Thursday, May 16, 2013

Interview & Giveaway with Wesley Chu author of The Lives of Tao

It's been a while since I've had an interview on the blog, and a good opportunity presented itself so that we could get acquainted with charming debut author Wesley Chu. It's always my goal to have an awesome and worthwhile interview, and I think we accomplished that.

That said, I want to take this moment in time to state my intent to wage war against this Chu character. I forgive him for making a fool out of me with some of his answers, even sidestepping a few of my most insightful questions, but he took it too far when he dared to blaspheme against the almighty god Jack Bauer, my daddy. Here I was rejoicing the future return of this great hero, when Mr. Chu with his clever words alluded to Bauer's human mortality, and diminished badassery. Unacceptable. And he didn't stop there. While last night, much as it pains me and to my repulsiveness, the world conspired to mettle a small token of revenge for this slight, I'm not ready to forgive and forget just yet.

In any case, have a look for yourselves... oh, and don't forget to enter the giveaway at the end of the post; The Lives of Tao was awesome.


Bastard:  Hey Wes, welcome to our house at Bastard Books. Looks like all the begging you did to get invited finally paid off. I hope you don’t come to regret it as you’ve just given me permission to invade your privacy, never a good idea. How are you doing today?

Wesley Chu: I’m good. Fantastic even.

Uh, I was fantastic at the beginning of the interview. By the end, I was far from fugging fantastic. Bastard’s a right bastard when it comes to interviewing!

Bastard:  For the record, can you tell us a bit about yourself? Make sure to state your full name and inform us of the when and where you first got your diapers changed, as well as your favorite color and your favorite song to dance to when you don’t think anyone is watching.

Wesley Chu: Hello all, my name is Wesley Chu, and I’ve never had my diapers changed. You see, when you grow up in the jungles like I did, you don’t wear diapers. After all, predators can follow your scent. Therefore, it’s extraordinarily important to bury the feces right away. Remember kids, one in five children don’t make it to three years old because they don’t bury their poop.

My favorite color is blue. No, yellow! (One geek point if you get the reference)

Bastard:  Budweiser has been my beer of choice for as long as I can remember, but lately I’ve been partial to some Blue Moon with the orange slices. Which is your preferred beer, and don’t you dare tell me you don’t drink, else we can’t be friends any longer. Lie if you have to, some things are just too important to ruin with unwelcomed truths.

Wesley Chu: I think you’re the first human being that actually admits to drinking Budweiser. It tastes like a mixture of armpit sweat and carbonated Robitussin. I used to like beer, being partial to Magic Hat #9, but drinking too much of it ill fits my small bladder lifestyle.

Now, I just drink Scotch neat. My current favorite scotch (changes weekly) is Ardbeg Uigeadail, but I like basically anything peaty that punches you in the face. If someone forces me to drink something else, I’ll drink stuff from Speyside, but I refuse to drink any of the Glens.

Bastard:  You mention on your website that you got into Information Technology for your professional career, what do you actually do within it? Programming, networking, Excel Master, Google Search specialist?  Or is this an elaborate way of calling yourself a gamer? Yes indeed, I’m well aware of all the boasting you’ve been doing around about your elite WoW skillz.

Wesley Chu: I do Middleware design and build for large financial institutions, but let’s talk about the important stuff. World of Warcraft raiding is the best thing one can enroll in for leadership training.

As the former recruiting officer for the #1 end game raiding guild on my server, I had so much power in the palm of my delicate blood elf hands that it was intoxicating, not to mention I was one of the richest guys on the server. I was like the Jared of my server, and no, not the Subway guy, the jewelers. I’ve managed people in real life before, but they’re nowhere as difficult to herd a group of 150 pubescent and not so pubescent guys (and a few girls) hot for epic loots!

Bastard:  As any self-respecting person would do, as soon as I learned you were an actor I IMDB’ed you.  To my surprise you had a role in Fred Claus as the “Banzai Chef”. I’m a very skeptical person, as I’m sure the readers in my blog are too, so I went and gathered proof.  Behold!

I take it you’re the one shouting “Banzai!” Tell us a bit about your experience as an actor, is it a career you’re still pursuing?

Wesley Chu: I am impressed you found this thing. It was a dangerous job. I bled my own blood shooting that cinematic scene. No honestly, I did. I nearly cut Rachel Weisz too. They actually had the hot plate turned on. And no, I didn’t have any teppanyaki training.

