Jamie   Ford   author   of      Love   and   Other   Consolation   Prizes   and   Hotel   on   the   Corner of   Bitter   and   Sweet   talks   to   us   about   his   new   book,   his   writing   philosophy   and   what 2042 will possible look like JBN:   What   was   your   experience   publishing   your   first   book?      Has   it   changed your way of writing?   Jamie   Ford:   It's   like   a   visit   to   the   therapist   because   they're   very   deep   questions. The   thing   is   when   I   wrote   my   first   book,   I   didn't   have   any   expectation.   I   didn't   have   a built-in    audience.    I    wrote    it    really    without    anyone    watching    me    and    that    was wonderful.   Then,   with   my   second   book   because   my   first   book   did   so   well,   I   had   a   lot of   pressure   from   my   publisher,   not   so   much   my   agents.   At   my   publisher,   there   was lots   of   people   that   all   wanted   to   know   what   I   was   working   on.   It   made   me   very   self- conscious   as   I'm   writing.   Then   with   my   third   book,   it   was   a   similar   situation   where   I signed   a   larger   contract   so   there's   a   financial   expectation,   I   guess,   to   succeed. Beyond   all   of   that,   I   just   put   lots   of   pressure   on   myself   and   so   it   definitely   slowed   the process   down.   I   actually   think   I   became   a   better   writer   because   I'm   learning   more   as I   work   my   way   through   the   editing   process.   But   because   I'm   a   better   writer,   I'm   a slower   writer   and   so   that's   been   different.   The   first   book,   I   really   just   cranked   it   out and   the   second   book   has   taken   me   a   long   time.   The   new   book   I'm   working   on,   I'm really   slow   at   the   moment.   That's   a   little   weird. Also,   I   have   a   readership   now,   I   have   an   audience   and   I'm   always   torn   between,   "Do   I just   write   whatever   I   want   to   write?"   Which   I   tend   to   do,   or   do   I   factor   in   what   people   are   expecting   from   me.   I   battle   that   sometimes because   I   feel   like   people   expect   this   certain   type   of   book   and   if   I   do   something   completely   different,   then   they   won't   work.   But   at   the end   of   the   day,   I   have   to   write   for   myself   and   I   have   to   think   of   myself   as   artist   and   just   do   what   I   want   to   do   and   hope   my   readers follow   me.   I   don't   want   to   recycle   the   same   books   over   and   over   again.   The   new   book   I'm   working   on   is   a   little   different   than   what   I normally   do.   Also,   I'm   Asian-American   and   I   really   feel   I   need   to   tell--There   was   a   moment   where   I   thought   maybe   I'll   write   about something   else   but   there   are Asian-American   stories   that   aren't   being   told.   Unless   someone   else   is   going   to   tell   them,   I   feel   a   cultural obligation to tell them because they're important stories JBN: What do I write about in a new book? Jamie   Ford:   This   new   book   will   deal   a   little   bit   with   a   couple   things;   one   is   the   Chinese Exclusion Act   so   it   was   passed   in   1882   and   it   didn't   but   we   have   been   recruiting   Chinese workers   for   decades   and   then   it   cut   that   off   because   they   were   competing   for   jobs   and then   they   would   what   Chinese   people   become   citizens   and   so   it's   a   little   bit   about   that   bit of   history.   I   like   the   history   that   people   don't   think   about   very   much   like   my   parents,   they couldn't   get   married   in   my   mom   home   state   of   Arkansas   because   it   was   illegal   in   13 Southern   States.   Inter-racial   marriage   was   illegal   until   1967   and   so   people   forget   that that's   not   like   a   100   years   ago,   that   was   just   not   that   someone's   lifetime   and   so   part   of   it will   dealt   with   a   decision,   it's   called   the   loving   decision   because   the   couple's   last   name was   actually   Loving.   I'm   sorry,   white   man   and   a   black   woman   got   married   and   then   they were   arrested   and   then   they   have   to   leave   the   state   otherwise   they   go   to   prison.   It   will deal   a   little   bit   about   inter-racial   marriage.   