Wendy Lee interview with David Alan Binder

Post date: Feb 16, 2018 12:32:58 AM

Wendy Lee interview with David Alan Binder

Bio: Wendy Lee is the author of the novels The Art of Confidence (Kensington), Across a Green Ocean (Kensington), and Happy Family (Black Cat/Grove Atlantic). Happy Family was named one of the top ten debut novels of 2008 by Booklist and awarded an honorable mention from the Association of Asian American Studies.

A graduate of Stanford University and New York University’s Creative Writing Program, Lee has received fellowships from the MacDowell Colony and the Corporation of Yaddo. She spent more than a decade in the publishing industry as an editor at HarperCollins Publishers and Lantern Books in Brooklyn, where she co-edited the anthology Defiant Daughters: 21 Women on Art,

Activism, Animals, and the Sexual Politics of Meat. She has also worked as an English teacher in China, taught writing at the Asian American Writers’ Workshop, and served as a mentor with Girls Write Now.





1. Where are you currently?

I live in the Astoria neighborhood of Queens, New York.

2. What is the most important thing that you have learned in your writing experience, so far?

That you have to love the writing process or everything about the final outcome will feel false.

3. What would you say is your most interesting writing, publishing, editing or illustrating quirk?

Not sure, if this is a quirk, but because I also work as an editor, I probably know more about the publishing process than is good for me. This includes knowing what scintillating terms like “first pass pages” and “galley proofs” mean.

4. Tell us your insights on self-publish or use a publisher?

I have a traditional publisher.

a. Who is the name of your publisher and in what city are they located?

Kensington Books, New York City

5. Any insights eBooks vs. print books and alternative vs. conventional publishing?

As someone who formerly worked in traditional publishing, and who is now a freelance editor with clients that have self-published, I have to say that the process isn’t that different. A conventional publisher will still rely on the author to provide things such as publicity. For a lot of people, the glamour of being published, no matter how poorly, is better than nothing. But sometimes you have to ask yourself, what can a publisher do for you that you can’t do on your own?

6. Do you have any secret tips for writers on getting a book published?

Make friends with an editor? Seriously, do your research, whether it’s on publishers or agents, what audience is out there for your book, or your competition.

7. How did you or would you suggest acquire an agent? Any tips for new writers on getting one?

I think the key to finding an agent is to cast widely. Be open to young agents who are starting out and may not have an established list, but are eager and hungry to work on your book. Also, don’t be afraid of walking away from an agent who isn’t right for you. I’ve had three different agents over the span of ten years, for various reasons.

8. Do you have any suggestions or helps for new writers (please be specific and informational as possible)?

Don’t think of publishing as a goal; think about reaching readers, or getting what you want to say out into the world. Maybe it isn’t a book, but a blog or another form of expression that would fit your needs better.

9. What was one of the most surprising things you learned with your creative process with your books, editing, publishing or illustrating?

I always thought I knew exactly what I was going to write with each book, but with my second book, I threw out hundreds of pages. The book ended up being completely different and (hopefully) better.

10. How many books have you written?

Three: Happy Family (Grove Atlantic 2008), Across a Green Ocean (Kensington 2015), The Art of Confidence (Kensington 2016)

11. Do you have any tricks or tips to help others become a better writer (please be as specific and information as you possibly can)?

A lot of people will say that you have to write every day, but I think its okay to not write every day, or for many days. Maybe it’s even a good idea to take a break sometimes. Just because you’re not writing doesn’t mean you’re not processing the world through a storyteller’s lens. In any case, it sounds better than saying you have writer’s block!

12. What makes your or any book stand out from the crowd?

I write from my specific situation as the second-generation daughter of immigrants from China—not in the sense that all of my main characters have this identity, but that I write about certain issues or channel feelings that reflect this perspective.