Good morning, y’all! I’m excited to bring you another Writer Wednesday interview! This time with author Hudson Lin, whose debut novel released earlier this year and just released her second a couple months ago!
Please welcome Hudson and enjoy the interview!
LEAH: Hi Hudson! Welcome to the blog, it’s great to have you here!
HL: Hi Leah! I’m so happy to be here!
LEAH: In both of your novels, INSIDE DARKNESS and THREE MONTHS TO FOREVER, one of the main characters is of Chinese descent, and they’re both such very different characters! Can you talk a bit about why it’s important to you to include at least one POC character in all your stories?
HL: My decision to include POC in my stories came from the movement on social media for romance to become more diverse. I realized that if I want to see books where people like me get happily ever afters, then I should contribute what I can. After all, I have real life experiences of being a POC that I can use to inform my writing, why not take advantage of that?
LEAH: Yeah, absolutely! And of course, it’s always so much better to read characters who are POC written by AOC because there’s so much more nuance and detail. *smiles* How was writing Sai, a person born and raised in Hong Kong, different to writing Tyler, a Chinese-American who’s lived his whole life in the States? How were they similar?
HL: Actually, writing Sai versus writing Tyler weren’t that different for me. I grew up caught between two cultures, so I was able to tap into both sides to create these characters. With Tyler, there a sense that he’s just like everyone else in his community save for his skin color, and to be treated differently because of his skin color is frustrating and at times offensive. For Sai, it’s more a conflict of values: family loyalty and obedience on the one hand, and independence on the other. I’ve lived through similar experiences as both Sai and Tyler at different points in my life.
LEAH: Oh, that’s interesting that they were so similar for you! And not all that unexpected, because while they’re both such unique characters, they almost felt like two sides of the same coin, in a sense. Now, also in both novels, the main characters, with the exception of Sai, meet each other in locales different from the ones they usually live in. Is there a particular reason why you like to write them essentially out of their element?
HL: I think this happened by coincidence! I didn’t consciously plan to put characters in foreign settings, but in hindsight it probably grew out of my love of travel. I’ve lived in different cities around the world and I travel a lot, so I tend to write those experiences into my stories. I do think that foreign settings can add a different dynamic to a story and creates opportunities for characters to interact with their surroundings in interesting ways. The world is big and stories exist in every unexpected nook and cranny, I’d like to bring them to life as much as I can.
LEAH: That is so true, and I’m looking forward to seeing where your next book takes place! *laughs* INSIDE DARKNESS’ main character Cam is a United Nations Aid Worker, which is not a job that is typically found in romance novels. Why did you select this career path as one to explore in your writing?
HL: In a previous life, I was also a development worker in Kenya. My experience was far different from Cam’s, but it really shaped who I am today. Going overseas to work in development is often glamorized, and people don’t fully understand the challenges and impact it has on the people who do the job. I was certainly guilty of this. I wanted to explore the sometimes unpleasant reality faced by aid workers and know that even if someone comes out damaged, they can still find love and happiness.
LEAH: *nods* That was one thing that initially drew me to the book, because I was so interested to see how you’d depict the process and highlight the aspects that tend to get less exposure. So, INSIDE DARKNESS also delves into some really heavy topics–depression, alcoholism, dissociation, and more. While I think they’re important things to discussion and show in a variety of situations and genres, I know that for some people, these themes might be too intense for romance reading. Did knowing the intensity level might turn off readers ever make you second guess writing this particular story?
HL: The seeds of INSIDE DARKNESS were planted years and years before I thought about being an author. At the time, I was writing for myself and not for any potential readers. I’ve got some dark stuff lurking in my brain! And since I wasn’t constrained by what might be palatable for others, I “let the darkness guide me,” so to speak. I simply wrote what I felt.
LEAH: And thank goodness for that, because this book is absolutely amazing! *grins* Tell us a bit about what you’re currently working on, if you can!
HL: It’s been a slow summer for me! There hasn’t been much writing going on. Next on my to-do list is to convert some of my free online stories into ebooks available for download. The first is called STEPPING OUT IN FAITH about a closeted priest who moves to New York City and finds himself on a journey to reconcile his faith with his sexuality. It’s available now for FREE (https://go.hudsonlin.com/SOIFbf). Follow me on Twitter (@hudsonlinwrites) for announcement when other freebies are available! I’m also working on an F/F featuring Isabelle Donnelly from INSIDE DARKNESS.
LEAH: *rubs hands together* Oh man, I cannot wait for that F/F! There can never be too many sapphic stories! And now, a couple fun questions! What are a few songs that would be on Ben’s playlist?
HL: Ben’s playlist would be a mix of 70s rock music he inherited from his dad and late 90s/early 2000s boy bands from when he was a kid. Songs like Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen, Dream On by Aerosmith, Roxanne by The Police, and Blitzkrieg Bop by Ramones. And then songs like I Want it That Way by Backstreet Boys, Tearin’ Up My Heart by NSYNC, Burnin’ Up by Jonas Brothers, Swear It Again by Westlife.
LEAH: This sounds exactly like my kind of playlist! *laughs* Recommend a few books you’ve enjoyed recently!
HL: The most recent book that had me crying my eyes out is A FALLEN LADY by Elizabeth Kingston. It’s a M/F historical romance about a lady who is “ruined” and runs away to a small village to hide herself from society. The events surrounding her ruination are very traumatic and the story delves into how she’s coped with PTSD (though her condition isn’t identified as such, since that terminology didn’t exist back then). The book taps into all my angsty feels.
Another historical I’ve enjoyed recently is KJ Charles’ A SEDITIOUS AFFAIR, an M/M historical romance that incorporates real life events. The romance is between a high born society gentleman, and a low born social activist/bookstore owner. There is a clash of cultures and of politics, but ultimately their underlying values align enough for them to work through their differences. I love that the story deals with the very real issues of that time period, and I realized that today’s society is struggling with a lot of those same issues.
LEAH: Wow, that first one sounds amazing. The KJC book is already on my wishlist, but I will have to check out the other! *smiles* If your main characters could only eat one dessert for the rest of their lives, what would each of them choose?
HL: Sai’s favorite dessert would be red bean soup. It’s exactly what it sounds like, a sweet, warm soup made from red beans. In Chinese cuisine, beans are considered a sweet ingredient rather than savory, and there many desserts made from different kinds of beans.
Ben would prefer cake, any kind of cake, with lots of frosting. Chocolate cake, carrot cake, red velvet—he’s not picky.
Tyler’s not much of a dessert person. He’d probably forgo dessert altogether.
Cam’s secret pleasure is ice cream. He’s got pints and pints of Ben & Jerry’s Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough in the freezer. Ty thinks it’s gross.
LEAH: All excellent choices! Except Tyler being a party pooper. *laughs* Hudson, thank you so much, again, for stopping by! It was so great to see you.
HL: Thanks for having me! This was so much fun!
Hudson Lin was raised by conservative immigrant parents and grew up straddling two cultures with ofttimes conflicting perspectives on life. Instead of conforming to either, she has sought to find a third way that brings together the positive elements of both.
Having spent much of her life on the outside looking in, Hudson likes to write stories about outsiders who fight to carve out their place in society, and overcome everyday challenges to find love and happily ever afters.
When not engrossed in a story, Hudson knits, drinks tea, and works the 9 to 5 in the beautiful city of Toronto, Canada.