I started writing in October 1986 while I was still on active duty in the U.S. Army. The reason I started is because I'd been ordered back from Korea and was now a recruiter in Oakland, California and I felt that the life that I and others had lived in Asia had never been properly documented. I wrote short stories mainly and received more rejection slips than I can remember. I also started writing novels which were also roundly rejected. My first published fiction was in June of 1991 in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine. I still write for them. There was a story of mine, about a retired Army First Sergeant, called "Beehive Round" that recently appeared in the September 2012 issue.
--> Have you ever thrown away a book that you just couldn't make work?
I've thrown four books away at least. That's how many I wrote before Jade Lady Burning (the 5th) was published in 1992.
--> Is it still exciting to publish a new book even after all this time?
It's still exciting to publish a new book.
--> If you could have written any single work – novel, screenplay, stage play, poem, history, biography – that you most admire and adore, what would it be?
There are many books/stories I greatly admire. Topping the list is "To Build a Fire" by Jack London. I was forced to read it in English class in the 10th grade and while the teacher was watching us to make sure we didn't goof off, I was transported to the Yukon where I was thrown into a struggle for my life in 30-degree-below weather. Did this inspire me to write? It had the opposite effect. The story was so great that I could hardly believe it had been written by a human being and thus, I was afraid to try.
As far as any work I wish I had written, I believe that the stories that I can write come from me, and from deep within me. Only I can write them. Similarly, I would never be able to write someone else's stories, no matter how much I admire them.
--> Anything you’ve always wanted to be asked about your writing but no one ever has?
One thing I wish I'd been asked is, when I sign a book, can I sign it in something other than English? Actually, I can. I can write my name in English, Korean, or Chinese. On the recent book tour for THE JOY BRIGADE it suddenly dawned on me to offer people that option. Many of them took me up on it.
Cheers to the Seattle Mystery Bookshop!