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Posts tagged with: Soul Affinity

Meet 2017 Golden Heart Finalist A.Y. Chao!

Today we’re welcoming another Rebelle, A.Y.Chao, who’s a 2017 Golden Heart Finalist for Best Paranormal Romance with her manuscript SOUL AFFINITY.

A.Y. Chao is a recovering lawyer and expat Canadian. After a somewhat nomadic path from Calgary to Paris, Stockholm, Beijing, London, and Hong Kong, she’s settled (for now) in London, England with her husband, chatterbox daughter, sweet Hong Kong rescue hound, and snuffling piggy pug. She writes urban fantasy and drinks far too much coffee.

You can follow her shenanigans on Twitter@ay_chao and on FB www.facebook.com/aychao.author.

Here’s a blurb for SOUL AFFINITY, which is not only nominated for a Golden Heart, but won the 2016 Indiana Golden Opportunity Contest for best Paranormal romance!

Aziza Lee believes making partner at her law firm will finally free her from the shame of a threadbare past. When all that stands between her and partnership is a week archiving documents called “Tor” in the firm’s mysterious Repository, not even Marcus Vandenberg, the arrogant stranger assigned to supervise her, can unnerve her.

Until she touches a Tor, and all hell reveals itself: The Tor embody souls waiting to cross the Veil. And Marcus is no ordinary pain-in-the-arse, but a netherworld guardian. Complete with attitude and wings. 

When Aziza uncovers a pattern of Tor disappearing prematurely, she agrees to help Marcus find the missing souls. Neither of them bank on Aziza accidentally binding their souls together, nor discovering Aziza’s half-human half-guardian bloodline, a bloodline prohibited by the guardians on pain of death. With the killer targeting half-breeds, Aziza & Marcus’s grudging attraction complicates further the lies they must tell to stay alive.

Wow! What a great story concept! And I love the hint of irreverent humor—this must be a fun read! I hope we’ll see it out soon!

A.Y. Chao is here with us today to tell us a little more about herself. I think maybe we don’t want to make ourselves too comfy in the Repository just at the moment (eep!!), but since it’s still Fourth of July week (apologies to those in Britain!! J), maybe we can lounge around on some lawn chairs on the beach and eat popsicles while we chat.

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Welcome, A.Y.! It’s delightful to have you with us. Tell us a little more about your Golden Heart book and the process of writing it. Have you been writing a long time?

This is my first manuscript! I’m a total newb!!

But this was an idea I had almost twenty years ago. It percolated at the back of my mind until I got pregnant with my daughter. Something clicked, and I started to really tease out the story, writing it with the help (aka regular kicks in the butt) of my mentor Jill Dawson from Gold Dust, a fabulous mentoring program in the UK.

That program must be fabulous if it’s helped you get this far this fast! What about literary inspirations? Favorite authors?

I love J.K. Rowling, truly. Love her way with words, and her sensibilities. And Phillip Pullman’s His Dark Materials. So excited about the new one coming out. 

Oh, yes!! They’re two of my favorites as well!! I’m very excited for the Pullman graphic novel—His Dark Materials pulled me in to its universe so deeply, I’m eager to see what he does with this new world. He’s a great role model (as, of course, is Rowling)! So, writing is a new(ish) path for you. What were you doing before this story clicked?

My first real job was as a pusher of forged iron and steel rolls. Then I was a lawyer. Then I became a yarn pusher (imported artisan handpainted yarn), then a handknit sock pattern designer and knitting conference organizer, and now writer. 

Wow! Okay, I think you may win the prize for most interesting and varied pre-writing career path. And it sounds like the rest of your geographic path has been amazing as well. That’s quite the “places I’ve lived” resume—so many of the world’s great cities, and such different ones. How has moving so widely affected your viewpoint on the world?

I’m Canadian, my ethnic background is Chinese via Taiwan, and I have for more than half my life been an expat—some kind of outsider but still able to find my own community. It’s given me an interesting perspective on diversity, belonging, marginalisation, being the minority, and being the majority and the subtle ways people are always able to find ways to include others, and of course, to exclude others. 

