Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Interview with Khanh Ha, author of The Demon Who Peddled Longing

Please welcome to the blog today author Khanh Ha, as he answers a few questions about his book and more!

What inspires you to write your stories (novels)?
It’s always something visual: a girl coming down the road on a beautiful white horse; a man wearing a cangue on the way to an execution ground. Or it could be a passion for something. A flame burning low for many years . . . never dying.

How does The Demon Who Peddled Longing differ from your excellent previous novel, Flesh?
“Demon” is set in post-war Vietnam and “Flesh” is at the turn of the 20th century. Though both have the morality in their tales, “Demon” is darker and much more raw.

Do you have a process when you're doing research for your books?
Yes. I handwrite all my research notes in a notepad. In doing so, I register many of the details in my brain. I would end up with hundreds of handwritten pages and then go back and highlight in yellow the most notable details. Then I study the details until I absorb them as if they came from within me and not from an external source anymore.

You have written for many fine literary magazines. How does that differ from writing novels? Do you prefer writing novels?

I do prefer writing novels. I only write short stories during my breaks between writing novels. Yet short stories teach you to write more concisely, because to achieve the climax in a short story is more difficult than in a novel: you can’t waste words; you must capture the moment with precision.

I know you’re probably asked this a lot, but it’s always a burning question: What would be your best advice for aspiring authors?
Develop your voice. Don’t listen to people giving out advice on writing. Just write, then you will find out the incredible intricacy of fiction writing that no one can teach you. It’s like getting on a bicycle and pedaling it around and finding out how to balance yourself, how to steer the contraption. Or you can choose to sit and listen to someone teaching you how to ride a bike!

Do you have a favorite book? Who are your favorite authors?
I have several favorite books: The Sound and the Fury, The Man Who Fell to Earth, Flowers for Algernon, One Hundred Years of Solitude, The Count of Monte Cristo. Reading nourishes writing and I owe it to Faulkner, Hemingway, and Cormac McCarthy.

What can we expect from you next? Can you give us a hint on what you’re working on?
My next novel is set in Đien Bien Phu where the French army surrendered in 1954. It’s a love story. Think of Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez, because the novel spans three decades since 1954, beginning in the valley of Đien Bien Phu, that small valley in the fog and rain of the northwestern forest, a place and time that captivates me all my life, where love blossoms and dies and blossoms again after the lovers have lost each other, aged with the years.

Thank you for joining me today. I really enjoyed chatting with you and look forward to hosting you here at The True Book Addict again in the future.

Thank you, Michelle, for having me on your blog.

About The Demon Who Peddled Longing
Publisher: Underground Voices (November 21, 2014)
ISBN: 978-0-9904331-1-8
Category: Literary Fiction, Multicultural
Tour Date: November, 2014
Available in: Print & ebook, 296 Pages

From the award winning author of 'Flesh', "Demons advocate love-not the compassionate love devoid of possession and sexual desire. It's the lustful love. They tempt humans with such lust, and the moment living beings fall for it, the demons will peddle longing to take them away."

Thus, begins the terrible journey of a twenty-year-old boy in search of the two brothers who are drifters and who raped and killed his cousin also his girl.

Set in post-war Vietnam, The Demon Who Peddled Longing brings together the damned, the unfit, the brave, who succumb by their own doing to the call of fate. Yet their desire to survive and to face life again never dies, so that when someone like the boy, who is psychologically damaged by his family tragedy, who no sooner gets his life together after being rescued by a fisherwoman than falls in love with an untouchable girl and finds his life in peril, takes his leave in the end, there is nothing left but a longing in the heart that goes with him.

Praise for 'Flesh':
"The story is a sensual one, and the love affair in Flesh, too, is carried on in private, but these images have another, darker side.

The prose of Khanh Ha's debut is laden with sensory details that pull readers into multi-dimensional scenes.

Readers need not worry if they have little familiarity with the political and geographical setting; Khanh Ha brings the world alive for readers with details that speak to the human experience in Flesh.

The themes of this work are sweeping and although only a couple of years pass, there are life-changing events which unfold, for both major and minor characters, in a historical context which will be unfamiliar to many Western readers, and which naturally envelops the characters in the novel.
The outstanding element of this novel is the solid invitation extended to readers, to enter this world which Khanh Ha has created in Flesh."-Buried In Print

"Ha's prose is poetic as it paints the scene in which you can smell the opium, see and hear the brown of Tai's village and the busy streets of Hanoi, and feel the delirium of smallpox or his pulse quicken as he begins to fall in love.
From the atmosphere to the myths and legends, Ha generates a novel that will capture readers from the beginning.

Flesh by Khanh Ha is a stunning debut novel that showcases the writer's ability to become a young male narrator whose view of the world has been tainted by his life circumstances and tragedy, but who has the wherewithal to overcome and become a better man."-Serena, Savvy Verse & Wit

"Flesh is a dark, atmospheric historical fiction novel that captures life in Tonkin (northern Vietnam) at the turn of the 20th century. Ha skillfully uses descriptive prose, in some instances it is almost poetic,and many of his descriptions evoke a sensory-filled reaction - sometimes ominous. The settings he describes can be filled with a sensual richness or evoke a sense of foreboding.
All in all, Flesh is highly recommended and I'll be looking forward to what author Khanh Ha publishes next. I think he is definitely a writer to watch."-Lori, She Treads Softly

"Khanh Ha was born in Vietnam. This is his debut novel. Although the events are violent and disturbing, the writing itself is lyrical and haunting. The events seem to unfold in a dream, slowly revealing the stories that make up the intertwined lives of the characters. This book is recommended for readers interested in other cultures, and what family honor will drive men to do."-Sandie, Booksie's Blog 
"As I read Flesh, Khanh Ha's debut novel, it seemed to me that the story is almost dream­like. A dream in that early hours of a hot morn­ing where you are still in between sleep­ing and wak­ing up. Your con­scious mind taps into your unfor­got­ten but repressed mem­o­ries which lash out in vicious force with unfor­giv­ing sto­ry­lines. While not always bad, these dreams have a ten­dency to shape the day or the week with their bru­tal hon­esty and, quite hon­estly, make excel­lent stories.

Mr. Ha is a tal­ented writer; he does a won­der­ful job set­ting the dark, yet poetic, mood and a fine job describ­ing set­tings in vivid, smells, col­or­ful imagery. Each chap­ter reads like a long lost mem­ory, as if Tai was recall­ing his life in an older age and telling the story to a grand­child or an engaged reader."-Zohar, Man Of La Book

About Khanh Ha
Khanh Ha is the author of Flesh (2012, Black Heron Press). He is a three-time Pushcart nominee and the recipient of Greensboro Review's 2014 Robert Watson Literary Prize in Fiction. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Waccamaw Journal, storySouth, Greensboro Review, The Long Story, Permafrost Magazine, Saint Ann's Review, Moon City Review, Red Savina Review, DUCTS, ARDOR, Lunch Ticket,Cha: An Asian Literary Journal, Tayo Literary Magazine, Sugar Mule, Yellow Medicine Review,Printer's Devil Review, Mount Hope, Thrice Fiction, Lalitamba Journal, and other fine magazines.

Read my review of Flesh.

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