Interview: Wesley Chu on Tao, Books are a Writer's Babies, & Reviews

November 11, 2013 Author Feature, Interview 9

There’s an alien in my head!! Ok maybe not my head…but definitely this one guys head named Roen. I have to say though – that alien sure works one hell of a makeover on this guy. Right so, aliens, espionage and a kick in the pants full of humor. I’m happy to have with us today the author of The Lives of Tao & the recently released book 2, The Deaths of Tao – Wesley Chu. *drumrollllll*

TaoMy review of Book One: The Lives of Tao
My review of Book Two: The Deaths of Tao

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Welcome to My Shelf Confessions Wesley! We are so excited to have you!

Hey Tabitha, thanks for having me. Let’s rock this party.

Now that the euphoria from releasing your debut novel, The Lives of Tao has worn off how are you feeling this year now that the sequel Deaths of Tao has just released?

Publishing books is like giving birth. Wait wait, I’m going to apologize right now before I get in trouble with all the moms in the world. Yes, I agree that it’s physically not as painful.  Mentally…hmm, maybe I should just shut up while the hole’s not too deep.

I do feel like I have two kids right now, and as all good Asian parents, I’m already comparing the two, deciding which one is my favorite and which one has to wash dishes every night. But I am hugely proud of both for different reasons.

Can you give us a book pitch Twitter style in 140 characters or less for each book?

Fat loser meets snarky alien. Gets in shape. Fights war over control of humanity’s evolution. Gets a girlfriend. Not in order of importance.

Guy picks alien symbiote over wife and child. Bad choice. Aliens want to clean house and bow chicka bow bow on Earth. #stinkytofu

You had mentioned when we recently chatted that you think Deaths of Tao is a better and stronger book than its predecessor.  Why do you think that is?

Here are the kids comparisons now. It’s okay, Lives, I still love you.  Deaths is a fundamentally different beast than Lives. While the first book was an origin coming-of-age buddy story, the scope of Deaths is much bigger.

Whereas Lives was focused primarily on Roen’s development and his relationship with Tao, Deaths sports three main POVs, including Roen’s estranged wife Jill’s and this crazy little shit named Enzo who not only is awesome but knows how awesome he is. We also have political intrigue, we have a diabolical world-ending plan, we got destroyed relationships, and we have stinky tofu!

How about a character dossier on each of your main characters? I’ll give you my example of Roen. Feel free to give us your own too – you’re much more witty than I.

Roen: Lumpy, dumpy nerd and over eater, with some major self esteem issues turns spy and develops a spine.

Your turn!

I’ll give you one.

Enzo: Cool kid in high school you can’t stand because he’s just so beautiful, damn good at everything, but so full of himself. He’s someone you admittedly despise but secretly want to be his friend if he even gives you the time of day. Oh, and he’s little bit of a psychopath.

If you were a member of the alien race, the Quasing what sort of host would you be hoping to inhabit? *personally I think we should keep you away from all public figures you’d probably destroy entire countries with your fiddling*

Dude, I’d be the worst kind of host. I will admit right now that you give me an inch of power and influence and that crap will go straight to my head. I’d play stupid games like try to control the world’s sriracha market or something and then buy castles in Scotland to reenact scenes from Braveheart.

Are there things you would go back and change now about Lives of Tao if you could?

Here we go with comparing my kids again. You’re gonna give poor Lives a complex! Okay, to be fair though, there are a few things I would do differently.  I remember when I was plotting out Deaths, I kept looking back thinking, dang, I killed all my favorite people. Whyyyyy Wes? This isn’t the Marvel universe; they have to stay dead. You can’t use them anymore. Nooooooo!

Was there any deeper message you were trying to impart with your two Tao books – or just out to write the best kick-ass book you could?

I didn’t set out to preach a specific message but I’d like to think I came of age alongside Roen and found myself with Lives. For many years, I was working a soul-sucking job and hated the direction my career was going.  Eventually, I realized that I’m the only one that can achieve my dreams of becoming an author. No one is going to give it to me. I quit my many hobbies, sat my ass on the desk every night, and worked hard to make it happen. I’d like to think that Roen’s journey from an out-of-shape loser with self-esteem issues to becoming the person he wanted to be mirrors my own journey to become a writer.

How would you entice a reader to pick up your books that doesn’t normally read SF, aliens or anything dealing with espionage?

With an offer of undying love, devotion, and a lifetime supply of edible insects. I hear they’re delicious as well as nutritious. And if that doesn’t work, I’ll give them my puss-in-boots sad look.

Even tho you’re a writer, you also hold down a full time job that is not related to the publishing industry.  How are you holding up under this strain?

This best sums up how it feels like to be a writer. It’s like having homework every night for the rest. Of. Your. Life. But it’s awesome. Strain-wise…hmm…you know how they say guys think about sex all the time? I’m too busy worrying about finishing books to think about sex. Dude….I have issues.

