How much do you think about other Asian-American or Japanese-American writers and their works when you are actually writing your work? Are there any authors, past and present, both canonical and non-canonical, that you particularly admire?
I have to say that's a very difficult question to answer. No one writer in particular, but certainly the body of writing has influenced my work. But I can't say that I can point to one writer in particular. There's a large enough body of literature, so when I write, on a very subliminal level, I'm aware of the fact that I'm writing out of a certain tradition. But when I'm writing, I'm not thinking about things like that at all. Thinking about literary traditions, other writers, other pieces of literature, books, all of that kind of thing, it's just more voices, more frequencies that I'm trying very hard to tune out when I'm writing. Of course, I'm going to draw on the work of our progenitors. But if you start thinking about your parents or progenitors as much as your own writing, you'll never write a word. You have to forget about your parents. So in that same way, I try to forget about all of these literary traditions when I'm actually in the process of listening to my characters.
I guess your characters will bring in those experiences you've had in a subtle way, but it's not like you are con-sciously bringing in those experiences in your novel. It's more like through the character.
Exactly. And I largely derived my sense of what constitutes a narrative, what makes language beautiful, all of these things, from all of the reading that I've done over the years. That's where we learn to use language.