Author Interview: Layne Wong
We are excited to welcome author, Layne Wong, to the nest today. She's here to discuss her novel, Shanghai Love.
Andrea @ Reading Lark: What inspired you to write this novel?
Layne: I’m fascinated by the influence of diverse cultures coming together. Shanghai Love integrates my Asian heritage and Jewish conversion. China’s openness to accept Jewish refugees fleeing Hitler was an unusual moment in time; I was immediately drawn into its world.
Andrea @ Reading Lark: WWII is a time period that fascinates many. Have you always been interested in this time period?
Layne: Yes. It was a generation of real heroes and heroines. The impact of what these everyday individuals sacrificed and endured so that we can live the life that we do today was enormous.
Andrea @ Reading Lark: What should readers know about your main characters before beginning this novel?
Layne: I would like readers to be aware of how the choices we make resonate through generations. For Peilin, her aunt was sold as a young girl. The guilt Peilin’s grandfather suffered from his actions prompted him to mentor Peilin in herbal medicine so that she would have a chance at a better life. Henri’s loss of his mother at a young age steered him towards his Uncle Viktor. If it had not been for Uncle Viktor, Henri would have died in the Holocaust.
Andrea @ Reading Lark: What are you reading?
Layne: I’m currently reading Khaled Hosseini’s “And the Mountains Echoed” and Amy Tan’s “Rules for Virgins.”
Andrea @ Reading Lark: What is your favorite bird?
Layne: My favorite bird is the hummingbird. I admire its ability to float free of time and to remind us that we are all connected.
About the Author
Layne is a novelist and advocate for stories that infuse personal heritage into the narrative tapestry. Weaving her Chinese heritage with that of her Jewish conversion, her debut novel explores a little known historical connection when these cultures collided as a result of Hitler’s rampage and World War II.
Her immigrant grandfather operated an herbal store in San Francisco. Years later Layne worked as a Chinese medicine technician producing traditional herbal formulas much like her ancestors.
Layne’s a native Californian. She graduated from UCLA with a degree in English Literature. She’s written for television and worked as a development associate in the entertainment industry.
She’s been involved in both publishing and entertainment. As a writing coach, Layne focuses on writing with an eye towards the cultural lens. She’s member of the Writers Guild of America (WGA), The Authors Guild, Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (ATAS), the Coalition of Asian Pacifics in Entertainment (CAPE), Independent Writers of Southern California (IWOSC), and volunteers with Asia Society. She was selected for the prestigious AFI TV writer’s program and honed her craft in David Henry Hwang writing workshop at East-West Players in Los Angeles. She’s also a participant in the Asian American Journalists Association’s (AAJA) annual Trivia Bowl.
Layne lives in southern California with her husband. She’s currently at work on her second novel.
About the Novel
Shanghai Love is a gripping novel about the unlikely love story that develops between a Chinese herbalist and a Jewish refugee in Shanghai during World War II. Peilin is betrothed to Kwan Yao, the only son of a wealthy pearl farmer. However, months before their wedding, Yao is killed by the Japanese in the Nanjing Massacre. The Kwans insist on proceeding with the wedding and beautiful Peilin is married to a ghost husband. When an uncle passes away, Peilin is sent to Shanghai to manage the Kwan family herbal shop. Meanwhile, in Berlin, Henri graduates from medical school just as Hitler rises to power and unleashes prejudice and violence against the Jewish population. He flees to Shanghai where he's befriended by Ping, a young disfigured rickshaw driver. Ping introduces Henri to his sister Peilin. Through her kindness, Henri becomes fascinated with Chinese herbs as well as the exotic culture surrounding him. Shanghai Love is a classic story of love's triumph over adversity.