Eddy Boudel TanModeratorSeptember 24, 2020 at 10:57 pmPost count: 16
Ask Me Anything
with Eddy Boudel Tan
For the first in our AMA series, Asian Canadian writer Eddy Boudel Tan joins us from his home in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada!
Eddy Boudel Tan is the author of two novels, After Elias (Fall 2020) and The Rebellious Tide (Summer 2021). His work depicts a world much like our own—the heroes are flawed, truth is distorted, and there is as much hope as there is heartbreak.
As a queer Asian Canadian, Eddy celebrates diverse voices and provocative perspectives. When he isn’t writing or planning his next adventure abroad, he serves home-cooked meals to those living on the streets as the cofounder of the Sidewalk Supper Project.
He lives with his husband in Vancouver.
Eddy Boudel TanModeratorSeptember 26, 2020 at 12:00 amPost count: 16
Hello friends! I’ll be here for the next hour, just sitting by the window, enjoying a glass of BC wine, watching the birds in the sky, and answering any questions you might have. As the title of the series suggests, ask me anything! And I’ll try to answer honestly 😉
- This reply was modified 4 weeks, 1 day ago by Eddy Boudel Tan.
Barry SalomonParticipantSeptember 26, 2020 at 12:06 amPost count: 1
If you had to come up with one sentence to make me/other people want to read your book, After Elias, what would it be?
Faith BuchananParticipantSeptember 26, 2020 at 12:07 amPost count: 11
Hi Eddy, thanks for being here! What was your inspiration for this first novel?
Eddy Boudel TanModeratorSeptember 26, 2020 at 12:16 amPost count: 16
It’s such a pleasure to be here, Faith! I love nothing more than connecting with readers and talking about books.
The inspiration for my first novel was the fear of losing everything. I wanted to take someone who appears to have everything, and then take it all away from him. Not out of pure cruelty, but to reveal what happens when we lose everything. What do we learn about ourselves, about our lives, about the world, when all that decoration is stripped away?
Coen, the protagonist, truly loses everything in the most spectacular fashion. He’s on a perfect island in Mexico, one week before marrying the love of his life. Then in an instant, as a plane crashes into the sea, he loses it all. But it isn’t about the tragedy of the crash. The real story begins as Coen faces the aftermath.
sean wesleyParticipantSeptember 26, 2020 at 12:14 amPost count: 1
Hi Eddy, if you could describe the feeling of getting published in the form of an ice cream flavor, what flavor would that be ?
Marie T.ParticipantSeptember 26, 2020 at 12:17 amPost count: 17
Hi Eddy, thanks for doing this! What is your schedule like when you are writing? Are you a morning/afternoon/evening writer?
Eddy Boudel TanModeratorSeptember 26, 2020 at 12:25 amPost count: 16
I’m happy to be here! Thanks for taking the time to hang out with me this evening, Marie.
When I’m in the throes of writing a novel (or anything, for that matter), I get a little obsessed with it and will fit the time in whenever I can. And when I’m not writing, I’m thinking about writing. I don’t get much sleep when I’m in the thick of things, and my friends and family don’t see me much during these weeks! But my favourite time to write is in the mornings, especially on weekends, with a coffee by my side and the whole day spread outward in front of me. 🙂
David LightfootParticipantSeptember 26, 2020 at 12:22 amPost count: 5
Hi Eddy. Your novel seems to be very interesting. Speaking as an advocate for educational literature, I must admit I’ve been hesitant to write about queer and LGBTQ themes simply because I worry about the backlash from conservative parents and family members of English literature students.
1) Given the change in the atmosphere and certain attitudes, would you support fiction with LGBTQ themes being taught in high schools in their English classes?
2) What tips, if any, can you offer for writers who want to write a novel with LGBTQ themes, promote this to the proper curriculum upon publication, and succeed without facing conservative backlash?
Eddy Boudel TanModeratorSeptember 26, 2020 at 12:41 amPost count: 16
Hi David – This is a great question. A thorny yet important one.
I’m a queer author, and it’s important to me to help strengthen LGBTQ+ voices. I’d be doing a disservice to myself and my community otherwise. The potential backlash, whether it be overt or implicit, is a risk that I accept. I don’t write for homophobic people. It’s not my job to change their views or convince them that my identity and work are valid. I write for readers who accept and celebrate LGBTQ+ individuals as humans, regardless of their sexual and gender identity. I also write for people like the boy I used to be, struggling to understand his identity and where he fits, longing to see a reflection of himself in the world.
To answer your questions more directly:
1) 100% YES. That boy I mention above is sitting in those classrooms today. Positive change begins with education, and our education system needs to be a pioneer for progress. It cannot make critical decisions based on fear. Like me, as an artist, educators must be willing to fight and accept the risk of a backlash.
2) My advice is to simply start. Start small, if you must. Partner with allies and focus on the groups and communities that would be most accepting. Every ripple can become a wave.
This sounds like a cause that’s important to you. I’m more than happy to support in any way that I can. Feel free to reach me at http://www.eddyboudeltan.com. This is important.
Bernice FraserParticipantSeptember 26, 2020 at 12:28 amPost count: 21
Hi Eddy! Thanks for being here, it’s neat to be able to interact with the writers! Did you find the experience writing your second book much different than the experience of writing the first? Is there the pressure to produce?
Eddy Boudel TanModeratorSeptember 26, 2020 at 12:49 amPost count: 16
Hi Bernice! One of my favourite things to do is to connect with readers, so this is a lot of fun for me.