Those   are   the   things   that   I'm   fascinated   by because   people   just   accepted   it   for   so   long   but   no   big   deal   like   yeah   they   can   get   married just   he   is   great   but   you   can't   marry   him   or   she's   wonderful   but   you   can't   marry   her because   she's   black   and   or   Jewish   or   something   like   that.   Because   it   affected   my   family and   my   parents   are   gone   so   I   tend   to   write   about   things   that   happened   to   them   and   it   sort of   brings   me   closer   to   them   to   appreciate   what   they   went   through   and   so   I'm   working   on that   story   about   those   issues.   I   don't   want   to   write   like   a   political   book   or   anything   but   just a family struggle against certain things that were the norms of that time. JBN: I am more than sure your audience will love it…   Jamie   Ford:   I   hope   so.   There's   a   lot   of   authors   that   just   crank   books   out   to   make   money and   they   do   great   like   James   Patterson   or   some   other,   they   just   crank   out   this   really terrible   books   but   they   make   people   happy.   They're   kind   of   like   McDonald's   hamburgers,   they   just   come   and   go.   There's   not   a   lot   to them.   There's   not   a   lot   of   nutritional   value,   there's   not   a   lot   of   taste   or   care   but   they're   convenient.   I   tend   to   want   to   write   not something   for   everyone   but   everything   for   someone   and   so   I'm   really   specific   in   what   I'm   working   on.   I   don't   mean   that   to   sound overly   artsy   but   that's   the   way   I   look   at   it.   I   just   really,   I   would   rather   form   my   partner's   real   book   and   have   a   really   good   story   in   a well-crafted   book   than   just   crank   something   out   so   I   could   break   out   more   books.   I   wish   I   could   break   faster,   I   wish   I   could.   Some authors have a book a year. I just can't quite do that. JBN:   I   was   very   touched   by   the   moment   in   your   first   book,   when   the   parents   of   protagonist   forbidden   him   to   speak   Chinese at   home.   So   he   practically   stopped   talking   with   his   parents   who   did   not   know   English   or   any   other   language.   Is   this   a   real story? Jamie    Ford:    Actually    my    dad    had    the    opposite    of    that.    My    dad    was    100% Chinese.   He   spoke   Chinese   fluently   but   he   was   not   allowed   to   speak   English   at home.   Even   though   he   was   sent   to   public   schools   where   he   was   supposed   to speak   English   at   home.   My   grandma   wanted   him   to   retain   the   Language.   Then, she   sent   him   to   Chinese   school   after   public   school,   to   a   different   school,   to   learn what   we   call   city   Cantonese.   He   had   a   very   country   accent   and   my   grandma   was embarrassed   of   her   accent.   She   wanted   you   to   sound   sophisticated   and   not sound   like   you   grow   up   on   a   farm   or   something   like   that   so   he   had   to   relearn Chinese   and   he   hated   it.   I   mean,   later,   he   can   speak   it   fluently   so   it's   great.   I never,   I   took   German,   I   never   took   Chinese.   He   didn't   want   me   to   learn   because he wanted me to be as Americans for good. JBN: What brought you in Montana? Jaime   Ford:   Before   Montana,   I   was   working   and   living   in   Hawaii.   I   write   full   time now   but   before   that,   I   worked   in   advertising   so   I   worked   for   an   ad   agency.   The   ad agency   I   worked   at   in   Hawaii   did   a   lot   of   stuff   for   Hawaii   Tourism,   it's   a   big industry.   I   was   offered   a   job   to   come   here   and   work   on   Montana   Tourism   which   is a   big   part   of   our   industry   and   state.   I   also   wanted   to   be   a   writer.   I   really   wanted   to try   and   put   time   into   it.   I   figured   if   I   could   live   in   a   small   town   and   not   have   a   long commute.   I   have   more   time   to   write   and   try   to   figure   it   out   and   that's   really   what   I do. JBN: Wonderful, and do you like to live here, in Great Falls? Jaime   Ford:   Yes   and   no.   I   love   Montana.   Great   Falls,   I   really   like   it   here   because   the   people   are   really   nice,   not   very   pretentious, very   kind   and   helpful.   