You are a definite go getter when it comes to being involved in the marketing and publicity for your books. So can you tell me if you think that has really helped you?  

I think reviewers and the blogging community are paramount for book’s success. You guys are the author’s word of mouth and it’s a life line for us. In this difficult age of publishing, we depend on your support to hand-sell (internet-sell?) our work and keep us writing. Basically, I love you Tabitha, with the burning passion of a thousand stars.

*ahh shucks I think I’m getting a nose bleed* Do you read all of the reviews you find for your work? And how important are reviews and ratings?

As for reading reviews, all authors know that we shouldn’t be reading them, but many do anyway. Not gonna lie and I probably shouldn’t be telling you this but I read every single damn thing. Ratings and reviews definitely are important for authors. We depend on your Amazon, Goodreads, bloggers, B&N reviews…etc… in order to find new readers. So please please, if you read a book that you enjoy, take the time to put up a quick review. We appreciate it hugely.

When it comes to critical or downright negative reviews – those can be a real blow. Crazy reviews that offer no insight into the book and say the book gave them AIDS aside, do you think some of the actual thoughtful critical reviews have value in putting your book in the right readers hands? Did you come across any that didn’t feel like a bee stung you in the eye?

Ah yes, to the guy who said reading my books gave him Aids, thank you Sir. Hell, I’ll wear that one like a badge of honor. It’s almost like a super power actually. As for quality critical reviews, I do appreciate the feedback. I’m not writing to try to please everyone; that’s impossible. However, I am always trying to improve my craft and constructive criticism helps make me a better writer. I’d like to think that each book I write will be better than the previous.

I remember in our chat I had asked if you ever considered writing for the young adult crowd. Especially consider its a genre that adults also read heavily in. You mind sharing with us what your editor said? tee hee hee

No I will not share what my agent said to me! I will admit that my **cough** lower body clenched when I read the email. Okay, maybe I am sharing a little too much information here.

I know you’ve signed a book deal with Tor – could you also tell us a bit about that book and when we can expect to see it published?

I recently signed a deal with Tor Books, with the first book called Time Salvager hopefully coming out in 2015. It’s about a time traveler named James who travels back in time to scavenge for resources from a more prosperous past. Time laws are strict though. He can only go back to dead end time lines—scenarios right before a disaster or a ship explosion…etc—so his actions cannot affect the present. The problem with his job is that he experiences the last horrific moments of all his victims and can’t do anything about it.

That tends to mess with a guy’s head.

It sounds amazing *don’t mind my drool…and the zombie stare….must have booook nowwww*

Um…you have something on your mouth. Wait…what are you doing? Dude, you’re up in my space. Oh my gawd, you just bit me. What is wrong with you? Ugh, I feel kinda hot now.

Ok, I’ll be fine really I can’t …err can wait. Pay no attention to the rustling in your bushes.

Word of advice, kids. Nothing good ever comes out of things rustling in the bushes. Except bloggers.

It’s been really great having you and I appreciate you taking the time to sit through my interrogation. I hope Deaths of Tao does wonderfully!

Thanks for having me and I hope everyone enjoys the series. I had a blast writing it and hope to keep at it for several more books!


The Deaths of Tao

The sequel to The Lives of Tao.

The Prophus and the Genjix are at war. For centuries they have sought a way off-planet, guiding humanity’s social and technological development to the stage where space travel is possible. The end is now in sight, and both factions have plans to leave the Earth, but the Genjix method will mean the destruction of the human race.

That’s a price they’re willing to pay.

It’s up to Roen and Tao to save the world. Oh, dear…

The Deaths of Tao (Tao #2)

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Tabitha (Pabkins)

When I'm in the zone I can flip book pages faster than the eye can see - screaming "More Input!" I'm a book, yarn, & art supply hoarding goblin who loves to draw, make toys and craft all sorts of creepy cute things. My current habit is to listen to audio books while I'm arting it up!
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9 Responses to “Interview: Wesley Chu on Tao, Books are a Writer's Babies, & Reviews”

  1. Tammy

    I’m pretty damn excited about the book deal with Tor! I love it when really good authors are recognized by the bigger houses. Although Angry Robot seems like a great place to start:) Awesome interview guys!
    Tammy recently posted…Stacking the Shelves (42)My Profile

    • Tabitha the Pabkins

      I couldn’t believe it either until I saw it with my own eyes! It really is up there on the book 1 amazon 1 star reviews. I have never seen such a ridiculous review before!

      • Mogsy

        Yeah, the rule of thumb for stinky tofu is, the more it reeks the better it tastes. I’ve had it when I lived in Hong Kong and China, and it was a favorite of my mom’s. You can probably go to Chinatowns across this country and find some places that have stinky tofu though.
        Mogsy recently posted…Waiting on Wednesday 11/13/13My Profile