Diverse Author Spotlight is a post series here on Book Deviant where I’ll introduce and interview a marginalized author! You can read the first five on this page!
E.S. Yu is a writer of speculative fiction and a geek who lives for video games, superhero comics, and all things sci-fi/fantasy. E.S. is a recovering law school graduate who lives off green tea and dreams of writing full-time; for now, she follows wherever her muse takes her to places sometimes dark, sometimes quirky, but always hopeful.
E.S. Yu’s pronouns are she/hers or they/them.
Welcome to the next Diverse Author Spotlight, in which I’m interviewing E.S. Yu, the author of Eidolon, for the month of November. I’ll be AC in bold, and E.S. will be EY. I hope you enjoy!!
AC: Hey there! Thank you so much for appearing on my blog, it’s a pleasure to have you. Could you tell everyone a bit more about you and your writing?
EY: Thank you so much for having me! I’m a Chinese American writer of sci-fi and fantasy. Oftentimes I end up writing the marginalized representation that I’d like to read into my stories. Given my experiences as a multiply-marginalized writer, I’m drawn to catharsis, which is why my stories sometimes run a little dark, but I’m also an eternal believer in hopeful endings.
AC: Would you be willing to tell us more about your writing experience in relation to your identities? You say you write marginalized representation that you want to read, can you expand that?
EY: Sure. I find Asian American representation lacking, particularly outside of YA, so that’s something I try to bring to my stories. I want to normalize Asian Americans being allowed to exist in the kinds of stories normally written with white characters, instead of existing to be a negative stereotype or a cultural “teaching moment.” Asexual representation is also something that’s quite personal to me; when I was drafting my first novel, I was having a really difficult time finding romances that respected an asexual character’s sex aversion, so I wrote it myself as a way of giving myself hope. And as a lifelong fan of fantasy and sci-fi, I want to be able to read about characters with my identities existing in the realm of speculative fiction, dealing with fantasy/sci-fi plots.
AC: Why did you choose to write science fiction and fantasy when it comes to representation? Do you think genre affects anything when it comes to representation?
EY: That’s a really interesting question! While I can’t speak for other people, I know that my own perception of the need for representation has been influenced by the different genres I’ve read. Even though I write science fiction and fantasy, since writing about speculative elements is fun for me, I became more aware of the need for diverse representation when I went through a stint of reading a lot of contemporary romance, strangely enough! I had grown up reading mostly Euro-centric fantasy, and for a long time I didn’t question whiteness as default in that genre. But reading contemporary romances made overwhelming whiteness much more obvious and problematic to me, due to my experiences growing up in multicultural America. And I kind of brought those feelings back to writing speculative fiction. I do think one distinction between speculative and contemporary fiction is that, while not all contemporary stories have to be “issue stories,” I think it can be harder to completely avoid touching on racism, ableism, queerphobia/queermisia, etc. in contemporary stories while still portraying marginalized experiences seriously and respectfully, while fantasy/sci-fi worlds can be constructed without those elements as a default. And for me, there’s definitely an appeal in that.
AC: I know that your novel, Eidolon, was just recently published by NineStar Press back in August. Is this your first book? If so, how has it changed you and your writing process?
EY: Yes, Eidolon is my first! I would say this is a far more personal book than any I’ve written before or since, and so that brought with it a unique set of challenges when it came to querying and the publication process (side note: everyone who queries an #ownvoices book deserves a medal, because opening yourself up to rejection when discussing your most personal experiences can be brutal). At the time I drafted Eidolon, it was a form of therapy and healing during an emotionally difficult time in my life, as well as a project that helped me come to terms with major changes in my life. In terms of writing process, since I wrote Eidolon while I was a student (with little free time and not always enough spoons left to focus), I developed a weird sort of “trial and error” method of writing, in which I would draft multiple different versions of the same scene before choosing the one I would actually use in the manuscript. Sounds strange, but it’s still the method I use to this day when I have performance anxiety while writing!
AC: Can you tell us more about Eidolon? About the story as well as the inspiration behind it?
EY: Sure! Eidolon is the story of Vax, an assassin who’s sent by his corporate employer to assassinate a journalist, Zai, but ends up reluctantly teaming up with Zai to expose a conspiracy instead. Along the way, he begins to suspect that he and Zai have met somewhere before, but finding out the truth might destroy him. This story started out as my attempt to write the assassin-and-target enemies-to-lovers romance I’d always wanted to read (with the diversity I craved), but as I worked on it, it began to mirror aspects of my life in surprising ways. In particular, it’s both literally and metaphorically a story about depression and coping with loss. But also, it’s a story about hope existing even after experiencing so much grief and despair, which was something I really needed to believe at certain points in my life.
AC: That sure sounds like a book I need to get my hands on! Do you have any other books in the works? Do you plan to publish anything soon, or are you working on anything you’d like to talk about?
EY: Right now, I’m looking for a home for a fluffy queer romance with a vampire hunter and a gray-ace vampire, so I hope to have news about that early next year! Meanwhile, I’m trying my hand at writing YA fantasy for the first time in years, which is both nerve-wracking and exciting.
AC: Wow, I’m so excited to read your upcoming work! Now, as my traditional ending question, can you give me three (or more!) books/authors you’d like to recommend to readers?
EY: Ohh, great question. I’ll try to go with three books that reflect a variety of styles/genres:
1. Defiant Loyalties by Elizabeth Wilde
2. The Epic Crush of Genie Lo by FC Yee
3. These Rebel Waves by Sara Raasch
AC: I haven’t had the chance to read any of those, but I’ve heard so many good things about Genie Lo! Thank you so much for being on my blog, it was really fun chatting with you!
EY: Thank you so much for having me, it’s been a pleasure!
Thanks for stopping by!
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