My friend and writer, Shawna Yang Ryan, was recently interviewed by Author Magazine. She describes how she became an author, her pursuit of writing as a career, and about her novel Water Ghosts getting publish. Recently, the book was re-released with another printing, featuring a new cover. Originally published under the title Locke 1928 back in 2007, the novel tells the following story:
Three bedraggled Chinese women [who] suddenly appear out of the mist one afternoon in a small Chinese farming town on the Sacramento River, and their arrival throws the community into confusion. Two of the women are unknown to the townspeople, while the third is the long-lost wife of Richard Fong, the handsome manager of the local gambling parlor, who had left her behind in China many years earlier and had not yet returned for her… As the lives of the townspeople become inextricably intertwined with the newly arrived women … And when a flood threatens the livelihood of the entire town, the frightening power of these mysterious women who arrived in the mist will be revealed.
Shawna’s first published novel, Water Ghosts has received numerous glowing reviews and was selected as the finalist for the 2008 Northern California Book Award. Locke is an actual town in California that had one of the earliest Chinese settlements in the United States at the turn of the 20th century. Most Chinese and other Asians moved to the United States after the immigration reform in the mid-1960s, so it is always interesting to read about what life was like for Chinese immigrants (as well as descendants of the Gold Rush) of that era.
Back in August, I was able to attend a talk that Shawna gave at the Chinese Historical Society of America Museum in San Francisco where she discussed the historical context of Water Ghosts, the issues of immigration, prostitution, and others in their relevance to today’s culture. I am always fascinated by the Asian American experience prior to immigration reform in the 1960’s. I can’t even imagine the level of discrimination and challenges faced by immigrants prior to the age of telecommunications and jet travel.