Acting is still there on the side, but I’m starting to fill the second class older roles. Meh, it goes with the territory. When I was young, tuned, and limber, I used to chase work. Now, it’s all about the writing. That and I’ve come to the realization that there’s just not that many roles for Asian guys.

We’re pretty much near the bottom of the acting totem pole, relegated to token Asian guy roles. That’s the problem with Asian male roles. Asian women are highly sought after and can play many more roles than us dudes. Hell, even Lucy Liu even got to play Watson sidekick in Elementary. Asian guys, we get to be Sulu, and your doctor telling you that you have cancer, or the guy at Best Buy selling you a phone.

Bastard:  Don’t know how far you went with your gymnastics, but it seems like your dreams of becoming a professional athlete didn’t materialize, at least not yet. I assume you’re still a sports fan though, what are your preferred sports? And what about those Chicago Bulls and how far they’ve gone without Derrick Rose? I sympathize with my Boston Celtics missing Rajon Rondo, but I still won’t forgive Chicago for stealing Tom Thibodeau and Brian Scalabrine from us.

Wesley Chu: Hey, don’t you mention that Derrick !@$@ #%% !%#% piece of !#%!@& @$!%%@ #$^&$%$ that damn !@!%^ *$@! Rose guy. I mean, he’s been !@$#% cleared ^&** since {honk} January to play! Yo DRose, man up and go help your team in the playoffs. Otherwise, the Bulls are aight.

I’m really a Bears fan though, which makes my life even more tragic. I mean !@%% dang draft !#$^@ !(&(^&%^ Long, a 2nd round !@%!$^ (&(^$ in the first? But hey, we’re gonna win it all this year!

Bastard:  I’ve also seen that you call yourself a Kung-Fu Master, so I just know everyone is wondering if you and Jack Bauer got into a slapfight, who do you think would win? Obviously Jack Bauer would win, but I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt. Give us a blow by blow account if necessary.

War has been declared!
Wesley Chu: First of all, that’s a load of BULL! Jack Bauer can’t kick my ass! He’s 47 years old and he’s been in hiding! So that means he’s probably not eating well. Not to mention since he’s keeping a low profile, he’s probably not working out anymore. And if we’re going to size people’s weaknesses, heroin addicts have a higher sensitivity to pain. I would crush him in a fight.

Oh wait, I see what you did there. Very tricky, Bastard. Very tricky. Slap fight eh? We both know Jack Bauer’s hands can only make fists. He is physically unable to touch another human being with an open hand. Jack Bauer does not slap.

Bastard:  Before I became engrossed with my SF&F reading, I was mainly a manga reader and anime watcher. I’ve seen your picture around with the Superman t-shirt, all the talk about WoW gaming, so on that respect as you were growing up, and even now, what has held your interests?

Wesley Chu: I used to play a lot of first person shooters, and then as time went on, I realized that I sucked at them. Sure there were a few I got pretty mediocre at, but my FPS experience usually involves me spawning at the safe zone and getting crushed like a worm 15 seconds later.

So now, I’m all about the Civilizations, the Total Wars, and if I feel the need to be competitive, I play Heroes of Newerth. And before any of you DOTA masters challenge me, I will admit that I pretty much suck at that too. 

However, I will challenge ANYONE to a game of Axis & Allies as long as I get to be Japan.

Bastard:  What’s your tale about your trials and tribulations to get your book published, every author seems to have one? The uncensored version please.

Wesley Chu: I’m gonna cheat a little on this one:

It all started with an expensive email. Wait, let me back track. I’m sure the Great Angry Robots Open submission of 2011 is old news now, but in case you don’t follow their every spoken word (like I do), here’s a quick recap. In March 2011, AR had their first open submission ever. Nearly 1000 people submitted works, 65 were asked for full manuscripts and 24 made it to the editors’ desk. Out of those 24, 5 received offers. The End.

Back to the expensive email. In December of 2011, my wife and I were vacationing in Bora Bora, which while a fantastically beautiful place, had perfected the fine art of legalized racketeering. Yes it’s a very small island in the middle of the ocean. We get it. But $24 for a 6oz bottle of bug spray? Yeah, you suck, Mr. Convenience Store Owner. Don’t even ask what sunblock was going for. I could have bought 6oz of plutonium for less. So after a week being disconnected from the internet, we finally caved and bought access for a whopping $40 a day.

