8Questions: Lac Su, Author of “I Love Yous Are For White People”

LacSuA few weeks ago, Jee wrote a rave review Lac Su’s new book I Love Yous Are For White People. Comments from other folks who have already read the book agree with Jee — Lac’s book is a great read!

Wanting to get to know our new friend even better, Jee and I decided to see if Lac would play along with us in a round of 8 Questions with 8Asians. And what do you know? He was game!

You’ll find our questions — his answers — after the jump.

8Qs for Lac Su, author of I Love Yous Are For White People
1 ) Aside from “I Love Yous,” what else are for white people?
This is a trick question! Seriously, I don’t want to perpetuate more stereotypes. It goes against what 8Asians, Angry Asian Man, Disgrasian, my comrade Mr. Minority Militant, and other Asian Pacific American bloggers are passionately against. If you recall, the title of my memoir, I Love Yous Are for White People, came from my father (not me) the first time I told him, when I was a child, that I loved him. The premise of the book is the difficulty and resistance our older-generation Asian-American parents have expressing those three words. Colleges are offering courses in Asian-American studies to explore why this is so. I’m glad to see that my memoir is being used to explore these cultural differences. Growing up, part of the hardships I endured stemmed from the need to hear those three words. The “American” side of me wanted the affection and sentiments I saw on T.V. or in my “white” friends’ homes. My interpretation (at the time) was that, since my parents didn’t give me what the “white people” gave their children, I was going to find it somewhere else. For me, it was in the streets. You need to read the book to know who my Pa deemed “white people.”

2 ) What if, any, alternate titles did you have for your book?
If it was up to me, it would have been titled Lac’s Story. But my publisher wanted something more catchy and “provocative.” At first, I didn’t care too much about what the title of the book was going to be. I was busy writing. But the more I wrote, the more excited I became about wanting people to read my stories. Then I regressed, and realized that my editor was a genius for suggesting that the book get a “provocative” title. If I wanted people to read this book, it needed a “provocative” title—for me as a first-time author and an Asian-American one at that. We get no love in the literature department in the mainstream. Dan Brown could title his book Ape Shit, and millions of people would want to read it. I want to be the Dan Brown for Asian-American literature. You feel me? Especially when I have important stories to share. For alternative titles, I toyed with This Much Is True, Learning to Fish, The Crippled Walk, and The Sun Has Yet to Rise. (Not so catchy or “provocative”). J

I Love Yous Are for White People was already a chapter title when I was looking for a “provocative” title. While I was editing this chapter, the title jumped right out at me, slapped me in the face a couple of times, and said, “Hey, dumbass, why don’t you use me as the book title?”

3 ) You probably had thousands of other memories that you could have shared. How did you pick and choose (narrow down) what stories from your childhood and youth you would share in your memoir?
It was very easy to choose the stories that became this book. Before I sat down to write, I asked myself, “What are the stories that have shaped and defined the person you are today?” It also helped that some of these memories—from my dreams—still wake me up in the middle of the night as an adult. My friend Vu and grandmother Ne still pop up in my slumber from time to time. Vu is the way I remembered him. And Ne always stirs me awake with the message, “Learn to love more, son.” The trick for making this book work was to weave these stories together in an organic and cohesive way.

4 ) Was there anything cut from the book that you wished you could have included?
Yes, I talked in the epilogue about a story that didn’t make it into the book. It was on the day of my sixth-grade graduation ceremony—a very special day for me. That afternoon, I thought about how I had entered an “American” school seven years prior not knowing a lick of English to then receiving a diploma as a gifted student and an award for being the “Best Artist” in school. I was so thrilled. I wanted to share the excitement and pride with my Pa because he always emphasized education any chance he got. The sad thing for me was, Pa didn’t show up to the ceremony; neither did any of my family members except for my little sister Quy. He didn’t feel a sixth-grade graduation was worth his time witnessing. I remember tossing the diploma in a metal trash can, but I kept my art award.

5 ) What superpower do you wish you could have?
What?! Superpower? Okay, well, if you must ask, I wish I could shut the world up any time I want. Anytime. The world is so freaking noisy at times. The kind of noise that bothers you even when you’re in isolation. In which case, I also wish I could stop the noise inside my head created by the noise in the world. Sometimes, it seems as though silence is not quiet enough. At times, I yearn for just fifteen minutes of muted bliss. Will you grant me this superpower? LOL.

6 ) What was your father’s reaction to you marrying a “white person”?
Ah…I hope to answer this question in detail in my sequel. I can’t wait to complete it to share it with you. I’m making slow progress—still recovering from the emotional trek writing I Love Yous Are for White People. All I can say at this point is that love has many faces.

7 ) What’s your guilty pleasure?
What?! Well, if you must ask, I like to drink a 40 oz. of Old English from time to time. I’m alone in my garage with a box full of old family picture albums. I look at each picture and try to bring the moment back—how I felt, what I was thinking, where I was. It’s nostalgic and bittersweet to reminisce about the days of my childhood. I reflect on how far I’ve come. I often shed tears. But by the time I dust off the corner of my 40 oz., I smile and tell myself that it’s okay now—I can let go. Billy Holiday, The Carpenters, The Smiths, Jose Alfredo Jimenez, Stevie Wonder, Tupac, Common, or Mag Flux usually blares from my speakers. And I sit there and think…until my eyes grow heavy and I fall asleep. So much pleasure…

8 ) What’s next for Lac Su?
Well, I wrote about the top ten things I need to do before I say “see you in the next lifetime” in the epilogue of the book. But for the short term, every single day, I’m learning to be a good father. It’s more difficult for me because I was never taught how to be one or had a model father I want to mirror. My Pa is a good father in his own way. I will pass down all the valuable lessons, wisdom, and principles he has taught me. So you can say I want to be a “white” father who will pass down the Asian traditions to my children. You can call me Mike Brady-Su, hence, American-Asian.

Thanks for playing, Lac!

If you haven’t checked out I Love Yous Are For White People, you can order it on Amazon, or stay tuned at 8Asians for an upcoming giveaway of an autographed copy! Thanks again, Lac!

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About jozjozjoz

jozjozjoz is a taiwanese-american gal who lives and blogs underneath the hollywood sign and who doesn’t clean her fishtank unless the fish starts to do the backstroke. she is also able to leap tall buildings in a single bound, but cannot stop from bumping into door handles, cabinet doors, and anything else that protrudes or has a sharp edge. she does not run with scissors for this same reason. she can pet the fur off a dog but don’t ask her to go anywhere near a horse. or a moth. or a roach. her dealings with L.A.’s finest (aka the parking violations department) are legend, as are her giant sneezes. Other than the two too many joz’s, jozjozjoz is a perfectly normal, relatively sane individual who defies the odds, reaches for the stars, and carries moonbeams home in a jar. She’d rather be a fish… but not in her own dirty fishtank. http://www.jozjozjoz.com
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