It's   a   blue-collar   town.   Even   though   Bozeman   and   Missoula   are   the   sexier   towns,   there's   more   culture   and   so but   even   with   that,   I   don't   think   I   would   move   to   one   of   those   towns.   I   spent   a   lot   of   time   hiking   and   going   up   into   the   Rocky Mountains   and   glacier.   Great   Falls   is   so   close   to   all   of   that.   We've   thought   about   moving   on   now   like   maybe   in   the   winter,   spending part   of   our   time   in Arizona   because   it's   so   beautiful   down   there   in   the   winter   time,   it's   just   perfect.   If   we   could   split   our   time,   that   will   be grateful.   We're   thinking   about   that.   Let's   see.   I   have   so   many   friends   here.   It's   hard   to   leave   once   you   create   a   network   of   people   that you   spent   time   with. As   a   writer,   I   travel   everywhere   and   so   it's   really   nice   just   to   come   home   and   just   be   very   quiet,   very   simple.   I   go to   big   cities   all   the   time   so   I   don't   have   this   desire   to   go   to   Chicago,   Seattle,   Los Angeles   or   New   York   because   I   go   anyway.   I   go   all the time. JBN: Do your children read your books? Jaime   Ford:   [laughter]   Yes.   When   they   were   a   little   bit,   when   they   were   teenagers,   there   could   just   buy   at   teenagers   and   it's   really uncool   to   read   your   dad's   book.   I   mean,   it's   just   so   uncool.   Their   book   is   recommended   in   their   high   school   class   so   they   had   to   read it   in   high   school   which   was   horrible.   They   hated   it.   But   then,   they   did   a   play,   the   first   book   in   Seattle.   They   took   them   all   to   Seattle   to see   the   play   and   they   loved   it.   Now   that   they're   older   and   grow   more   mature,   then   they   all   think   it's   really   cool.   Some   of   my   kids   are   in the   arts   and   so   they   understand   me   now,   whereas   when   they   were   younger   they   didn't   get   it.   Now,   we   totally   relate   and-   The   music keeps getting louder. I hope you can hear me. JBN: Do you research before writing your books? Jamie   Ford:   Yes.   If   I   wrote   contemporary   books,   I   wrote   book   set   2018,   I   could   them   write   much   faster.      But   this   new   book   that   I'm working   on,   it's   set   in   1937,   it's   set   in   1966   and   it's   also   set   in   2042.   It's   a   little   bit   in   the   future   and   so   I'm   having   to   research   all   of those different things. That slows the process down quite a bit. JBN: Is harder to write about past or future? Jamie   Ford:   The   future   is   really   hard   because,   I   mean,   the   past   I   can   research   and   all   and   I   can   rebuild   that   world.   I   can   interview people.   I   can   read   books.   I   can   Google   my   way   to   just   about   anywhere.   But   for   something   set   in   the   future,   I   have   to   make   these assumptions   of   where   we're   going   to   be   at   politically,   where   we're   going   to   be   at   with   technology   and   race   relations.   What   the   families look   like,   drug   policy,   overcrowding   and   things   like   that.   What   our   government   structure,   religious   popularities   might   be.   But   that's kind   of   fun   because   it   ups   the   degree   of   difficulty.   If   I   was   writing   something   300   years   in   the   future   then   I   would   be   like   science fiction.   I   can   make   up   faster   than   light   travel   and   cold   fusion   and   things   like   that.   But   it's   kind   of   like   kids   today.   It's   their   future,   it's   not science   fiction.   It's   just   right   around   the   corner.   I   wanted   to   write   that   part   of   the   book   depending   on   the   statistics   with   the   US   census. Somewhere   around   2042,   minorities,   people   of   color   will   be   equal   to   Caucasian   people   in   the   United   State.   The   country   will   look   a little differently, ethnically and politically and I wanted to write about that timeline. All photos were taken from fb page of Jamie Ford
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  Jamie Ford: “I don't want to recycle the same books over and over again”
Interview
