Frequently Asked Questions
Why did you set the Dove Chronicles on the Moon?
Because getting food, water, and air up there seemed like a cool nerdy challenge!
Also, since I'm Chinese, I grew up celebrating holidays based on the lunar calendar and hearing stories about the Moon. I wondered what it would be like to actually live there.
Phaet? Umbriel? How do you come up with these otherworldly character names?
Everyone in the Dove Chronicles has an astronomical name, since Lunar society is so fixated on space exploration and other scientific fields. (A couple of people are named after famous researchers.) My favorite character name, Yinha, is derived from the Chinese words for “Milky Way.” Literally translated, “yin he” (银河) means “silver river.” Isn’t that pretty?
What's the coolest thing you learned while doing research for Dove Arising?
You can use a super-strong electromagnet to levitate a frog. (Look!!) Secret: the magnet repels the water in the frog's body. This video inspired the Lunar Bases' ceiling magnets, which create the illusion of greater gravity on the Moon.
When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
When I finished the first draft of Dove Arising. I'd always loved to read and write, but this book was bigger and better and more alive than anything I'd written before.
How did your studies influence Dove Arising?
High school physics, which I took while writing Dove Arising, helped me write fight scenes and spaceship chases! Chemistry 101 in college led me to write a lot of corny puns. But it wasn’t only science that inspired me; political science courses helped me construct the future Earth’s power regime, with its two powerful alliances, in a way that felt believable.
What's a typical working day like for you?
During the school year, I write between study sessions or right before bed. When I’m on summer or winter break, I like to write early in the morning, when there are fewer things to distract me. I take lots and lots of breaks – tea breaks, workout breaks, socializing breaks – and that keeps things fresh.
What are you working on now?
Besides the remaining two Dove Chronicles books? My undergraduate thesis, which is about shellfishing in a Fijian village. (Read more about my awesome lab here!)
I'm also concocting a fantasy series in my head. Here's a short story that I wrote as a "prequel" to the real deal -- enjoy!
Do you have any writing advice?
Read and write a lot -- but don't forget to go outside! Your own experiences could provide your next inspiration.
I wrote a story and want to get published. Would you read my manuscript/critique my work/refer me to an agent?
Aw, I wish I could help every writer who asked me for advice. It means so much that you'd trust me. But unfortunately I have so much to do and so little time -- I couldn't possibly help everyone to the best of my ability, and that wouldn't be fair. But here are some great resources that I used when I was trying to get published: Nathan Bransford's publishing blog (for advice on the publishing process), Steph Sinkhorn's writing blog (she's hilarious, and amazing!), and Christopher Paolini's website (scifi and fantasy GOLD). Hope this helps, and best of luck with the writing!
I'm an educator. Will you visit our school?
I'd love to! Interacting with students is my favorite thing to do as an author. Just shoot an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to set up a visit. All other information you may need is here.