I have the pleasure of welcoming Sang Pak the author of Wait Until Twilight for an interview at Layers of Thought. It is a special interview in that it is a first author interview. How fun and cool is this! Thank you so much Sang for answering these questions.
I have asked a series of questions some about Sang personally, a few geared to a number of Layers of Thought’s readers – developing and working writers themselves (bloggers and more,) and I also asked him a few controversial questions which center around my observations on cover choices.
You look fairly young do you mind if I ask your age?
35...but yeah, I still get carded when I buy beer.
Wow, I would have guessed 28 at the oldest. How nice.
You are from Georgia do you have one of those wonderful Southern accents?
It's faded a great deal, but when I was growing up definitely. These days some notice a slight drawl but most don't. It comes out more with certain words like 'fire'.
You and I have exchanged several emails where you stated that you are a "guy's guy" and you like sports and beer? Do you have any other special personality traits or talents other than writing that you would like to share with Layer of Thought's readers?
Guy's guy!? Yes, I wrestle mountain lions in my spare time. I emphasized the sports and beer because I find people stereotype writers and assume they are intellectual and erudite. I love exercise and find I cannot write if I'm not exercising on a regular basis. It's as if my whole body is my writing mechanism and I need it to be fit, for the writing to go well.
Well its too bad you did not have some pictures of the wrestling with mountain lions. That would be a great book selling gimmick. Also I think intellectuals are great.
How long have you been writing? did you start young or wake up one morning and decide you were going to write a book?
I've been writing for about 6-7 years. I quit grad school at about age 29 and wanted to really do something with my life. I'd always been interested in the creative arts but never followed through on anything. So among the artistic endeavors, writing was the cheapest and most solitary. So I chose that and actually followed through.
What are the books that influenced you the most to write? and why? What are your top three favorite books of all time? Are there any that you particularly did not get along with?
I've always loved Hermann Hesse. His book really enriched my life and helped me through some hard times and I felt if I could do something like that, it would really be something.
My favorites vary depending on how I feel but I love Narcissus and Goldmund (Hesse), The Idiot (Dostoevsky), The Sea of Fertility - Tetralogy (Mishima), the list actually goes on...but I'll leave it at three.
Books I don't get along with? Ha ha, no...I'm apathetic to books I don't like.
You have been a professional student for some time and have been working on a masters in Psychology? Did your major influence the subject matter that you have written about in this book and if yes how?
No not really. I do have a psychological take on the subject matter of the book, but that analysis is after the fact of writing it. While writing it, I don't take it into consideration.
Why did you decide to write a young adult book? What was your motivation to write this book?
The book is based on a set of dreams I had during a two week period a couple of summers ago. I really had no intention of it being YA and it wasn't until my agent started using that term, that I realized it might be taken that way. To me it's a metaphysical fairytale about a boy caught between 2 worlds, that of chaos/nihilism and order/belief.
After your last sentence there is no way your going to get away with not looking intellectual and erudite.
As you know I liked the fact that your main character was balanced in his experience and usage with potentially addictive elements? Did you plan that? Would you say that your background in Psychology helped you in this aspect when writing your book?
No I didn't plan that. It just came up naturally, because that's the life of a teenager....at least the way I experienced it. Not that I had the exact experiences of Samuel, but it's definitely there in a teenager's life.
Does this book have any basis in reality? Or specifically where did the idea for this book come from? Are some of your characters people you know? Are you one of the characters in the book?
Ah, as I mentioned it's based on a set of dreams. So all the characters and places are based on reality. Many of the characters are amalgams of several people plus aspects I created. Same thing for places. There is a little bit of me in Samuel, of course in the dreams the protagonist was me.
Sorry about the redundant question – this is my first interview. :)
What is your process when you write? Computer, pad, and paper? Music or silence? Coffee, beer, water?......any peculiar quirks? How about advice suggestions for would be writers?
Always with my laptop. Half the time, with music, half the time with silence. Always clear headed and usually after I've done some exercise, biking, running, and the best is swimming.
How did you go about the process of getting your book published? Any advice to Layer of Thought’s readers? Has being a published author affected you in anyway?
Keep writing and keep submitting...that's all you can do. So just keep doing it. As you keep writing you'll get better and up your chances every time. Being published is huge for a writer. It's strange, but it really legitimizes the writer. I don't know if it's the same with the other arts but with writing, its a huge boost of confidence.
Now for the controversial part - Are you familiar with the book Liar ands it's disjointed cover?
No, not familiar with Liar. I'm actually not very well read.
I certainly do not believe your not the well read. I have you as a friend on Goodreads (link to Sang Pak there and see some of his book choices), so I take it your trying to look less intellectual again? ;)
Liar (Goodreads link on title) is a recently released book which was written about a young black woman, by an author named Justine Larbalestier. The cover was published with a picture of a young white woman on it even though the book is about a young black woman and the author wished otherwise. It caused quite a stir in the book blogosphere. I have noticed this phenomena happening with several of the authors I have featured here of non white ethnicity where there is a white person on the cover.
Samuel, the main character in your novel, could have easily been of Asian decent and his physical description was not specific. Did you have any choice in what the publisher chose for your cover? Its a lovely cover but how did you feel about it being a red head white kid, rather than one with a darker ethnicity, which you have included liberally in the characters of your book? What are your thoughts on this issue?
I deliberately excluded any physical description of Samuel. I wanted to maintain the first person dream aspect I experienced. The white kid on the cover was chosen to recreate the mood of the book and purely as a marketing ploy to catch the readers eye. At first I wasn't really happy with it but I can see why they chose it. The publisher's goal is purely to sell the book. It's the bottom line and when a writer enters the marketplace, different rules apply. I don't mind that he's white at all...they wanted a creepy androgynous looking kid that would attract female buyers. Race is not the central issue of the book so I wasn't really concerned with that. With future books, who know? This issue could come up.
Well, the guy on the cover fits their goal, but enough with the heavy stuff.
Will you write another book? Any specific plans as to a YA, adult novel? How about a little plug to entice the readers?
Ha ha, I don't talk about works in progress. Bad luck!
I personally don’t believe in bad luck. Its important to go with your gut feeling, even if we are immensely curious.
Is there anything else you would like us to know about you, your book, the process, or life in general?
I only give information if asked!
Great answer. LOL!
Its been a pleasure working with you. Through my interactions with you, you have been a positive person, which is why I like the picture you included with your responses – even if isn’t of you wrestling a mountain lion. It shows a different side to you rather than your author cover picture – less intense.
Thank you for contacting Layers of Thought and giving me the opportunity to read and review your first book – Wait Until Twilight.
For more information on, to connect with Sang Pak on his website, Goodreads, facebook, as well as Amazon purchasing information please see the following links:
Preview of Wait Until Twilight from Layers of Thought
Review of Wait Until Twilight from Layers of Thought