What inspired you to write Good Luck Life?
While growing up in a small town in California’s Central
Valley, I was always confused and curious about the Chinese traditions
and rituals I grew up with. Being Chinese meant I had another
layer of cultural holidays to enjoy and observe, such as the
red envelopes during Chinese New Year, making joong during Dragon
Boat, and gifting moon cakes during the Mid-Autumn Festival.
I wanted to connect the “whys” with the “what” and “how” with
the celebrations of my childhood.
My catalyst was the passing
of my immigrant grandfather in 2001. He was the last of his
generation and I wanted others
to have the
best of two worlds (Chinese and American) which he gave
2) What is your background?
I had an all-American background with cultural brushstrokes.
There were occasional conflicts between my family’s Chinese
New Year’s Eve dinner and the St. Valentine’s Dance,
or a Sunday softball game with Qing Ming, the Clear Brightness
when we visited our ancestor’s gravesites. The Chinese
celebrations always won out in my family. My family was the
only Asian family
in our small town, Riverbank, California, where I attended
elementary and high school.
I’m an advertising/marketing
professional with 20 years of experience. I worked with Saatchi & Saatchi
Communications and Saatchi & Saatchi Advertising for
over a decade upon graduating from San Jose State University’s
School of Journalism and Mass Communications. I’ve
worked in other San Francisco based advertising and marketing
where I managed blue-chip clients.
I must admit that the advertising/marketing skills and contacts
I acquired in my professional life served me very well in
3) What is a good luck life?
As I was writing Good Luck Life, I discovered that the Chinese
rituals and customs fell under three overarching themes:
1) inviting good fortune and happiness, 2) deflecting evil
3) remembering and honoring our elders. With every whole
served at our table, every firecracker I light, every three
bows for my ancestors, it comes down to one of these three
4) What was your writing and development process for the
In 2001, I conceived the idea for Good Luck Life when I
find anything like it in the bookstores.
I interviewed dozens
of Uncle and Auntie Laos (“lao” means “old” in
Cantonese) who invited me into their homes and were willing
to share all their Chinese secrets. Things like why shouldn’t
I wash my hair on Chinese New Year’s Day (because
wash the New Year’s luck away), or why I shouldn’t
visit a Chinese auntie with an armful of white flowers
associated with mourning). They answered every question
and armed me with out-of-print books, clippings and photocopied
They also fed me very well.
The Chinese Historical Society
of America provided facts and figures, and the San Francisco
Public Library – Chinatown
Branch became my second home for book research and writing.
The Chinatown library
has an excellent Asian collection and the reference desk
librarians there are my heroes. They embraced Good Luck
Life as their own.
I was “fortunate” to have
been laid off from my day job not once but three times
in the course of three years. This
is an indication of how the dot-com fallout affected San
advertising community. Between freelance assignments,
I took advantage of the time to focus on building a winning
and getting an agent who could land a dream publisher.
In November 2003, I signed a contract with HarperCollins
Publishers and in
March 2004, I took a leave of absence to write full-time
to complete the manuscript which was submitted in July
for a Chinese New Year’s
5) How did you select the holidays and celebrations
The Chinese holidays I cover in Good Luck Life are the
celebrations I remember my family observing year in and
between the holidays were the special occasions and rituals
with the important rites of passage for a Chinese wedding,
a Red Egg and Ginger party to welcome a new baby, a birthday
banquet, and the inevitable funeral.
6) Who is Auntie Lao?
Auntie Lao is a device I use to represent all
the old wise and wizened aunties who bestowed their
and superstitions upon us. I grew up with many Auntie
Laos and love them dearly.
7) How has writing Good Luck Life impacted you?
I wear more red. Seriously though, writing Good Luck
Life put me in touch with my cultural heritage. It’s given me the
gift of appreciation for where I came from and those who came
It also humbled me for the experience of witnessing and practicing
what it means to be generous in spirit.
8) What would you like your readers to take away
from Good Luck Life?
That a good luck life can be had by any and all
who are interested in the Chinese culture. Every
into a Chinese
restaurant or a Chinese store, you can’t help but be surrounded by it.
The practices are based on an ancient culture but can be easily
adapted in modern society. Besides, who doesn’t need a
little good luck in their lives these days?
9) As a first-time author, what advice can you
lend about getting
Maintain a clear vision, have a thick skin, and
your day job.