Interview With An Author: Jamie Ford

by | May 13, 2015 | Interview With An Author, Other Helpful Information, The Writing Life | 17 comments

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In our Interview With An Author series, Writer’s Relief asks professional writers to share their tried-and-true secrets for publishing success.

Jamie Ford

Jamie Ford is the author of the New York Times best-selling novel Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, which won the 2010 Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature and has been translated into thirty-four languages. Having grown up near Seattle’s Chinatown, Ford now lives in Montana with his wife and children. Jamie’s latest novel Songs of Willow Frost was published in March 2014.

CONTEST: Leave a comment below by May 20th, and you’ll be entered to win a copy of Jamie’s book Songs of Willow Frost! U.S. residents only. This contest is now closed. Congratulations to our winner, Janet! Thank you to all who participated!

In a blog post back in January, you wrote that you were very close to finishing your next book, which you described only as “heartmelting.” We’re intrigued; will you tell us a little more about it?

And I’m done!

*dancing wildly about my office*

Ah, the heartmelting thing. Hmmm…I guess I see storytelling in terms of banking and spending emotional currency. So this new one is going to make some withdrawals with the reader along the way that will be paid off in the end—hopefully with interest.

Every writer has to learn how the publishing business works. How did you do it?

In 2006 I was accepted to Orson Scott Card’s Literary Boot Camp, and also the Squaw Valley Writers Conference. Both were incredibly helpful—just being immersed in the biz, surrounded by other writers, was amazing. Also, having the best agent in the business helps (I’m looking at you, Kristin Nelson).

What role does social media play in staying connected to readers and/or building an audience?

If you’re comfortable being accessible, then by all means do it, and do it sincerely. I love it. And it can help with top-of-mind awareness—but it’s easily overdone. No one wants to follow someone on Twitter who’s pimping their book 24/7.

What was the biggest stumbling block or frustration for you so far, and how did you overcome it?

My second book was a challenge, because suddenly I had the new expectations of an agent, an editor, a publisher, readers in dozens of countries—it was a very self-conscious undertaking.

But I went back to a quote from Harlan Ellison: “Write for the wisest, wittiest, most intelligent audience in the universe. Write for yourself.”

Fill in the blank. Rejection is____________.

Rejection is a badge of honor. It means you’re trying. Some people never try. Some people never make it out of bed. The year that Babe Ruth set the record for home runs, he also set the record for strikeouts. You gotta swing for the fences.

In one sentence, what’s your best piece of advice for getting a book published?

Don’t be a writer, be a storyteller.

About Songs of Willow Frost

Twelve-year-old William Eng, a Chinese American boy, has lived at Seattle’s Sacred Heart Orphanage ever since his mother’s listless body was carried away from their small apartment five years ago. On his birthday, William and the other orphans are taken to the historic Moore Theatre, where William glimpses an actress on the silver screen who goes by the name of Willow Frost. Struck by her features and her voice, William is convinced that the movie star is his mother, Liu Song.

Determined to find Willow and prove that his mother is still alive, William escapes from Sacred Heart with his friend Charlotte. The pair navigates the streets of Seattle, where they must not only survive but confront the mysteries of William’s past and his connection to the exotic film star. The story of Willow Frost, however, is far more complicated than the Hollywood fantasy William sees onscreen. Shifting between the Great Depression and the 1920s, Songs of Willow Frost takes readers on a sweeping emotional journey that will resonate with anyone who has ever longed for family and a place to call home.

Follow Jamie on Twitter and check out his website!

CONTEST: Leave a comment below by May 20th, and you’ll be entered to win a copy of Jamie’s book Songs of Willow Frost! U.S. residents only. This contest is now closed. Congratulations to our winner, Janet! Thank you to all who participated!

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17 Comments

  1. E M. Hector

    Book sounds intriguing. Would like to read this adventure from the children’s viewpoint.

    Reply
  2. Julia Peacock

    Immensely enjoyed listening to Jamie speak at CATE conference in February. Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet was so beautifully written that I sincerely look forward to Songs of Willow Frost and anxiously await the release of the new book. Jamie also told me he’s soon venturing into YA, which will be great for my 9th grade students. Your characters’ voices are so rich and real, Mr. Ford!

    Reply
  3. TWoo

    YAY!! New book. New book, new book!

    Reply
  4. Jamie Ford

    Hi folks…if you have more questions, please ask away! 🙂

    Jamie

    Reply
  5. Ruth

    I’m currently reading “Songs of Willow Frost” and I cannot put my kindle down. I especially loved your quote of being a storyteller, not just a writer. Thank you, Jamie! For being the best damn storyteller today!

    Reply
  6. Larry Weiner

    I rëälly ënjöyëd thë intërviëw.

    Reply
  7. Joy Pruitt

    I totally enjoyed both of your books. I read “Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet” just after moving to Twin Falls, ID. I discovered, in your book that the Minidoka Camp, (Hunt Camp) was just 15 minutes from my new house. I drove over there the very next day. Thank you for such a wonderful stories with significantly impactful history. Looking forward to more!

    Reply
  8. Cally

    I can’t wait to read your new book, Jamie. You are pretty great for so many reasons. Did you always want to be a writer? What did you do before? What made you write Hotel, and how long did it take you?

    Reply
  9. Paula

    I enjoyed both of your books and I’m looking forward to your next story! Any chance the stage version of ‘Hotel’ is coming to Denver??

    Reply
  10. Kim Paxinos

    I am partial to historic novels, especially involving Asians (like Jaimie, I am 1/2 Chinese myself). Like so many of Jaimie’s fans, I cannot get enough! In fact, if he needs a muse, I would like to offer up my mother! Is it wrong to say you “love” someone you’ve never met? I am having restless nights waiting for the new book to be published. I am hoping Jaimie has started with a fourth book by now, too!

    Reply
  11. Jamie Ford

    Hi Cally…I actually have a degree in art and design, so I worked for years as an art director and later as a creative director (think MadMan with less booze and sex in the office). But I was always writing on the side. Hotel took about a year to write, including the research, which actually took longer than the writing. My dad wore one of those I AM CHINESE buttons as a kid, so that was the impetus for the story 🙂

    Reply
  12. Jamie Ford

    Hi Paula,

    I’d love of the play to make it to Denver. Right now it’s in the hands of the director, so it’s up to her and her availability, and also the desire of a local production company. You never know… 😉

    Reply
  13. Nancy J. Hammer

    I loved Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet. Wonderful story-telling. Am looking forward to reading Songs of Willow Frost.

    Reply
  14. Janet K Brown (@janetkbrowntx)

    Great interview. I enjoyed it, Jamie. It is a learning process, for sure. I love your definition of rejection. Mine would be that it’s humbling. I’d love to win your book.

    Reply
  15. Kim s

    Enjoyed the interview and, after reading the synopsis of the book, am curious to find out how William’s adventures turn out.

    I also love the advice about being a storyteller. We all love stories and the best ones stick with us for life.

    Reply
  16. Mary Krakow

    I love the name Willow Frost. Sounds like a great read.

    Reply
  17. Sydney

    “Rejection is…”
    A reminder that my identity as a writer isn’t rooted in publishing!

    Thanks for sharing your wisdom 🙂

    Reply

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