My sister's name is Patsi Mae. She hates it and goes by Pat, but I don't mind so much. You can call me Lester, or Lester Ray - just don't call me late for supper.

Very funny. I take it you and your sister are close?
Yes. I've been her guardian for the last nine years since our parents died. She was only nine at the time. I took over both the farm and the responsibility of looking after her. I suppose you could say I'm more of a father figure than a brother.  

That was quite a responsibility. Are you quite a bit older than she is?
I was twenty-three when my folks passed. You do the math.

So what brought a thirty-two year old boy from the country to the city of Calgary? (I did the math, as you can see...)
A combination of things. Bad debts (which I hate to admit) and old equipment, combined with several years of drought. Plus, Patsi finished school and it seemed like it was a good time to move so she could go to college. 

What are you doing now that you've moved?
I got a job with a big construction company called 'Titan'. They're in the process of building a high rise downtown. It's new work for me, but I've always been pretty handy, and I learn fast. And you don't grow up on a farm without knowing how to work hard.

Speaking of growing up on a farm, I hear you are also quite the rodeo cowboy. Is that true?
I've done my share. I used to ride broncs, but after an injury I gave it up. There wasn't really any money in it for me and let's be honest - it's a dangerous sport. I still love watching, though, and I don't mind getting back in the saddle just for fun.

Where is your favourite place to hang out in Calgary?
I go to this pub downtown called the 'Urban Cowboy' a lot with my friend Jed Malloy. I don't drink much, but I like to play pool and it also has one of those old school mechanical bulls, which is a hoot.

Is there anyone special in your life?
You mean besides Jesus?

Is that a joke?
No. I'm a Christian and not ashamed to say it. If you mean a special woman, maybe, but that might be privileged information.

I see. If you did have a girlfriend, what kind of woman would she be?
Down to earth, I guess. I'm a pretty down to earth kind of guy myself. Not too pretentious and not too needy. And obviously she'd have to share my values.

Doesn't sound too difficult, but then again you are over thirty and still haven't found her. Do you think you're being too choosy?
Absolutely not. I've been busy looking after the farm and raising my sister. I just haven't had time for a serious relationship. Now that Patsi is grown, I'm starting to think more about my own needs for companionship. A life partner.

More than anything else, what do you want in life?
To be happy. To see my sister settled. That's about it. Like I said, I'm not a very complicated sort of guy.   

Anything else you'd like to tell us about yourself?
That's about it, I guess. I'm not that comfortable talking about myself. I don't like being in the limelight. I just like to mind my own business and live a quiet life. 

Thanks for this interview, Lester. 

In fact, living a quiet life isn't really part of the equation for Lester. See how he deals with a rebellious sister, nosy neighbours, danger on the job site, and his attraction to a woman that probably wouldn't have made his 'must have' list... All in the continuing series NEIGHBORS.     

This has been part of a BLOG TOUR by various authors from 'Helping Hands Press'. Check out more on the tour below!

Monday, July 14 - Ruth L. Snyder
Tuesday, July 15 Cindy Noonan
Wednesday, July 16 Mishael Witty
Thursday, July 17 - Michele Huey
Friday, July 18 - Patti J. Smith
Saturday, July 19 - Amber Schamel
Sunday, July 20 - Mark Carver
Monday, July 21 - Marian Baay
Tuesday, July 22 - Jen Cudmore
Wednesday, July 23 - Tracy Krauss
Thursday, July 24 - Marcia Laycock
Friday, July 25 - Joy Davis
Saturday, July 26 - Travis Perry
Sunday, July 27 - Mark Venturini
Monday, July 28 – Iola Kirkwood
Tuesday, July 29 – Marsha Hubler