Jennifer J. Chow Talks About Her Debut Novel The 228 Legacy and Her Writing Experience
Jennifer J. Chow is a Chinese-American married into the Taiwanese culture. Her fiction has appeared in several literary magazines. Her Taiwanese-American novel, The 228 Legacy, made it to the second round of the 2013 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest and was published by Martin Sisters Publishing in July 2013.
The 228 Legacy was inspired by the family stories she heard after viewing photos of a two-million-person human chain commemorating 228. She has traveled multiple times to Taiwan and visited places dedicated to the incident. Her experience with the elderly comes from a gerontology specialization at Cornell University and her geriatric social work experience. Visit Jennifer online at her site jenniferjchow.com to learn more about her work.
What is your genre?
My tagline is “Asian American fiction with a geriatric twist.” My recently released novel, The 228 Legacy, is categorized as multicultural women’s fiction.
Would you consider The 228 Legacy to be historical fiction?
You could reference my book as historical fiction since it explores the effects of a historical event which occurred in 1947. However, it is officially categorized under “multicultural” and “women’s fiction.” I think this is because the novel is set in the 1980’s which is sometimes too close to be considered historical.
How did you get started writing?
I started out as a young kid scribbling on scraps of paper and stealing my dad’s typewriter to bang away on its keys. As I got older, I joined school clubs like yearbook, newspaper, and the literary magazine. I also wrote poetry on the side. When I graduated from college, I focused on fiction. I have short stories published in several literary magazines. I also wrote and shelved three manuscripts before landing a contract for my debut novel.
What is the publishing process like?
Nowadays, the publishing process is more fluid. It used to be harder: You needed to secure a literary agent to get the attention of an acquisitions editor to present the manuscript to the publisher’s committee meeting for a vote. Writers today have more avenues to see their name in print, whether it’s through a big publishing company, a small independent press, or by self-publishing.
What’s your typical writing session and environment like?
I tend to write in solid chunks of time. Since I have two young children, I used to write exclusively when they went down for bed. I still like the nighttime to write. It works well for me because I require absolute quiet to craft my sentences.
What are your favorite writing tools?
For my first few manuscripts, I used official Moleskine notebooks to compile my ideas and jot down outlines. I still like having bound journals to keep all the pages together. They’re filled with book ideas, research details, family trees, and chapter outlines. I also enjoy writing with a ballpoint pen-I like the permanency of black ink versus pencil, and I hate the smudges that can come with roller pens.
What exposure have you had?
I received finalist standing in Writer Advice’s 7th Annual Flash Prose Contest and an honorable mention in the 2012 Whispering Prairie Press Writers Contest. The 228 Legacy first went through the 2013 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award, making it to the second round. Later on, it was picked up and published by Martin Sisters Publishing.
What is the most annoying remark made to you about your writing?
Most people have been really supportive of my writing. A lot of folks say, “I’ve always dreamed about writing a book,” and I encourage them to do so. I think it’s hard for people to know when I’m actually writing, though. Sometimes, even if I’m staring into space, I’m thinking about my stories. It gets frustrating when people interrupt me as I’m brainstorming because it looks like I’m “doing nothing.”
What advice would you give to aspiring authors?
I would tell others to continue writing and telling their unique story. They should write what they want to, based on their own desires, and not what other people are saying or what’s already on the bookshelves.
I would also warn them that it’s a bumpy journey, filled with rejection. In the end, though, writing is an art form. Some people are going to appreciate the art, and others -not so much. They should persevere and trust that there are readers out there waiting for their work.