Adrienne Fox

Five Questions with Author Jamie Ford

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Author Jamie Ford may be known for his bestselling novels Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet and Songs of Willow Frost: A Novel, but he is also a big nerd at heart. His geek side takes center stage in his contributions to The End is Nigh (The Apocalypse Triptych) (Volume 1), and Secret Identities: The Asian American Superhero Anthology. Jamie Ford was at both Emerald City Comicon, my passion, and the King County Library System Foundation’s Literary Lions Gala, my job, on weekend of March 28, 2015. This kind of nexus for my work and personal life rarely happens, so I took advantage of this opportunity to ask Ford a few questions. Unfortunately we weren’t able to sit down in person at either event: I had work duties at the gala and he had panels and long lines to meet Stan Lee at ECCC.  Yet, we managed to get it done through the magic of email. Hooray for technology.

Jamie Ford

Author Jaime Ford in Seattle.

Here are my five questions with author Jamie Ford.

WatchPlayRead: How did you find yourself attending Emerald City Comicon since you’re best known work is heart-warming (or wrenching) fiction, not a genre work?

Jamie Ford: I was actually planning to go with a bunch of friends in the industry. We all applied for pro passes and I was the only one who passed muster! I mentioned my Asian-themed steampunk stories in the Apocalypse Triptych—that must have done it. Next thing I know I’m being asked to join a panel on diversity. If all of us had been accepted we’d have cosplayed as the Watchmen. (I was set to be the Owl). Maybe next year.

WPR: You have had short stories in genre anthologies Secret Identities: The Asian American Superhero Anthology and the Apocalypse Triptych. Any chance we will have a full genre novel from you in the near future?

JF: I hope so. I’ve been gathering research materials for an Asian-themed gas-lamp fantasy. Not sure where it would fall on the bookstore shelves. But, my new editor is Jennifer Hershey, who edited Neil Gaiman’s American Gods, and the first Game of Thrones book, hopefully she can steer me in the right direction.

WPR: Writing in both spheres, can you talk about what benefits, if any, there are that might be unique to literary versus genre or genre versus literary?Jamie Ford Secret Identities

JF: Hmmm…I honestly don’t think about it much. But now that you mention it, I suppose that in the literary world you’re dancing in front of a much larger audience, so that’s obviously a plus. But that audience may not appreciate the fantastical as much as a die-hard SF&F crowd. Then again, that crowd is currently embroiled in the Hugo Awards kerfuffle, so it’s nice to not be stuck in that mosh-pit at the moment. (Ed. Note: GRRM’s livejournal is a decent jumping off place if you want to explore the issues surrounding the 2015 Hugo Awards as he mentions sources on both sides of the controversy.)

WPR: At ECCC you were on a panel called Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations. What message do you hope the audience took away from your panel?

JF: This big message was that diversity is about inclusion, not about creating a morality play on the page. To me, diversity is about representation, not a forced agenda. No one wants to read a book and have it turn into a sermon.

WPR: Can you recommend some books with crossover appeal that might get a staunch genre reader out of the sci-fi or fantasy aisle and into the fiction section?

JF: The most recent big crossover book is probably The Martian by Andy Weir (drawing literary readers to SF), also Ready Player One by Ernest Cline (drawing SF to literary). Both are fantastic reads. Also, I loved The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz. It had a slight touch of magical realism, but was chock-full of so many comic, D&D, video-game, science fiction sub-references that I think it would be totally satisfying to any die-hard fan of SF&F. Speaking of crossovers, I talk to a lot of book groups and I always recommend that each year they include a book of poetry and a graphic novel.

Visit Jamie Ford’s website to keep up on his new releases.


I want to thank to Jamie Ford for taking the time to answer a few questions. I surely hope that a full-length genre work (or lit with genre leanings) from him comes in the future!

I recently read Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet because it is set in Seattle and tells the story of two young adults who develop a friendship only to have it ripped apart by the relocation of Japanese-Americans to internment camps during WWII—and how they reconcile those unresolved feelings as adults. Sentimental is not often my preferred read. But I liked this book very much and would most definitely recommend Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet for the likeable characters and the focus on the internment, a cultural and historical event too often left out of our history books.

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