Jamie   Ford   author   of     Love        and        Other Consolation        Prizes and     Hotel     on     the Corner    of    Bitter    and Sweet     talks     to     us about    his    new    book, his   writing   philosophy and    what    2042    will possible look like JBN:   What   was   your e   x   p   e   r   i   e   n   c   e     publishing   your   first   book?      Has   it   changed   your   way   of writing?   Jamie   Ford:   It's   like   a   visit   to   the   therapist   because   they're   very deep   questions.   The   thing   is   when   I   wrote   my   first   book,   I   didn't have   any   expectation.   I   didn't   have   a   built-in   audience.   I   wrote   it really   without   anyone   watching   me   and   that   was   wonderful.   Then, with   my   second   book   because   my   first   book   did   so   well,   I   had   a lot   of   pressure   from   my   publisher,   not   so   much   my   agents.   At   my publisher,   there   was   lots   of   people   that   all   wanted   to   know   what   I was   working   on.   It   made   me   very   self-conscious   as   I'm   writing. Then   with   my   third   book,   it   was   a   similar   situation   where   I   signed a   larger   contract   so   there's   a   financial   expectation,   I   guess,   to succeed.   Beyond   all   of   that,   I   just   put   lots   of   pressure   on   myself and   so   it   definitely   slowed   the   process   down.   I   actually   think   I became   a   better   writer   because   I'm   learning   more   as   I   work   my way   through   the   editing   process.   But   because   I'm   a   better   writer, I'm   a   slower   writer   and   so   that's   been   different.   The   first   book,   I really   just   cranked   it   out   and   the   second   book   has   taken   me   a long   time.   The   new   book   I'm   working   on,   I'm   really   slow   at   the moment.   That's   a   little   weird.   Also,   I   have   a   readership   now,   I have   an   audience   and   I'm   always   torn   between,   "Do   I   just   write whatever   I   want   to   write?"   Which   I   tend   to   do,   or   do   I   factor   in what    people    are    expecting    from    me.    I    battle    that    sometimes because   I   feel   like   people   expect   this   certain   type   of   book   and   if   I do   something   completely   different,   then   they   won't   work.   But   at the   end   of   the   day,   I   have   to   write   for   myself   and   I   have   to   think   of myself   as   artist   and   just   do   what   I   want   to   do   and   hope   my readers   follow   me.   I   don't   want   to   recycle   the   same   books   over and   over   again.   The   new   book   I'm   working   on   is   a   little   different than   what   I   normally   do. Also,   I'm Asian-American   and   I   really   feel I   need   to   tell--There   was   a   moment   where   I   thought   maybe   I'll write   about   something   else   but   there   are   Asian-American   stories that   aren't   being   told.   Unless   someone   else   is   going   to   tell   them,   I feel   a   cultural   obligation   to   tell   them   because   they're   important stories JBN: What do I write about in a new book? Jamie   Ford:   This   new   book   will   deal   a   little   bit   with   a   couple things;   one   is   the   Chinese   Exclusion Act   so   it   was   passed   in   1882 and   it   didn't   but   we   have   been   recruiting   Chinese   workers   for decades   and   then   it   cut   that   off   because   they   were   competing   for jobs   and   then   they   would   what   Chinese   people   become   citizens and   so   it's   a   little   bit   about   that   bit   of   history.   I   like   the   history   that people   don't   think   about   very   much   like   my   parents,   they   couldn't get   married   in   my   mom   home   state   of   Arkansas   because   it   was illegal   in   13   Southern   States.   Inter-racial   marriage   was   illegal   until 1967   and   so   people   forget   that   that's   not   like   a   100   years   ago, that   was   just   not   that   someone's   lifetime   and   so   part   of   it   will   dealt with    a    decision,    it's    called    the    loving    decision    because    the couple's   last   name   was   actually   Loving.   I'm   sorry,   white   man   and a   black   woman   got   married   and   then   they   were   arrested   and   then they   have   to   leave   the   state   otherwise   they   go   to   prison.   