TBM: How do you imagine the ideal reader of your book?
IC: My ideal reader likes novels that run against the grain and buck expectations of narrative and characterization, books that are memorable because they get under your skin. This requires a discerning reader.
TBM: How was the writer inside of you born?
IC: Since I was a teenager I have sought out books that were different and strange. Eventually, I wanted to write such books, and I knew I had the life experience and the literary technique and the weirdness to do so.
TBM: What genres do you work with and why are you attracted to these forms of writing?
IC: My books are a mixture of speculative fiction, dystopian satire, psychological thriller, autobiography, and the sheer unclassifiable (think Kafka, Beckett, Hesse), but no paranormal, supernatural or anything that's formulaic and geared to the mass market.
TBM: As a reader, what elements of a story do you love, or do you hate?
IC: I don't like vampires or zombies getting in the way. There are thousands of such books coming out; I don't want to participate in that. I like stories that are the product of a unique imagination--off-center, edgy, disturbing, provocative, willing to shake the reader up. People's battles with their own psyche can be horrifying enough.
TBM: What inspired you to write Lust & Philosophy and what do you hope your readers will take away from this book?
IC: A beautiful and mysterious woman I kept passing by on the street in my neighborhood in Beijing, China. The novel is a systematic exercise in sexual obsession (but neither erotica nor pornography). It will draw in readers who have similar obsessive tendencies. I am obsessed with obsession. Passion, obsession = character.
TBM: How long did it take you to write this book and what did you do the day that you finished it?
IC: About two years. As soon as I finished it I started on my next book. I have too many things to say and I fear not enough time to say everything.
TBM: What would you like to say to your readers?
IC: I invite the reader to set aside preconceived notions and expectations. My books are literary fiction, which by definition is writing that rises above mere formula and convention (the usual vampires and zombies). Style, imagination, obsession infuse every page of my writing. You can't skim my writing; you have to slow down and ease into my crazy universe. But I believe you will find it a sensuous reading experience.
TBM: How would you describe yourself?
IC: An American expat living in China, I'm a pansexual polyamorist literary artist. I can be friendly and charming and cold and distant at the same time. I'm many people in one, a living contradiction. I can't classify myself.
TBM: Every book I write is a visionary exercise in mental liberation and radical self-expression--primarily for my own benefit but hopefully for the reader as well. New ways of thinking are not always comfortable and reassuring. Like a trip to an exotic country, some things are shocking and scary. You may not always enjoy the journey, but it's absolutely memorable.