The genesis for this novel began with Ann Angel, a fellow writer, friend and graduate of my MFA program. She emailed and asked me to contribute to an anthology that she was putting together around the topic of beauty. When I received her email, I immediately recalled the time my aunt asked my sister if she wanted to have the “sang-goh-puh-rhee” surgery. Even back then, when plastic surgery was not as common as it is today, many Asian and Asian American women were getting their eyes done. I had no idea that my eyes looked different except after my aunt pointed it out to my sister. Sure, our eyes were not like our Caucasian friends, but I thought it was about the shape, not some crease on the upper eyelid. Of course, once someone points out what they believe is a deficiency, all your attention focuses on that detail. Who had the folds, who didn’t. I remember one boy had one fold over one eye and the other was just normal. It made him look slightly unbalanced and we used to joke about it with him. He thought it was funny whereas I could see a girl being incredibly self-conscious. My sister never went through with the surgery. I don’t think she even considered it a viable option, but rather more craziness from my kooky aunt.
So originally, THE FOLD, was supposed to be a short story, but I never got around to writing it. By the time I was ready to write, I knew it had to be a novel. This was about Joyce and her beautiful, crazy family. I wanted it to be an over the top story about how we all try and fix ourselves. I also wanted it to be about self-acceptance and love of others. I find that when I am most obsessed with my own needs and wants, if I turn it around and focus on others, I can then find balance within me. It’s important to feel beautiful, but how one achieves that is a very individual process. For some it might take plastic surgery or a visit to the orthodontist or new clothes, but for others, it’s really an issue of finding clarity and peace with who they are as a person. For no matter how much you change the outside, if you are not happy with the inside, then nothing will make it magically better.
I had a great time writing THE FOLD. It is my longest and most traditional novel, which strangely was very challenging for me since I tend to write more spare stuff. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed spending time with Joyce and her loving family.