Author Spotlight: JC KANG
Joining us for today’s Author Spotlight is JC Kang!
JC Kang’s unhealthy obsession with Fantasy and Sci-Fi began at an early age when his brother introduced him to The Chronicles of Narnia, Star Trek, and Star Wars. As an adult, he combines his geek roots with his professional experiences as a Chinese Medicine doctor, martial arts instructor, and technical writer to pen epic fantasy stories.
Welcome to the Hive, JC. Let’s start small: tell us about a great book you’ve read recently!
I’ve been getting into original-English Xianxia. Will Wight’s Cradle series is without a doubt the gold standard, and I’ve loved it through Book 3; but I recently read Eden Hudson’s Darkening Skies, and it is now my absolute favorite in the subgenre. It’s a little more Epic Fantasy with Xianxia characteristics, but just a wonderful, character-driven read.
Okay, time to escalate things: reality warps and you suddenly find yourself leading a D&D-style party through a monster-infested dungeon. What character class are you, and what’s your weapon of choice?
I’d like to say I’m the 1e Paladin with an 18 charisma, wielding the divine blade of my patron god; but I’m most likely the thief lurking in the background, with my best weapon being my roguish good looks and wit.
When you’re not trawling through dungeons, how do you like to work? (In silence, with music, or serenaded by the damned souls of a thousand dead shrimps? Do you prefer to type or to hand-write? Are you an architect or a gardener? A plotter or a pantser? D’you write in your underwear, or in a deep-sea diver’s suit?) Tell us a little bit about your writing method!
I can only write, and even think about stories, in front of my laptop, ideally with no access to the internet. I’m definitely a pantser—I probably know where the story starts and where it ends, and maybe a few things in the middle, but I very rarely stick to the original idea. I pride my world on the interconnectivity of the various aspects—the galactic neighborhood, local geography, religion, politics, etc; but when a shiny new idea grabs my attention, I will try to stuff it into the existing world building like a wrong-shaped puzzle piece.
Like some kind of jigsaw-hating magpie?
What (or who) are your most significant fantasy influences? Are there any creators whom you dream of working with someday?
This will sound utterly stereotypical, but JRRT for his macro-level worldbuilding; GRRM for the interconnectivity of his micro-level worldbuilding; Margaret Weis for sparking my creativity; Jacqueline Carey and Phil Tucker for every aspect of their storytelling, from the unique world building, compelling characters, twisting plots, and gorgeous prose.
What was the last thing you watched on TV and why did you choose to watch it? Alternatively, what games have you enjoyed recently?
I am currently watching several different series, depending on whom I’m with. Deep Space 9 at the gym (because I was living abroad when it first came out). Handmaiden’s Tale late at night. The Good Place with my family. Designated Survivor with my wife.
The world shifts, and you find yourself with an extra day on your hands during which you’re not allowed to write. How do you choose to spend the day?
There are so many things I want to do, I don’t even know where to begin….
Can you tell us a little something about your current work(s) in progress?
I’m working on two four-book series that chronologically intertwine with the Dragon Songs Saga, with one crossover character in all three series. Crown of the Sundered Empire, book 1 of the third series, comes out in October. It’s a military fantasy that follows the conflict between two races who claim favor of the Sun God, and includes a young fisherman whose glass eye may or may not be by a demon.
At this moment, I’m writing the last instalment of a prequel serial which follows the aforementioned crossover character in her younger years as an assassin embedded in a brothel.
I’m also dabbling with a Xianxia/Cyberpunk/Dystopian mashup.
What’s the most (and/or least) helpful piece of writing advice you’ve ever received?
The piece of advice I hate the most is, “Write what you know.” Half the fun of writing fiction is research, and learning more about topics we might never know about.
Fantasy would certainly be a much more boring genre!
Every writer encounters stumbling blocks, be it a difficult chapter, challenging subject matter or just starting a new project. How do you motivate yourself on days when you don’t want to write?
I just don’t write those days. There’s so much stuff to do in this wide world of ours, and I don’t want to spend it staring at a computer screen when the words aren’t flowing.
If you could visit any country at any point in history, where/when would you go, and why?
Oh, gosh, too many to name, and it would depend on whether I was just a silent observer, or could actually interact with historical figures and/or influence the timeline. I mean, I’m utterly fascinated by societies in transition (Japan’s Warring States and Meiji Restoration Periods, Republican France, end of Imperial China, the American Revolution, etc), but I probably wouldn’t want to have to make a living through the upheaval.
Tell us about a book that’s excellent, but underappreciated or obscure.
Sadly, I’m not a trailblazer in finding obscure books—I’m the kind of person who will read something mostly on recommendation from someone else. If I had to choose any, it would be the recent book, Darkening Skies by Eden Hudson—I have a soft spot in my heart for spunky, marginalized princesses.
Finally, would you be so kind as to dazzle us with an elevator pitch? Why should readers check out your work?
A sprawling, diverse world following characters with conflicting agendas who oftentimes have to work together. Dozens of plot twists that will make you re-evaluate what you read earlier in the story.
Brilliant, thank you so much for joining us today JC!
JC Kang is the author of the DRAGON SONGS SAGA and the LEGENDS OF TIVARA. His latest novel, Crown of the Sundered Empire, is available now.