Love and Other Moods is a coming-of-age story set in contemporary China, about falling in love, learning to adult, finding strength, and discovering one’s place in the world.
Naomi Kita-Fan uproots her life from New York to China when her fiancé’s company transfers him to Shanghai. After a disastrous turn of events, Naomi finds herself with no job, no boyfriend, and nowhere to live in a foreign country.
Amidst the backdrop of Shanghai welcoming millions of workers and visitors to the 2010 World Expo, we meet a tapestry of characters through Naomi: Joss Kong, a Shanghai socialite who
leads an enviable life, but must harbor the secrets of her husband, Tay Kai Tang. Logan Hayden, a womanizing restaurateur looking for love in all the wrong places. Pan Jinsung and Ouyang Zhangjie, a silver-aged couple struggling with adapting to the ever-changing faces of their city. Dante Ouyang, who had just returned to China after spending years overseas, must choose between being filial and being in love. All their dreams and aspirations interweave within the sprawling web of Shanghai.
Topic: Writing Process
What does your writing space look like?
I have two young children who tend to sneak into my writing nook and misplace my papers and books. Needless to say, my writing space can get messy! I don’t always write in the same exact spot. Whenever an idea pops into my head I jot it down anywhere. I always have pens and paper in my purse!
Favorite and least favorite part of the writing process?
Favorite process is the writing journey itself.
Least favorite process is pitching the manuscript.
What’s your favorite reading or writing drink?
I like to settle in a good book with mostly tea–milk tea, boba, or hot tea such as matcha, pu’er, tieguanyin. However during the many, many 3am writing sessions (when the majority of my book was written), then I’d resort to coffee.
How do you develop your plot and characters?
For me, visualization is an essential element to my writing. I try to visualize what my characters look like, where they live, how they grew up etc. Once I have that picture established, the rest of the writing flows a bit more easily.
You write love stories. So what’s the most romantic thing that has ever happened to you?
Peter and I went on fifty dates which we diligently recorded in a notebook before we were officially a couple. We are now married!
How did you come up with a title for your book?
I had at least thirty potential titles for my book. Ultimately I narrowed it down to several and conducted a poll with family and friends.
Explain the Chinese characters on your book cover and on the photos inside of the book.
The four characters on the book cover literally translated, means “romantic journey in the neon city.” Inside the novel are four photos, which serve as dividers to the four parts of the book. So each Chinese character is represented in each part of the book: “romance,” “journey,” “neon,” “city.” Indeed Love and Other Moods is a romantic story about journeys and voyages, both literally and figuratively for the characters. Naomi crosses oceans and borders, and in the process, learns and grows as a person.
A fun fact about the city photographs inside the novel: my husband Peter took them! We first met in Beijing (although he had seen my photo from my mutual friend in New Jersey, but that’s another story). In Shanghai, Peter was always taking photos of the city wherever we went, so I had a treasure trove to choose from!
Were the romantic relationships in the book based on people you had known in Shanghai?
Somewhat. Almost every character or situation was inspired by something that had happened in real-life. For example, I had known people in China whose family were opposed to them dating a Japanese person because of what had happened during World War Two. I knew some Joss and Tay types, where the second generation was loosely connected to the government in some capacity yet decided to date outside of their circle. I also knew many Logans in China—western men who had moved to Shanghai and treated the city as their personal playground. Although many foreigners have left China recently ahead of the pandemic, there is still a sizable expatriate contingent in Shanghai. Many of my friends are still there, and have married a local or is dating somebody from China.
Does writing energize or exhaust you?
I think writing can be both exhilarating and exhausting. When I’m on deadline then I get stressed out. But personally I can’t imagine NOT writing. It’s integral to my everyday now.
How can one improve on writing skills?
Read and write every single day. Even if it’s just a paragraph.
What are some tried-and-true writing techniques for transporting the reader?
I’m a firm believer in personally visiting any location or backdrop you’re writing about, or at least conducting very thorough research. When I travel to a new place, my routine is to take a massive amount of photographs and videos, buy local artisan crafts and memorabilia, and if possible, I try to visit the region’s bookstore to find unique reads sold only locally. When it comes to writing the scene, I gravitate towards setting the atmosphere with descriptions of the location’s five senses–sights, sounds, scents, touch and tastes. Sometimes I create a mood board which helps me to visualize a setting. And when in doubt, have someone that lives there or has been to that location read your work.
What is the most valuable piece of advice you would give aspiring writers?
Never give up. Keep on writing even if you only have one person reading your work. Also, be kind to yourself.
Thank you, Crystal Z. Lee and Lola’s Blog Tours
About the author
Crystal Z. Lee is a Taiwanese American bilingual writer. She has called many places home, including Taipei, New York, Shanghai, and the San Francisco Bay Area. She was formerly a public relations executive who had worked with brands in the fashion, beauty, technology, and automotive industries. Love and Other Moods is her debut novel. She’s already hard at work on her next novel and a children’s book.
Instagram @ Crystal.Z.Lee
Amazon Paperback: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1913891011
There is a tour wide giveaway for the book blitz of Love and Other Moods. One winner will win a “Love and Other Moods” gift basket filled with items related to Love and Other Moods. Total value at $70. US Only.