Tuesday, January 22, 2013
Watering Heaven by Peter Tieryas Liu
What would you do if you found out your girlfriend laid an egg every time she had sex? Who would you be if you were invited to a party in Beijing but had to make up a brand-new identity for six weeks? Peter Tieryas Liu's Watering Heaven is a travelogue of and requiem for the American dream in all its bizarre manifestations and a surreal, fantastic journey through the streets, alleys, and airports of China. Whether it's a monk who uses acupuncture needles to help him fly or a city filled with rats about to be exterminated so that the mayor can win his reelection bid, be prepared to laugh, swoon, and shudder at the answers Liu offers in this provocative debut collection.
I am so glad I read this book. The collection of stories is very unique and definitely keeps readers captivated. With most of the stories I had no clue as to what was going to happen so I was always surprised. I really liked that Peter's work was able to keep me guessing and held my attention. That alone makes an excellent read for me. I would definitely recommend this book for those of you that are looking for something different that will still keep you enthralled!
**I received this book for review but that has in no way effected my opinion.**
Overall Rating: 5 out of 5
Today we have Peter Tieryas Liu (PTL) author of Watering Heaven, on At Random (AR) for an interview.
(AR) Welcome Peter!
(PTL) Thank you! Glad to be here!
(AR) Where did you come up with the ideas for Watering Heaven?
(PTL) Watering Heaven’s individual stories were written over several years. The first published one was “58 Randoms Deaths and Unrequited Love” which I wrote in 2005. The last story I wrote was “Resistance” in 2011. The other stories were written between all of these. So many different things have inspired me, from my travels to China, to a night out on the town with friends in the streets of San Francisco. Let me cite one specific example. The story, “Cold Fusion,” was inspired when I heard about an experiment involving sharks and fish. They were placed together in a tank with only a glass partition separating them. As the sharks would hit the partition, they learned they could not cross over the barrier. Even after it was removed, they never went over to the fish side even though nothing separated them. Something about that image struck a chord for me, especially in regards to the difficulties of relationships. Cross that in with my fascination for cold fusion and the story was born.
(AR) Was any particular story more difficult to write than the others?
(PTL) That’s a great question and I struggled with the answer as all of them were difficult in very different ways. Some stories just wrote themselves whereas others went through hundreds of iterations. I’m going to go with the story of “Resistance” because it was one of my most personal stories and a lot of emotions raged through me as I wrote it. I actually figured out the ending before I wrote the story. Basically, I wanted an ending where you think the main character survives, and then he dies. Of course, my editor wanted that changed as it seemed to come out of nowhere so we went through several iterations and the final ending is one of grim reality mixed with hope. I’m really glad we made that change!
(AR) Are there any authors that have inspired you?
(PTL) Too many. John Steinbeck, Herman Melville, Cao Xueqin, Soren Kierkegaard, Leza Lowitz, William Blake (whose poetry inspired the title), and hundreds of more writers. It’s tough to be a good writer if you aren’t a good reader as well.
(AR) I never thought of it that way!
(AR) Have you always known you wanted to write?
(PTL) Odd to say, but yes, since I was very young. I always loved story-telling, loved books, movies, and games. So I was immensely honored that Signal 8 published my debut collection. I’ve been fortunate to have had a lot of short stories and essays published, but there’s no feeling quite like holding your own book in your hands and sharing it with others.
(AR) Are you currently working on anything now?
(PTL) My first novel was picked up for an option by Signal 8 Press. It’s called The Wingless and it’s a noir tale about a group of Asian-Americans (one a former game developer) hunting down a serial killer in Los Angeles.
(AR) That sounds very interesting Peter.
(AR) Thank you so much for joining us today taking the time to answer our questions.
(PTL) Thank you very much for your time!
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