Today I’m excited to share about the last book I read: Living Color, by Graham Burnette.
The novel incorporates a couple subjects of personal interest: art and Chinese culture. (Brief synopsis: the protagonist, Jess Anderson, is a painter who experiences a life-changing week when she’s hired to paint the house of Mrs. Au, an elderly Chinese immigrant. Hearing the stories of Mrs. Au’s life in China causes Jess to reexamine her own life and choices.)
But there’s another reason for interest: my uncle is the author.
My parents surprised me a couple weeks ago when they mentioned receiving an Amazon link to a book by Graham Burnette. Sure enough, it turns out that my uncle had not only published his first book, but that he had written it in a month!
I asked my uncle about the inspiration behind and experience writing this novel:
You’re now a published author, but that’s not your day job. Could you tell me a little about what you do?
I’m a general partner in several venture capital investment funds. SBV Venture Partners is a private fund, with investments from banks, insurance companies, etc – mostly in Europe – that was created in 2000 and has invested in early-stage technology and health-care companies. SBV will complete operations in June of this year and return the profits to our investors. Red Planet Capital is a fund that was created in 2006 in partnership with NASA for the purpose of finding technologies being developed with private venture capital financing, but which can have a secondary application in the nation’s space program. We continue to find technologies and introduce them to NASA on a regular basis.
What inspired you to write this book?
I’d really never thought about writing a novel. But on November 6 , I was listening to a technology podcast while driving my two daughters to their music theory classes in San Fancisco. I listen to many tech podcasts regularly to keep up on new products and technologies. The hosts were talking about National Novel Writing Month and its web site, NaNoWriMo.org. The organization encourages people to write a novel during the month of November each year. Their definition of completing a novel is writing 50,000 words. So, a novel can be completed in one month by writing about 1,667 words per day – and starting as late as Nov. 6 I could still complete a novel by the end of the month by averaging 2,000 words per day. I thought that it might be fun to try writing a novel, and the concept of a person that used colors to communicate emotions in much the same way that a musician uses sounds popped into my head. With that, I started writing and the story took on a life of its own.
How much of the book is based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
My wife’s mother and father both came to the United States from China. My father-in-law especially lives deeply in the Chinese-American community in Sacramento. He has been very generous through the years in telling me stories about his life in China, coming to the United States, and raising a family in the US. Only one story in the book is a direct retelling of something that he told me – the rest are my own fictional tales within the general framework of the stories that I have heard in the family.
You wrote this book in a month. How did you do it? What was the hardest part of writing this book?
When I was in my 20s, I ran three marathons. I learned from training for them that great accomplishments are generally not achieved in a short span, but rather by building up a large amount of small accomplishments over a long period. In that way, I knew that I could write a book as long as I forced myself to write a small amount every single day. Some days, the story flowed more easily and other days it was hard work – but I had written 50,000 words by Thanksgiving weekend. The hardest part was when the story began to diverge from what I thought I was going to write. I had a general plan of what I thought the plot would be, but then many days what I actually wrote was quite different than I had planned. My natural inclination was to throw out what I wrote and go back to the plan, but then I realized that what I had written was a better story than the plan. I mentioned this to a friend who has written many books (both fiction and non-fiction). He told me that his best fiction was always the result of his characters taking over the book. I think that is what happened to me with Living Color. The characters – especially Mrs. Au – took over the story and I just wrote down what they told me.
Did you write this book with a specific audience in mind?
I think my primary audience was myself. Every day, I was really interested in learning what was going to happen next. In addition, each night my daughters read what I had written that day – so I guess I was also writing with them in mind. They are 13 and 15 years old, so perhaps Living Color is written for the “early teen” reader.
Do you have any other books in the works?
I’ve just started working on the next book. It will be another novel, but won’t just come out of my head the way that Living Color did. The new book is set in a particular place and time, and I need to do a good bit of research to get it right – so it will be believable. I’m doing that research now, and hope to start seriously writing this summer.
- Preview and purchase Living Color at amazon.com.
- A Kindle edition is also available.