It   will deal    a    little    bit    about inter-racial      marriage. Those    are    the    things that   I'm   fascinated   by because     people     just accepted   it   for   so   long but    no    big    deal    like yeah     they     can     get married     just     he     is great     but     you     can't marry     him     or     she's wonderful      but      you can't         marry         her because    she's    black and      or      Jewish      or something     like     that. Because     it     affected my     family     and     my parents   are   gone   so   I tend     to     write     about things    that    happened to   them   and   it   sort   of brings    me    closer    to them      to      appreciate what         they         went through     and     so     I'm working    on    that    story about   those   issues.   I   don't   want   to   write   like   a   political   book   or anything   but   just   a   family   struggle   against   certain   things   that   were the norms of that time. JBN: I am more than sure your audience will love it…   Jamie   Ford:   I   hope   so.   There's   a   lot   of   authors   that   just   crank books   out   to   make   money   and   they   do   great   like   James   Patterson or   some   other,   they   just   crank   out   this   really   terrible   books   but they    make    people    happy.    They're    kind    of    like    McDonald's hamburgers,   they   just   come   and   go.   There's   not   a   lot   to   them. There's   not   a   lot   of   nutritional   value,   there's   not   a   lot   of   taste   or care   but   they're   convenient.   I   tend   to   want   to   write   not   something for   everyone   but   everything   for   someone   and   so   I'm   really   specific in   what   I'm   working   on.   I   don't   mean   that   to   sound   overly   artsy   but that's   the   way   I   look   at   it.   I   just   really,   I   would   rather   form   my partner's   real   book   and   have   a   really   good   story   in   a   well-crafted book   than   just   crank   something   out   so   I   could   break   out   more books.   I   wish   I   could   break   faster,   I   wish   I   could.   Some   authors have a book a year. I just can't quite do that. JBN:   I   was   very   touched   by   the   moment   in   your   first   book, when    the    parents    of    protagonist    forbidden    him    to    speak Chinese   at   home.   So   he   practically   stopped   talking   with   his parents   who   did   not   know   English   or   any   other   language.   Is this a real story? Jamie   Ford:   Actually   my   dad   had   the   opposite   of   that.   My   dad was   100%   Chinese.   He   spoke   Chinese   fluently   but   he   was   not allowed   to   speak   English   at   home.   Even   though   he   was   sent   to public    schools    where    he    was    supposed    to    speak    English    at home.   My   grandma   wanted   him   to   retain   the   Language.   Then, she   sent   him   to   Chinese   school   after   public   school,   to   a   different school,   to   learn   what   we   call   city   Cantonese.   He   had   a   very country   accent   and   my   grandma   was   embarrassed   of   her   accent. She   wanted   you   to   sound   sophisticated   and   not   sound   like   you grow   up   on   a   farm   or   something   like   that   so   he   had   to   relearn Chinese   and   he   hated   it.   I   mean,   later,   he   can   speak   it   fluently   so it's   great.   I   never,   I   took   German,   I   never   took   Chinese.   He   didn't want   me   to   learn   because   he   wanted   me   to   be   as   Americans   for good. JBN: What brought you in Montana? Jaime   Ford:   Before   Montana,   I   was   working   and   living   in   Hawaii. I   write   full   time   now   but   before   that,   I   worked   in   advertising   so   I worked   for   an   ad   agency.   The   ad   agency   I   worked   at   in   Hawaii did   a   lot   of   stuff   for   Hawaii   Tourism,   it's   a   big   industry.   I   was offered   a   job   to   come   here   and   work   on   Montana   Tourism   which is   a   big   part   of   our   industry   and   state.   I   also   wanted   to   be   a   writer. I   really   wanted   to   try   and   put   time   into   it.   I   figured   if   I   could   live   in a   small   town   and   not   have   a   long   commute.   I   have   more   time   to write and try to figure it out and that's really what I do. JBN: Wonderful, and do you like to live here, in Great Falls? Jaime   Ford:   Yes   and   no.   I   love   Montana.   