Q&A with Chemistry Author Weike Wang

29 Aug

If you’ve been following, you’ve read about my great amazement to find a friend from high school swimming had written a book. Weike Wang’s first novel, Chemistry, is garnering more and more press since its release in May. I came across it while exploring Elliott Bay Book Company in Seattle and I’m so glad I did. After reconnecting with Weike, she agreed to do a Q&A with me here on the blog. Thank you again to Weike for her time!

Questions I Wrote Before Reading

SAM: Can you tell me about the process of getting this book to a publisher? How long did it take and how much rejection did you have to face?
WEIKE: It was an idealistic situation.  I faced no rejection because this novel was my MFA thesis and my advisor did me a great deed by introducing me to his editor.  Then the fairy tale unfolded from there.  I am quite aware that this is not the normal pace of things.  But my advice to young writers is to always, always respect your teachers and listen to what they have to say.

SAM: What attracted you to the novel format?
WEIKE: It’s a commitment.  But you also have to be restrained.  A novel is not just a place to expand in every direction.  Also, practically, novels sell and short stories do not.

SAM: How much of this book is autobiographical?
WEIKE: I would say a bit but not much.  With the first novel, you are writing about all the experiences you have ever heard of.  Sometimes they are your own experiences, sometimes not.

SAM: Do you see another novel in your future?
WEIKE: Of course! I love the form.  Especially the form of a short novel. Currently something is in the works.  Fingers crossed!

SAM: Reading your author bio, you seem to have changed career paths. What prompted you to do that?
WEIKE: Mostly I was trying to figure out what I want to do.  I don’t mean to sound like a jerk here, but I was competent at a lot of things.  Some of those things were stable careers and careers that I think anyone could have been happy with.  Medicine.  Research. Etc.  I really wanted to DO something that would forward a field.  That required looking at different avenues of my own interests.

SAM: Can you comment on appearances, interviews, etc. you’ve done since this book was released?
WEIKE: They were all fun.  I have enjoyed getting to meet readers and rekindling with old friends (like you!).

Questions I Wrote After Reading

SAM: You end with a very hopeful tone. Should we be hopeful for the narrator?
WEIKE: Sure, I think that’s fair.  A good ending, I have always believed, is an ending where the story continues in the reader’s mind.  There is a little bit of hope but also some qualification of that hope.  It’s life, no?

SAM: You leave all characters in the book unnamed except Eric. Is he focal to the narrator’s transformation?
WEIKE: I named Eric because I think his relationship to her is the most ambiguous.  He is her boyfriend sure, but they’re also in the middle of a long break up. Everyone else in the novel has an explicit relationship to her that doesn’t change.

SAM: Your format jumps from the plot to memories and back again. Why did you choose to write this way? Do you see yourself writing future novels in this format? (Assuming there will be some, of course!)
WEIKE: When I read novels, I find that I skim over a lot of the ‘fat’.  Descriptions, dialogues, scenes that drag.  I was trained in the short story field and I have always felt that a novelist could benefit from being lean.  That is giving the reader just enough but not SO much that the reader doesn’t have to work for it, doesn’t have to think.  The jumping back and forth is just a style I like.  It’s called collage.  It’s one of the most forgiving styles of writing for a writer.

Thanks yet again to Weike for responding to a Facebook message from an old swimming friend. I’m hoping for more books of hers in the future.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

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2 Responses to “Q&A with Chemistry Author Weike Wang”

  1. Hunida August 30, 2017 at 6:03 PM #

    How awesome that you guys knew each other and that she was able to answer your questions!

    Like

    • Sam August 30, 2017 at 7:17 PM #

      I know! Finding her book in a store and reconnection had been great. Happy reading!

      Liked by 1 person

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