Today we’re thrilled to have Kristina McMorris join us as our guest. Kristina is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author and the recipient of more than twenty national literary awards, as well as a nomination for the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, RWA’s RITA® Award, and a Goodreads Choice Award for Best Historical Fiction. Inspired by true personal and historical accounts, her works of fiction have been published by Kensington Books, Penguin Random House, and HarperCollins.
The Edge of Lost is Kristina’s fourth novel, following the widely praised Letters from Home, Bridge of Scarlet Leaves, and The Pieces We Keep, in addition to her novellas in the anthologies A Winter Wonderland and Grand Central. Prior to her writing career, she hosted weekly TV shows since age nine, including an Emmy® Award-winning program, and has been named one of Portland’s “40 Under 40” by The Business Journal.
So often, novelists are warned not to incorporate stereotypes into our characters, and yet stereotypes exist for a reason: because they’re usually based in truth. There are so many literary rules—not to mention PC guidelines—we’re afraid of breaking. I hope my post will help liberate some writers who might feel hindered in this respect.
The theme was “Asian Invasion.”
For years I had been tasked with planning an annual appreciation party thrown by my family’s company. Invitations would reveal the surprise theme each year, spurring the vast majority of our five hundred guests—from vendors and customers to politicians and journalists—to find or create suitable costumes to compete for the highly coveted first-place title. Up until then, we’d covered the Roaring 1920s, mobster-era ’40s, ’50s diner days, and disco glam of the ’70s. Sprinkled between those had been a Wild West saloon, sports pub, Vegas casino, and a French Renaissance-style masquerade ball. In various ways, culture played such a key role in those events that ultimately it didn’t feel a far stretch to move on to an Asian theme.
“Throw PC out the window! Just have fun!” we told our guests at a time when the fear of offending others had seemed at an all-time high (a miniscule level compared to now). It didn’t require explanation that the reason my family could host a party encouraging creative Asian costumes was simply this: We’re Asians. (Or half, in my case.) I suppose you could say we had an ethnic “hall pass.” And that allowed us, for a single evening, to extend that pass to others.
On event day, it was a delight to watch people pour out of their cars dressed as Chinese take-out boxes, sumo wrestlers, sushi rolls, and the stars of The King and I. [Read more…]