Search This Site
What's New?

Follow me on Twitter @jamieford and on Instagram jamiefordofficial

Tuesday
Aug162016

My life in books

Hello, friends.

I was recently asked to talk about my "life in books," which seemed like a simple assignment, but once you begin to look at influential books in the aggregate, a pattern forms. By this I mean, my list became a bit of a Dr. Phil moment. Curious? Here's My Life in Books, as compiled by the wonderful British book blogger, Anne Cater.

Speaking of books, I just finished edits on the new novel and the manuscript is back in the hands of my illustrious editor. 

I'd say more but I'm too busy dancing around my office.

Tuesday
Jun072016

It's a Bird...It's a Plane...It's a New Book

Actually, it's all kinds of new things.

But, first and foremost, today is the release of Last Night, A Superhero Saved My Life. This collection of tales is the brainchild of Liesa Mignogna and includes essays by Leigh Bardugo, Neil Gaiman, Jodi Picoult, Brad Meltzer, Scott Westerfeld, and little ol' me. (Talking about losing my virginity, TMI?)

I also just had a short story called, The Dive, accepted into Montana Noir, which will be published by Akashic Books next year.

And best of all, I've heard more kvelling than kvetching from my illustrious editor at Random House regarding my new novel, which at the moment is called Prize & Consolations, but will probably be retitled by yours truly at some point in the not-so-distant future. (I'm ridiculously excited about this new book!)

Also, on a weird note, I'm taking a gander at Whispers of a Thunder God, a novel that I walked away from five years ago but is begging for an overhaul, so there's that.

And how have you been?

Monday
Feb292016

Oscars make you uncomfortable? Good

I have a love/hate relationship with Hollywood.

Because when my debut novel landed on the NYT bestseller list and stuck around for two years, I also landed my first film agent. She enjoyed my book. And she told me that she could easily sell the film option. But she also told me that a film would never get made—because my main characters were…Chinese, Japanese, and black.

I’ll pause to let that sink in for a moment.

***

Still with me? 

Okay, so was this agent racist? No, she was kind of awesome, actually. But she had the odious task of telling me, that by Hollywood standards, my baby was ugly.

I didn’t agree. So I signed with another agent. And in my search I found myself bouncing about Hollywood, spending time in very nice offices, with very nice producers, who all kept saying—and this is an exact quote: 

“How do we mitigate the financial risk without a white, male lead?”

Uncomfortable? Need to pause again?

***

I love the famously cantankerous writer, Harlan Ellison, and envisioned him leaping across the table and punching someone in the gullet. I imagined him lighting garbage fires in elevators and burning studios to the ground, then salting the smoldering ruins. I daydreamed as I grit my teeth and kept moving. 

And HOTEL was finally optioned, albeit briefly, to the founding CEO of Village Roadshow, a gentleman who was specializing in Asian markets at the time and who had helped finance Avatar and Marley & Me. I say briefly, because he passed away a year later (RIP Greg Coote).

So yes, there are opportunities in Hollywood. But they are buried in what Chris Rock so aptly described as “Sorority Racism.” And passive racism is still racism. Sins of omission, while not sins of commission, are still sins.

And to deny the racist, exclusionary, whitewashing reality of Hollywood is not just uninformed nonsense—it’s actually enabling this institutionalized behavior.

I guess what I’m saying is—if last night’s Oscars made you feel a tad uncomfortable—great! That means your empathy muscles are asking for a workout. 

You can do the easy thing and shut down those feelings, deny what they’re telling you, or you can put yourself in the shoes of Hattie McDaniel who was the first black woman to win an Oscar, but had to play a maid 74 times, or in the shoes of Dean Tanaka and Chloe Wang who had to change their names to Dean Cain and Chloe Bennett to find success—entirely up to you. 

I’ll pause again to let you think about it.

Saturday
Dec122015

The Mystery Girl. Thoughts on race, fear, and religious freedom

The photo is by the great Dorothea Lange. Her Internment images were impounded by the US government. Most of these images ended up in the US archives, but weren't published until 2006. Lange died in 1965.In the front of Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet there's a photo of a Japanese American girl. She was born in the US, but sent to an internment camp along with her family because they looked like the enemy. 

Now certain politicians are dismissing this injustice. They're vague-tweeting the idea that for the safety of all, perhaps we should be comfortable trampling on the rights of a few.

Do they REALLY believe this? I doubt it. It's political shorthand. It's reductive reasoning, designed to turn complex racial and sociological algebra into 1+1 = vote for me. 

And while I'd like to think we're all smarter than that, we're also stuck with a 24-hour news Kraken that feeds on fear. That hectoring makes us wary of Muslim Americans. Or Sikhs. Or merely brown people with beards. And makes the idea of registering people because of their religious affiliation seem "reasonable" and "prudent."

That's disheartening, because not only do I have Muslim friends, but also my books have been translated into Arabic. 

It's confounding too, because if I were invited to Saudi Arabia for book events, I'd hesitate. Not out of fear, but because I wouldn't be able to keep my big mouth shut with regards to Wahhabism and women's rights. (I have four daughters and when they graduated from high school I suggested Pomp & Circumstance be ditched in favor of Ride of the Valkyries, so yeah, I'm biased too).

But...back to the Mystery Girl.

She's not a mystery to me, because I've had the pleasure of meeting her. I've enjoyed dinner with her family. Her name is Mae Yanagi and she's as American as can be. 

Like my ancestors and yours, her family came to the US to become part of something better. Not to infiltrate.

Think of this little girl the next time a politician suggests we begin registering people -- because freedom shouldn't be a mystery.