This interview with bestselling author and Big Island resident Mia King (her pen name), known to friends as Darien Hsu Gee, was one of my last before my Advertiser column was canceled. Since then I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing her for other publications (those will be out next year), but thought I’d revisit our interview and post it below.
What I’m Reading | Mia King
Q&A with Christine Thomas
Published 12/08 in Honolulu Advertiser
CT: What are you reading?
MK: I’m reading through my favorite books on writing. “Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life” by Anne Lamott is at the top of the pile, as is Brenda Ueland’s “If You Want to Write: A Book about Art, Independence and Spirit.” I also like “Writing the Memoir: From Truth to Art” by Judith Barrington, whom I studied with 15 years ago, years before I was ever published. Since I write contemporary women’s fiction, I tend to read a lot of that as well, so I have the newest titles from Elizabeth Berg and Susan Wiggs and Kristin Hannah. I also read a lot of business books, so I just started Malcolm Gladwell’s “Outliers: The Story of Success.”
CT: What do you look for in books about writing?
MK: I like books on writing that don’t just talk about writing, but give you lots of first lines and prompts to get you going. It’s one thing to read about writing, and it’s another thing to just sit down and actually write. Books that help you refine your craft and can do so with humor and compassion are big hits with me. I also tend to prefer the less technical books on writing when it comes to creative writing—there’s plenty of time for that later when you’re revising or editing your work—but getting the raw material down first is important.
CT: How do these authors’ principles influence your own writing, such as your novel “Sweet Life”?
MK: I have three kids and a family business, so finding time to write is a challenge. In “Bird by Bird,” Lamott talks about writing short assignments, which is essentially how my books get written. She also talks about first drafts and perfectionism, which can be the bane of any writer. Brenda Ueland’s book starts off with a chapter titled “Everybody is talented, original and has something important to say,” which I think is one of the most encouraging essays on writing out there, and got me writing again after years of working in corporate America.