Those experiences must add incredible richness to your characters and stories. I’m guessing Aziza Lee’s status as someone with a “half-human half-guardian bloodline, a bloodline prohibited by the guardians” must on some level be a reflection, at least emotionally, of some of your experiences, or insights you’ve gained moving across cultural boundaries? And the fact that she finds herself abruptly plunged into such a strange new world?

Absolutely! I find the disconnect between how we see ourselves and how others see us fascinating. For example, on the outside, I’m always considered to be Chinese first and foremost. Because those are the most obvious visual cues. Eyes, hair, skin tone. Yet, when I lived in China, I was definitely an outsider there. Locals only needed to see me and they knew I wasn’t from there. I walked differently, laughed differently, dressed differently. But more importantly, my social mores weren’t the same. Hardware was the same, but totally different operating system. It only enforced what I’ve always known—that for me, identity is who I am inside– a mishmash of this and that–Canadian sensibilities, Chinese sensitivities, a fair sprinkling of American pop culture—and not so much what I look like outside. 

Aziza’s story is very much about learning to embrace who she is on the inside, to accept and to be proud of her differences, and learning to find her community. 

The same way that I’ve found connection never just boils down to external qualities, Aziza has to not only get comfortable with who she is inside but also be brave enough to share that inner self externally. Being plunged into a strange new world is definitely a form of culture shock. She feels she doesn’t truly belong to either the human world or the guardian’s world, yet she has to find a way to straddle both and come to terms with her identity if she wants to have any chance of finding her place in the world.

“Hardware was the same, but totally different operating system.” Fabulous metaphor! And fabulous story material! You’ve clearly got great life resources for depth in your stories. But what about the challenges you face as a writer? What makes it hard to get the work done?

Mom guilt is a tough one. I often feel guilty about devoting time to writing when the family to do list is sitting on my shoulders like a backpack stuffed with a year’s worth of trekking gear.

Oy! Yes! I think many of our readers are nodding their heads vigorously right now. Probably worse in summertime when the school-age munchkins are out of school. But you’ve clearly got momentum going. What’s your dream for where you’ll be in five years?

Oh boy, it would be awesome to be finished my trilogy (SOUL AFFINITY is the first in the planned trilogy). And I’d love to have some work in an anthology. Oh and yes, so long as I’m wishing on a star, would love to have a publisher for the trilogy and at least the first two out!

Good luck! You can do it! Hmmm…I’ve got lots more questions I’d like to ask, but everybody’s popsicles are melting quickly. So it’s time for a lightning round!! You’re in London. Tell us two things about your life there right now.

We just moved to a new (well, quite old —late Victorian) house. Currently unpacking boxes, painting walls, and slowly pulling a home together. 

One of my favourite places in the world is Borough Market in London—a fabulous food market. I love to eat good food.

Oh, MAN!! A late Victorian house AND fab food!!! Jealous meter off the charts here. (Dang, I should have had everybody gather at Borough Market today instead of the beach. *popsicle drips sadly*) Next question: are you going to Nationals this year?

This is my first ever time to a writing conference and first ever Nationals! SOOOO excited!

Newbie, right. Don’t worry—you’re going to love it! Okay, what’s one crazy fact about you that most people who meet you probably wouldn’t guess was true?

I didn’t learn to speak English until I was 5 when I went to kindergarten. I used to play with my next door neighbour Cale and never understood why I often had to mime things. It wasn’t until my mom told me that I only spoke Chinese back then, that my interactions with Cale made more sense! 

Biggest celebrity crush?

Totally love Jason Bateman in Arrested Development and This is Where I Leave You. I think it’s the puppy dog eyes. 

He’s totally underrated as an actor. Love him, too! (Though I confess Adam Driver kept dominating my attention in that movie.) Thanks so much for being with us today! Now, what question would you like to ask our readers to get the conversation going today?

Given all the different directions we are often pulled, day job, family, personal health, etc, what’s your single best strategy for maximizing writing efficiency?

 

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