Great   Falls,   I   really   like it   here   because   the   people   are   really   nice,   not   very   pretentious, very    kind    and    helpful.    It's    a    blue-collar    town.    Even    though Bozeman   and   Missoula   are   the   sexier   towns,   there's   more   culture and   so   but   even   with   that,   I   don't   think   I   would   move   to   one   of those   towns.   I   spent   a   lot   of   time   hiking   and   going   up   into   the Rocky   Mountains   and   glacier.   Great   Falls   is   so   close   to   all   of   that. We've   thought   about   moving   on   now   like   maybe   in   the   winter, spending   part   of   our   time   in   Arizona   because   it's   so   beautiful down   there   in   the   winter   time,   it's   just   perfect.   If   we   could   split   our time,   that   will   be   grateful.   We're   thinking   about   that.   Let's   see.   I have   so   many   friends   here.   It's   hard   to   leave   once   you   create   a network   of   people   that   you   spent   time   with.   As   a   writer,   I   travel everywhere   and   so   it's   really   nice   just   to   come   home   and   just   be very   quiet,   very   simple.   I   go   to   big   cities   all   the   time   so   I   don't have   this   desire   to   go   to   Chicago,   Seattle,   Los   Angeles   or   New York because I go anyway. I go all the time. JBN: Do your children read your books? Jaime   Ford:   [laughter]   Yes.   When   they   were   a   little   bit,   when they   were   teenagers,   there   could   just   buy   at   teenagers   and   it's really   uncool   to   read   your   dad's   book.   I   mean,   it's   just   so   uncool. Their   book   is   recommended   in   their   high   school   class   so   they   had to   read   it   in   high   school   which   was   horrible.   They   hated   it.   But then,   they   did   a   play,   the   first   book   in   Seattle.   They   took   them   all to   Seattle   to   see   the   play   and   they   loved   it.   Now   that   they're   older and   grow   more   mature,   then   they   all   think   it's   really   cool.   Some   of my   kids   are   in   the   arts   and   so   they   understand   me   now,   whereas when   they   were   younger   they   didn't   get   it.   Now,   we   totally   relate and- The music keeps getting louder. I hope you can hear me. JBN: Do you research before writing your books? Jamie   Ford:   Yes.   If   I   wrote   contemporary   books,   I   wrote   book   set 2018,   I   could   them   write   much   faster.      But   this   new   book   that   I'm working   on,   it's   set   in   1937,   it's   set   in   1966   and   it's   also   set   in 2042.   It's   a   little   bit   in   the   future   and   so   I'm   having   to   research   all of those different things. That slows the process down quite a bit. JBN: Is harder to write about past or future? Jamie   Ford:   The   future   is   really   hard   because,   I   mean,   the   past   I can   research   and   all   and   I   can   rebuild   that   world.   I   can   interview people.   I   can   read   books.   I   can   Google   my   way   to   just   about anywhere.   But   for   something   set   in   the   future,   I   have   to   make these   assumptions   of   where   we're   going   to   be   at   politically,   where we're   going   to   be   at   with   technology   and   race   relations.   What   the families   look   like,   drug   policy,   overcrowding   and   things   like   that. What   our   government   structure,   religious   popularities   might   be. But   that's   kind   of   fun   because   it   ups   the   degree   of   difficulty.   If   I was   writing   something   300   years   in   the   future   then   I   would   be   like science   fiction.   I   can   make   up   faster   than   light   travel   and   cold fusion   and   things   like   that.   But   it's   kind   of   like   kids   today.   It's   their future,   it's   not   science   fiction.   It's   just   right   around   the   corner.   I wanted   to   write   that   part   of   the   book   depending   on   the   statistics with   the   US   census.   Somewhere   around   2042,   minorities,   people of   color   will   be   equal   to   Caucasian   people   in   the   United   State. The   country   will   look   a   little   differently,   ethnically   and   politically and I wanted to write about that timeline. All photos were taken from fb page of Jamie Ford
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  Jamie Ford: “I don't want to recycle the same books over and over again”