Editor’s Note: This exchange is part of a series of brief interviews with emerging writers of recent or forthcoming books. If you enjoyed it, please visit other interviews in the I’ve Got Questions feature.
- What’s the title of your book? Fiction? Nonfiction? Poetry? Who is the publisher and what’s the publication date?
Publisher: 2040Books, imprint of Santa Fe Writers Project
- In a couple of sentences, what’s the book about?
Amy Wong is an up-and-coming designer in the New York fashion industry — she is young, beautiful, and has it all. But she finds herself at odds with rival designers in a world rife with chauvinism and prejudice. In her personal life, she struggles with marriage and motherhood, finding that her choices fall short of her traditional family’s expectations. Derailed again and again, Amy must confront her own limitations to succeed as the designer and person she wants to be.
- What’s the book’s genre (for fiction and nonfiction) or primary style (for poetry)?
- What’s the nicest thing anyone has said about the book so far?
Remember when we talked about getting authors to write blurbs for us? Well my publisher kept pushing me for more. As a result, a lot of these have not seen the light of day, which has been hugely embarrassing. So I’ll share one of those:
“Chiu offers a series of brilliantly curated moments, vivid examinations of the turning points in an extraordinary woman’s life. Chiu fearlessly illuminates how love, integrity, and creativity can shape a world and bring wisdom.”
— Lan Samantha Chang, author of Hunger and Inheritance
However, the best blurb I got was probably this one:
“Christina Chiu’s Beauty is beautiful in the way of a scalpel blade. It’s that sharp and precise, that lacerating, that true.”
— Michael Cunningham, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Hours
- What book or books is yours comparable to or a cross between? [Is your book like Moby Dick or maybe it’s more like Frankenstein meets Peter Pan?]
Work that has influenced my writing: Drown by Junot Diaz, House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros, Typical American by Gish Jen, The Hours by Michael Cunningham, “Wants” (Enormous Changes at the Last Minute) by Grace Paley
- Why this book? Why now?
This book speaks to the intersections of race and gender. It shows how stereotypes distort people’s perceptions of the “other,” and more importantly, how those who get stereotyped live with—and resist—living within those boundaries.
- Other than writing this book, what’s the best job you’ve ever had?
It’s a tie: I design and make boots, which is a really rewarding endeavor because it involves both form and function. For me, it’s a form of visual art, and when the design successfully reflects the wearer, I feel like I’ve drawn out the beauty in that person. I also teach for Prison Writes, an organization that brings creative writing to those who are incarcerated or formerly incarcerated so that they can voice their own stories. One of my students found writing so fulfilling that he went back to finish college!
- What do you want readers to take away from the book?
Trust in your beauty. Never give up. On the way to realizing your dream, you may find that you are in it!
- What food and/or music do you associate with the book?
There is a playlist for Beauty here!: http://www.largeheartedboy.com/blog/archive/2020/06/christina_chius.html
- What book(s) are you reading currently?
Another Country by James Baldwin, On Beauty and Being Just by Elaine Scarry, Face by Aimee Liu, and Ted Talks by Chris Anderson.
Learn more about Christina on her website.