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The Lives of Tao is one of the newest entries to the growing list of writers writing across multiple genre styles. Roen Tan is your average out-of-shape IT guy working a repetitive job, but his life changes when a millennia old intergalactic intelligence embroil him into an alien civil war taking place on earth. Wesley Chu is the author of this alien meets espionage thriller novel and he has received high praise from many reviewers.
Toonari Post recently got the chance to speak with Wesley Chu and he provided insight into not only his writing process but who he is as a writer. He has a background in martial arts which makes his combat sequences authentic while skills as a former stuntman make action all the more realistic. Our interview answers multiple questions from fans, including when he’ll be doing convention appearances as well as talking about The Death of Tao, the sequel currently in the works.
Toonari Post (TP): Tell readers more about who you are. Where are you from and what are some of your proudest accomplishments.
Wesley Chu (WC): I’m a member of the Screen Actors Guild and a former stuntman specializing in being token Asian dude in underwear commercials, hospital wellness brochures, and getting my butt kicked. When I’m not being said token Asian, I’m busy playing your doctor or computer geek, because those are the really important roles that demand the specific skill sets of the Asian man in film and television. Oh, once I made out with a model on a Santana music video. [In my best Borat voice] High five! They must have miscast me for that one.
Oh yeah, and I wrote a book. My debut novel, The Lives of Tao, published by Angry Robot Books, dropped April 30, 2013. I had a book release party May 4 at NV Penthouse Lounge in Chicago IL.
As for my proudest accomplishment, getting The Lives of Tao published is pretty high up there. I might have to give numero uno to bagging the “yes” on the marriage proposal, but otherwise, this comes in second. And because I’m pretty sure my wife will read this, it’s a completely distant, distant far back second.
(TP): How did you get into writing? What is your primary motivation?
(WC): I think most writers can’t help but write. It was something inherent that I gravitated toward as a kid. I mean, let’s face it; if I could choose my natural talent, it wouldn’t be writing. I’d pick something like punting and have the best job in the world. Yes, the NFL punter is the best job in the entire frigging world. You’re part of a professional football team; that’s cool, right? No one is allowed to hit you, and no one ever expects you to win the game. I mean come on, what could possibly be better than that?
But writing, not incredible leg strength or genius intellect or incredible good looks, was what the muses doled out to me. I wanted to write since I was a little kid and my English Professor father, in typical Asian parenting fashion, told me that my first short story I wrote in second grade “didn’t suck.” And as you know, when an Asian parent says you don’t suck at something, you must be pretty decent at it.
(TP): How did you plan out all of your fight scenes in The Lives of Tao? Was it done storyboard style or were things done organically in your head? How much help was your martial arts back ground for these scenes?
(WC): Martial Arts and experience in stunt work has been a huge help in building realistic fight scenes. Being able to visualize the flow, positioning, and impact of a melee gave me a unique perspective when putting it on paper. And as an added bonus, I was told I described the feel of concussions very well. Hmm… I wonder why.
I choreographed and can re-enact every fight scene in the book. Wait, scratch that. I used to be able to re-enact every fight scene in the book. I’m not quite as limber anymore. One of the fight scenes actually happened in real life. Well, technically, it wasn’t an actual fight. Someone tried to rob me with a knife and then I found some empty wine bottles and tried to rob him. We ended up calling it a draw.
(TP): Did you want Roen to always appear to be the underdog in combat? If so why?
(WC): Definitely not. The Lives of Tao is as much a coming-of-age story as it is about an alien civil war over control of humanity’s evolution. The sequel, The Deaths of Tao, takes place several years later. Without giving too much away, Roen becomes an experienced and rebellious agent. He’s no longer a wide-eyed rookie but a deadly operative with a chip on his shoulder, so the way he approaches fights is much different than he did in The Lives of Tao. But then, no matter how good you are, there’s always someone better (I read that on a cereal box in Taiwan).
Our interview with Wesley Chu continues in Part 2 where we’ll answer tour dates and touch on new characters.
Image credit: Chuforthought.com