Yes, I did find the second book to be a very different experience. I wrote AFTER ELIAS not really knowing how to write a book, to be honest. I’d been writing for years (decades, even), and I’ve always been a voracious reader, but I didn’t yet understand the importance of things like word count, genre, structure, etc. All these things that writers learn in an MFA program, which I never did. I wrote that book purely by heart and instinct, and I think that’s what makes it so special. It poured out of me while being ignorant to the “rules.”
I wrote my second book when my agent was pitching AFTER ELIAS to publishers. At that point, I had a much deeper understanding of the publishing industry, so I was more conscious of that while writing. There is still tons of heart in my second book, but the experience of writing it was different. Also, I like to joke that I “stress-wrote” my second book… I was so anxious about whether AFTER ELIAS would see the light of day, my agent’s very wise advice was to focus my energy on what I could control: my writing. And so I heeded that advice, and the outcome was THE REBELLIOUS TIDE, my second novel that’s slated for publication next summer.
Joy RenwickParticipantSeptember 26, 2020 at 12:32 amPost count: 16
Hi Eddy. Is there kind of a magic thing about writing a story where your character loses everything he loves most? Do you feel like it’s almost a protective act?
Eddy Boudel TanModeratorSeptember 26, 2020 at 12:55 amPost count: 16
Hi Joy! Great question. I do think there’s something magic about it. Losing everything is certainly a fear that I’ve wrestled with, and I suspect I’m far from alone. In many ways, I think that the fear can be more damaging than the outcome itself.
It can be a protective act, but it can also be liberating. Humans tend to hold onto things so tightly. I often remind myself of the Buddhist teaching of impermanence. Everything is temporary, fluid, evolving. I became a much happier person when I embraced this truth and learned how to let go of the past and find fulfillment in what is to come.
Jamie ChapmanParticipantSeptember 26, 2020 at 12:39 amPost count: 1
Eddy! What is the perfect meal and wine pairing to enjoy while reading After Elias?
Eddy Boudel TanModeratorSeptember 26, 2020 at 12:59 amPost count: 16
Jamie! I love both good food and wine, so this question is right up my alley.
I would say:
Starter: gazpacho (served ice cold)
Main: charred octopus marinated in lime (blackened and acidic)
Dessert: tres leches cake (pure and uncomplicated, as one character muses in AFTER ELIAS)
Cocktail: might I suggest a Tears of Men? One part mescal, two parts dry vermouth, lemon juice, orange bitters, orange rind (smoky and dangerous)
Andrea WesleyParticipantSeptember 26, 2020 at 12:43 amPost count: 1
Hey Eddy! I love to listen to music while I read. Can you recommend an album or soundtrack that would suit the vibe of After Elias?
Eddy Boudel TanModeratorSeptember 26, 2020 at 1:05 amPost count: 16
Hi Andrea! I think music and literature go together like wine and cheese, so I’m right there with you!
Funny enough, I had a playlist that basically ran on repeat while I was writing AFTER ELIAS. I’ve been meaning to create this on Spotify, but you know, priorities!
Here you go:
– Battle Born by The Killers
– Free by Broods
– Holy Ghost by BORNS
– Flesh and Bone by The Killers
– Le Lac by Julien Dore
– We Had Everything by BORNS
– Hey Brother by Andy Lange & Josh Golden (a wonderful acoustic cover of the Avicii song)
– Remember Me by Miguel (love COCO!)
– Avalanche by Walk The Moon
– Everlasting Light by The Black Keys
– Five Past Ten by Blair
– Deadlines and Commitments by The Killers
Sue BlayneParticipantSeptember 26, 2020 at 12:47 amPost count: 2
Hi Eddy! I’ve just started reading your book and I’m really enjoying it so far. I love your depiction of the Mexican island where the characters are. I’m an avid traveller and since we can’t travel this year, it’s nice to read something that takes place in such a beautiful setting. On that note, I have a few questions for you:
1. What is your favourite place you’ve been to in Mexico? And where in Mexico would you like to go next (that you haven’t visited yet)?
2. What is your favourite Mexican dish/food?
- This reply was modified 2 weeks, 6 days ago by Janelle Desrosiers.
Eddy Boudel TanModeratorSeptember 26, 2020 at 1:15 amPost count: 16
Hi Sue! I’m so glad you’re enjoying it. I’ve travelled extensively in Mexico, and it holds a very special place in my heart. I try to visit at least once every two years. There’s a magical quality I find there that I haven’t quite found anywhere else.
To answer your questions:
1) I would have to say the capital, Mexico City. In fact, it’s one of my favourite cities on earth. It’s brimming with such exciting history, art, and culture, but what I love most is the energy I find there. It’s down to earth and modest, while also being hopeful, ambitious, and forward-thinking. I’ve always known Mexico as being such an expansive (sometimes contradictory) place, and I think its capital captures all of this — the beautiful, the ugly, the past, the future, the prosperity, the poverty, — in such kaleidoscopic colour. I truly love that place.
2) I had the best tamales of my life at Casa Jacaranda, an extraordinary culinary experience in the Roma district of Mexico City. But I have to say, nothing beats a bowl of fresh guacamole.
Eddy Boudel TanModeratorSeptember 26, 2020 at 1:36 amPost count: 16
That was a lot of fun! Thanks to everyone who took the time to hang out with me on this Friday evening. I love to connect with readers, so don’t hesitate to find me on Twitter and Instagram (@eddyautomatic).
Have a lovely weekend, and enjoy all the literary lavishness that the THIN AIR festival is offering over the next few weeks.
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