First up in May! Whoo! Jax Cassidy! >.> But she abandoned me in May so I have nothing more to say about her. ;X
Brace yourselves… although I’m a city girl on the outside, I’m truthfully a country girl at heart.
Yep. It’s all true. I was raised in a tiny little cozy town called Van Buren in Arkansas. At the time the population was probably 13,000…maybe. Those were the best years of my youth! I grew up learning English from watching daytime soaps with my mom and a variety of children’s programming like The Electric Company and Sesame Street. Mr. Rogers would take off his shoes and change into his slippers and sweater on a daily basis. When I look back, I realize that I was fortunate because I can’t recall having to deal with discrimination and hate. It was a community of very loving, caring people that I was surrounded by and it shaped me into the person I am today.
This is embarrassing, but also a blessing. Growing up with my friends, I’d never known that I was any different than the kids I hung out with. I was just…well, me. There were no identity issues I can recall except for the usual childhood angst and puberty. In fact, for most of that time, I’d assumed I was white. It’s the truth. Maybe I was a little sheltered or naïve but I lived a normal, carefree, tomboy life of playing outdoors and first puppy love crushes. Even the town I lived in was magical. The downtown could be a set from every romantic comedy that featured small towns. Sweet Home Alabama, Beautiful Girls, or Hope Floats could’ve been filmed there. I swear, the townspeople reminded me of something out of Hart of Dixie. We always had an interesting cast of real life characters.
It wasn’t until the end of my middle school years that I discovered that I was different. I’d campaigned for the high school student council and during our election week I was faced with a harsh reality. Some cruel kids had painted through my signs with the words “Gook” and “Chink”. I figured it out real quick how it felt to be despised by my ethnicity. My true friends helped me remove the signs and even offered their support but that was the turning point in my life. I had to start seeing the reality of it all. There were people out there whose ignorance became their crutch and it was out of fear, their environment, and lack of knowledge that made them who they are.
Fast forward many, many years later. I embraced my love for being American as I do for my Asian heritage even more. I’m grateful for the life I’ve been given and I feel like it’s a blessing to have the perfect balance of Eastern and Western cultures to turn to. I don’t feel any differently than when I was growing up. I’m, well…still me.
As an Asian author it is important for me to continue writing ethnic characters. I have a responsibility to show that we’re no different in the way we think or act when it comes to love. It’s a universal language and readers will eventually forget what race the characters are as long as they’re immersed in the storytelling. Most importantly, I also have a responsibility to my readers, Asian women who look up to me. I’ve been blessed to have met readers who appreciate what I’m doing and have told me how wonderful it is to see Asian heroes and heroines. This is exactly what I’d hoped for. That’s why I want to continue to penning romances that these women can relate. It’s unfortunate I didn’t have books featuring strong Asian women to read, but now I am able to provide to readers this very thing that was missing from my life.