I lived in New York City for over fourteen years and have worked there for over twenty-five years (wow I’m old). So it was only natural for me to set my debut, THE TIGER MOM’S TALE, in Manhattan. But I was born in Taiwan and knew I wanted to portray my homeland, so I had my MC, Lexa, travel back to Taiwan to claim her heritage.
The Upper East Side of Manhattan, where much of TIGER MOM is set, is as familiar to me as the back of my hand. But I hadn’t been to Taiwan in over sixteen years, and then only for a short visit. So to do it justice, I decided I had to go for research purposes. My husband and son, who have never been there and had not met my immense Taiwanese family yet, came with me as a combined work/family trip.
My husband asked what I had planned for the trip – outings, sightseeing, temples, museums? I said no. All we’re going to do is eat. He didn’t believe me. Oh, was he in for a surprise.
For me, the best part of Taiwan is the food. There is food literally EVERYWHERE. I dream about the street food. I dream about Taiwanese food that you can’t get anywhere else. I dream about the night markets. And after just one day there, my husband got it. All we do in Taiwan is eat.
Many of the places and food we saw made it into my debut. We went to the Feng Jia Night Market and there is a whole chapter devoted to the food we ate.
There was stinky tofu.
And vats of fishballs.
And Taiwanese shaved ice,
And giant glasses of bubble tea,
And sesame balls. Oh, those sesame balls. They actually open the book; sesame balls are mentioned in the the very first line of my debut. My publisher, Berkley, even managed to get sesame balls into my cover.
We visited my old elementary school,
a traditional Chinese medicine shop,
and the Confucius statue in Taichung Park, which all made it into my novel.
But back to the food. You’ve never had corn on the cob like the roast corn on a stick at a Taiwanese night market. I know the picture below is a bit, um…suggestive, but get your mind out of the gutter. We’re talking about the best damn street food ever.
I can go on and on about the food there but it’s making me so hungry and missing Taiwan right now that I’ll stop. Somehow, my post about the world of my novel has turned into an ode to Taiwanese food. When my book finally comes out in July of 2021, you’ll read about everything I posted today in the book.
Oh, and my cover and buy links will be out next week! I am so excited to finally be able to share this book with you all. Stay tuned for my cover reveal happening right here next Wed, Oct 7!