- For more information about Living Color, visit the official book website.
January 25, 2011 1 Comment
Michael Jackson’s I Want You Back, like you’ve never heard before.
(And another reason I love my brothers.)
December 29, 2010 No Comments
Some snapshots from a great Christmas weekend!
December 26, 2010 No Comments
26 Reasons I’m Grateful for My Parents
(one for each year they’ve had to put up with me so far)
- They love God, each other, and their kids — in that order.
- Their house is always open.
- They anticipate peoples’ needs.
- They encouraged us all to follow our dreams.
- They never let anyone in their house (or anyone leaving their house) go hungry.
- They’re wise and generous with their money and resources.
- They’re not stage parents.
- They chose to homeschool us before it was popular and when people said they shouldn’t.
- But that didn’t mean they holed us up at home all day, thank you very much.
- They’re faithful in fulfilling their responsibilities.
- They’re not afraid to tell me when I’m being stupid.
- They care for their parents.
- They’re hard workers.
- They help me with home repairs.
- They didn’t/don’t complain about chauffeuring us kids around.
- They’re honest about what music they like and don’t like.
- They find enjoyment in simple things.
- They didn’t freak out when I decided to major in music and move to Canada (at least not in front of me).
- They discuss, but don’t force or guilt-trip their preferences on me.
- They put up with endless hours of practicing.
- They didn’t let me quit piano lessons.
- They pray for me.
- They don’t argue in public.
- They don’t speak badly about each other.
- They apologize when they’re wrong.
- They laugh hard, and often.
December 7, 2010 6 Comments
One’s siblings are an obligatory part of a “What I’m Thankful For” list; though I suppose it may be unorthodox to start the list off with them. But since today is my brother Dan’s birthday, it seemed fitting in this case.
When people discover that I have not just four younger siblings but four younger brothers, they usually give me a look of mixed fascination and pity. 85% of the time the next words out of their mouth are, “I’ll bet you wish you had a sister!”
Actually, no, I don’t. Having brothers is pretty cool. Not just because they help me carry stuff, assemble my furniture, and all those other things brothers do — though admittedly, those are nice perks.
My brothers are, for one thing, responsible for a large part of my random knowledge. Just a partial list of subjects of which I would probably know very little – if anything – if it weren’t for them:
- …and basketball
- …and video games
- Chili sauce
- Law schools
- What constitutes a true fast food deal
- Also, while I consider myself geekier than average, I am just not as good as the bros about keeping up with new items on the block. These days, when I contemplate a new tech purchase, I consult at least one brother’s version of Consumer Reports before buying.
On a more serious note — my brothers and I are all very different. As one person said to me, “You guys look like this random group of people that just happen to have the same last name.” They were talking about our physical features, but this extends to our personalities as well. Each of them has encouraged and challenged me in his own way:
- Steve has challenged me to think more deeply about my convictions and standpoints on certain issues. Of all the siblings, we’re probably the most similar in personality but differ philosophically on a few things. Steve is probably one of the most intelligent people I know, so it’s never easy arguing with him. Whether or not he succeeds in convincing me of his viewpoints (usually not, haha), I appreciate that we can challenge one another respectfully.
- Dan is remarkably trustworthy and helpful. He is always willing to help out when I ask, even when the task sucks (i.e. volunteering at crazy charity events). He’s also disgustingly smart and athletic.
- Joe has taught me to relax. Very few things get him worried, but he seems to get everything done in good time. Actually, I can’t remember a time when he even appeared frazzled. I, on the other hand, am no stranger to stress. I’d like to think we balance each other out a bit.
- Tim challenges me to take risks. He’s not afraid to attempt and persist in pursuing big things, and works hard to achieve his goals. Maybe being the youngest naturally makes one a fighter. I’d definitely want him on my team.
Despite our differences and quirks, we all get along. Sure, we have our arguments now and then — but I’m truly grateful that I can consider each of my siblings a friend and not just someone to tolerate because we’re related.
Thank God for brothers.
December 1, 2010 3 Comments