Lloyd please tell us about your book, The Concubine Saga.
The Concubine Saga is based on a true story. Soon after arriving in China in 1854, Robert Hart (1835 - 1911) falls in love with Ayaou, a young Chinese concubine, but his feelings for her sister go against the teachings of his Christian upbringing and almost break him emotionally. To survive he must learn how to live and think like the Chinese and soon finds himself thrust into the Opium Wars and the Taiping Rebellion, the bloodiest rebellion in human history, where he makes enemies of men such as the American soldier of fortune known as the Devil Soldier.
Were there any challenges researching for your story?
Only in China. To reach China requires a twelve hour (or longer) flight and since China is almost as large as the US getting around means long train trips or airplane flights. In addition, finding material was not always easy as some of it from the Cultural Revolution was restricted.
What interest you the most about Robert's life in China?
His relationship with his Ayaou, his concubine. Since Hart burned about 7 1/2 years worth of his own journals that covered the ten years he lived with Ayaou and she is seldom mentioned elsewhere this was what I wanted to bring to life. Few Westerners in China were capable of bridging the cultural gap as Robert Hart did and it was his relationship with Ayaou that made it possible.
What is the most surprising thing you learned about the Chinese culture?
The degree of effort a child will go to show piety for his or her parents and elders. In America we worship youth and as we age the culture tends to want the older people to not be seen or heard while making sure young people get what they want, but in China the exact opposite is usually the case.
Who or what inspired you to become an author?
Ray Bradbury, who recently died, gave a talk in 1968 at the college I was attending. After that event, I knew what I wanted to do and I started writing and haven't stopped yet.
What is your greatest strength as a writer?
If I have strength as a writer, it must come from the number of years I dedicated to the craft. My BA is in journalism, I have an MFA in writing and I attended writing workshops once a week out of UCLA's extension writing program for about seven years so I will say discipline and perseverance to not give up on my writing goals no matter what obstacles get in the way.
What is your next book project?
"Running With the Enemy", another love story, which is set in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War while President Johnson still lives in the White House. Blamed for a crime he did not commit while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. In “Running With the Enemy”, Ethan Card is a loyal US. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again, and the woman he loves was trained to kill Americans.
What is your favorite quote?
My favorite quote comes from a poem titled "The Face in the Glass" by Dale Wimbrow (1895 - 1954).
When you get what you want in your struggle for self
And the world makes you king for a day,
Just go to a mirror and look at yourself
And see what that face has to say...
You may fool the whole world down the pathway of years
And get pats on the back as you pass,
But your final reward will be heartache and tears
If you’ve cheated the face in the glass.
What advice would you give to an aspiring author?
An aspiring author should educate him or herself about the craft of writing and learn as much as possible about the publishing industry and how to promote his or her work using the Internet. In the last few years, publishing has changed dramatically with the advent of the e-book and print on demand publishing (POD). Opportunities to find an audience for one's work that did not exist a few years ago, have sprouted as if they were a forest.
The aspiring author must avoid becoming the tree in the forest no one sees or hears.
Lloyd Lofthouse is the author of My Splendid Concubine and Our Hart [combined in this single volume], which earned honorable mentions in general fiction at the 2008 London Book Festival, 2009 San Francisco Book Festival, 2009 Hollywood Book Festival, 2009 Los Angeles Book Festival, 2009 Nashville Book Festival and was a finalist in historical fiction for the National Best Books 2010 Awards. Lloyd Lofthouse grew up in Southern California, served in the Vietnam War as a U.S. Marine and lives near San Francisco with his wife and family with a
second home in Shanghai, China.
Thank you Lloyd for this wonderful interview and for Virtual Author Book Tours for including me in this fantastic tour.