While on my little blogging hiatus during the end of 2017, I had the opportunity to attend two exciting author events. One of these events happened to be Celeste Ng’s book tour for her most recent release, Little Fires Everywhere.
You may have heard of it? It did win the 2017 Goodreads Choice Awards for best in fiction. I was already excited to pick this one up after hearing Celeste speak & meeting her in person, but I am anticipating it even more with all the positive hype it has been receiving!
I attended this book tour all the way back on September 20, 2017… and yes, I am just now getting around to posting about it. Hiatus remember? Anyways! Like many of the book events I attend, this event was held at the Joseph-Beth Booksellers in Cincinnati, Ohio.
As per usual, I am going to share with you all a few tidbits I learned from Celeste Ng in bullet format. Why? Because I don’t know how else to present all these random facts in a coherent post AND I like to keep these short and sweet.
» Ng is pronounced “ing” (you know, in case you didn’t pick that up from her Twitter handle: @pronounced_ing)
» Celeste grew up in Shaker Heights, Ohio (a suburb of Cleveland) and is where her book Little Fires Everywhere is set. It was a very race conscious community, which was unusual for this time period. The schools even offered race awareness classes & groups.
» She apologized for being a few minutes late, she got distracted by the books in the store. She joked that her family will not go with her into a bookstore unless a predetermined exit time is established before they enter the bookstore.
» Celeste had made her TV debut appearance on Late Night with Seth Meyers the night before. She was so honored to have been asked to be on the show, and really appreciates that Seth features so many diverse authors on the show (woman authors, authors of color, etc.) You can watch a clip of it here → Celeste Ng on Late Night with Seth Meyers.
» This event was the second week into her 4 week Little Fires Everywhere book tour. She was averaging one city per day.
» She is not an outliner, nor does she write in chronological order. For Everything I Never Told You, she wrote the book all out of order, than pieced it together. She tried to write Little Fires Everywhere in chronological order, but it didn’t exactly pan out that way.
» She doesn’t like when things are tied up too neatly in books – that isn’t how life works. She likes to leave space for the reader to pull the threads and come to their own conclusions.
» A member of the audience actually asked her “what is it like being Asian?” I really wish someone had taken a picture of my reaction because my jaw dropped when I heard this. I give Celeste credit, I probably would have responded with something just as ridiculous like “what is it like being white?” but Celeste has much more grace than I do. She responded that she sometimes feels like a “fake Asian” as she grew up here in the U.S. and does not speak Cantonese like people expect from her.
» For Everything I Never Told You, she wanted to explore gender roles & expectations. She has experience in this area as her mother has a PhD in chemistry & a sister who is a mechanical engineer… both very male dominated fields. She thinks a lot about this & finding balance now that she is a professional author, wife, and now mother herself….
On her book, Little Fires Everywhere…
» Set in Shaker Heights Ohio, 1997. Motto of the town: Some communities just happen, but the best are planned. Shaker Heights was meticulously planned out & is very well maintained.
» Explores themes like class, race, & parenthood.
» The book opens to the Richardson family’s house burning down.
» There is a lot of visual arts included in the book. Photography is a hobby that she is starting to explore – her own father had a photography hobby as well.
» Had a rough idea about the story she wanted to tell here, but there were many surprises along the way.
» This book touches on adoption. The scenario is a wealthy white couple adopting a Chinese baby, but later the biological mother wants the baby back – a custody battle ensues. Each set of parents has something different to offer the baby, but which is better or “right”?
Author: Celeste Ng
Genre: Contemporary • Mystery
Publisher: Penguin Press; 1st Edition(September 12, 2017)
In Shaker Heights, a placid, progressive suburb of Cleveland, everything is planned – from the layout of the winding roads, to the colors of the houses, to the successful lives its residents will go on to lead. And no one embodies this spirit more than Elena Richardson, whose guiding principle is playing by the rules. Enter Mia Warren – an enigmatic artist and single mother – who arrives in this idyllic bubble with her teenaged daughter Pearl, and rents a house from the Richardsons. Soon Mia and Pearl become more than tenants: all four Richardson children are drawn to the mother-daughter pair. But Mia carries with her a mysterious past and a disregard for the status quo that threatens to upend this carefully ordered community.
When old family friends of the Richardsons attempt to adopt a Chinese-American baby, a custody battle erupts that dramatically divides the town–and puts Mia and Elena on opposing sides. Suspicious of Mia and her motives, Elena is determined to uncover the secrets in Mia’s past. But her obsession will come at unexpected and devastating costs.
Celeste grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Shaker Heights, Ohio, in a family of scientists. Celeste attended Harvard University and earned an MFA from the University of Michigan (now the Helen Zell Writers’ Program at the University of Michigan), where she won the Hopwood Award. Her fiction and essays have appeared in One Story, TriQuarterly, Bellevue Literary Review, the Kenyon Review Online, and elsewhere, and she is a recipient of the Pushcart Prize.
Currently, she lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Her second novel, Little Fires Everywhere, will be published by Penguin Press in fall 2017.