Archive for the ‘Forever Laowai’ Tag

Interview with Michael Faris   1 comment

Today’s interview is with Michael Faris, author of the Forever Laowai series, which are non-fiction, sort of autobiographical set in China. (correct me if my understanding is wrong).
— Tell us something about yourself.
I grew up in and around Dallas, Texas.  I’ve also lived in Germany and South Korea.  I spent nine years in the Army as a Medic and have been in IT ever since.
— You live in China, which what got my attention. Since I don’t live the typical American lifestyle (I live in Alaska), I am fascinated by people who choose to live in cultures that don’t reflect the typical American burb life. So, how did you come to live in China?
When I was young, China was still closed off from the rest of the world.  My parents had a subscription to National Geographic.  I remember an issue about China and seeing the multicolored neon signage of red, green, yellow and blue, with all the fancy characters glowing on the streets.  I thought it was fascinating.  But as with most children, I soon forgot about it.About 5 years ago, the company I worked for sent me to Hong Kong and Singapore for an upgrade.  Those images came rushing back and instantly, I fell in love again.I started to travel in the various locations in the Far East.  Taiwan, Japan, Hong Kong.  I started a blog about my travels.  I started learning Chinese.  Everywhere I went, everyone was so kind and the culture so interesting. I made my first trip to the Mainland a few years ago and started writing about it just as I did all my other trips.  I wanted more of the experience and so I relocated to Beijing and began to write about my travels and experiences around China.

You have traveled extensively inside China. What drives that?
China is a vast land, full of so much history and culture that is fascinating to me.  China is the last of the original civilizations to still exist in its entirety.  Each and every place I visit has something significant in the history of China and the Chinese.  Thanks to my wife, she always has some very interesting story behind the places we visit.  It always renews my lust for learning more.
Tell us about your experiences in China.
I don’t want to label certain habits or ideals to the Chinese as a whole.  I have seen and experienced many different things while living here.  One thing I have seen, although it’s changing for the better, doing things for leisure, hobbies, for example, are rare.  To paint a painting for the sake of the enjoyment in the art, is still considered frivolous as it has no gain to it.  “Why would you paint if you do not intend to sell the paintings?” was one question a husband asked his wife.  Like I said, it’s getting better.
They are very efficient people.  My former housekeeper would save the water she used to wash clothes in, (yes, by hand) and the use that water to mop the floor.  I would have never had thought to do something like that.  They reuse everything from plastic shopping bags to empty water bottles.  Not recycle, they keep them and make use of them.
My wife always cooks fresh food.  She insists on buying everything at the local market, vegetables, fruits, meats, etc and cooks everything herself.  The Chinese are not big fans of processed food.  Saying that, the biggest selling item at McDonald’s in China is French Fries.  They eat them by the ton.
What does “laowai” mean and why did you choose it as the title for your series?
Laowai means “foreigner”  No matter how long I live in China, I will always be a laowai.  China is not an immigration state and therefore to be a Chinese citizen, you must be born here.
Tell us about the books. Are they stand alone or linked? Are there fictional aspects to them? What is the takeaway message you want readers to get?
The Laowai Series are one continuous story.  When I started writing, I had intended for just one book.  When it grew more than 110k words, and I wasn’t finished, I decided to break it up into volumes.
The series follows me through a 3-year journey, sometimes written in day-to-day activities.  I wanted to be able to take the reader along with me.  What did I do?  What did I see?  Whom did I meet along the way?  It has my real life so don’t be shocked when you read about making love on a train.  It is written with subtle overtones, but you know what is taking place.
I hope to leave the reader with a sense that they went somewhere completely different from what their world consists, yet to understand a little more about the real China and that we are all on this earth together and we can all learn to live together with kindness and peace.
What are your future literary plans? You have a fourth book planned. When are we likely to see it?
I am currently writing the fourth volume to the series.  I have a couple of ideas for some fiction, but my wife and I want to write about something different in China.  I didn’t believe in ghosts until I came here. So maybe something in that realm.
Anything else you would like to talk about?
I am no English major, I try to tell a story as it happened to me.  I was told that my books are an easy read and one lady finished the first volume in two days and enjoyed it very much.  I write for me.  If I can share it with others and make a few bucks that’s great.  It won’t stop my desire to keep writing.
To find Michael’s fascinating books and get a one-to-one view of a culture that remains mysterious to many of us, check out these links.

Stay Tuned for Writing Wednesday   Leave a comment

dad3b-l114087125281280x9602529This week’s interview is with Michael Faris, non-fiction author of Forever Laowai, who lives in China.

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