My wife and I were watching “The Bounty” starring Mel Gibson (ironically, the movie was filmed on the island – no wonder it came so highly recommended) when an email popped in from a certain Mr. Lee Harris expressing interest in publishing The Lives of Tao. I did what anyone wearing a bathrobe in an over-water bungalow would do in that situation. I ran around the room in circles about nine times whooping and making a fool of myself, and then I jumped into the ocean.

Then when I got home, I bought a bottle of scotch which I was supposed to save for the actual signing. My friends got into most of it during my New Year’s Party (/shakes fist at said friends). The rest I shared with my bestie literary friend Laura Lam (of Pantomime fame) over Skype when the contract appeared in my inbox. It was 6AM in the morning. Friendly tip folks; scotch and toothpaste make a foul combination.

(Co-opted from my original signing post)

Bastard:  The Lives of Tao is your extremely fun debut novel, one that I would describe as the bastard child of NBC’s Chuck and, as you mentioned in the novel, the Invasion of the Body Snatchers film. Share with those who haven’t read it yet a bit about the novel and advise them on why The Lives of Tao should be in their next shopping basket.

Chuck being badass
Wesley Chu: The Lives of Tao is a modern day science fiction about an alien that inhabits an overweight loser and convinces him to fight in a civil war over humanity’s evolution. The alien, Tao, with his millions of years of wisdom and experience, has a slight problem. He can only talk to Roen, the overweight and highly unmotivated loser, but can’t control him. So now, the two must learn to work together as Roen loses weight, learns how to throw a stiff jab, find love, and stay alive as Tao’s powerful enemies hunt them down.

Oh, and some guy on the internet said that it’s an extremely fun debut, and a bastard child of Chuck and Invasion of the Body Snatchers.

Bastard:  What is a Quasing and what is the name of yours? What do you make of the voices inside my head? Maybe I’m destined for greatness.

Wesley Chu: My Quasing’s name is Eva, which incidentally is the name of my dog. See, that’s how my Quasing got me. Eva spiked my brain and convinced me to get a dog and call her Eva. It’s really confusing.

And since I’m always with my dog, and think my dog’s talking to me, my brain has no issues dealing with this alien in my head. Got it? Of course, for some reason, Eva the dog and the Quasing both sound like Marge Simpson.

Bastard:  Considering that you were born in Taiwan, and without getting into its tricky relationship with mainland China, The Lives of Tao integrated plenty of Chinese history, mythology, and folklore into its narrative. How much did your country of origin and your family’s culture influence how you went about writing your novel? In other words, how the heck did a typical fat loser white American end up being named Roen Tan? Maybe because of his English or German heritage?

Wesley Chu: Ahh…but is he white? Let me put it this way. I purposely named him Roen Tan and did not describe his ethnicity or physical features too closely for two reasons. I wanted him to be the common man blank enough so that any reader can think to themselves “man, I could be this Roen guy.”

Also, in my opinion, far too often minority roles are written with stereotypes in mind. That’s why people assume leads are white. Sure there have been lead roles that utilize Latinos, African Americans, and other minorities, but how many books and movies have written lead Asian males without minority stereotypes in mind? I wanted to address that.
So, what you're saying is that Seth Rogen still has a chance...

Bastard:  The Lives of Tao was recently released, as a rookie author you’re in the unique position to divulge some trade secrets. What kind of hazing have you had to endure from fellow veteran authors? It’s quite all right, you’re in a safe environment. And so far, how has your early publishing life been treating you, as expected?

Not Jack Bauer
Wesley Chu: Well, there was this one night at Immortal Confusion when Myke Cole started handing out tequila shots like candy. Now, I would tell you what happened next if I remembered, but I believe Diana Rowland, who is an ex-cop, had to save my life at one point.

But honestly, I love the writing community. When my non-writing friends ask me what it’s like going to all these SFF conventions, I tell them I feel like the hobbit coming back to the shire. It’s the strangest and most unique feeling when a guy finally finds a place he belongs.

Psst…Myke Cole is Jack Bauer.

Bastard:  While we’re at it, does this series have a name? What can you share with us about the future of this series and the sequel you’re currently working on? Any other projects or is writing this series holding your full focus at the moment?

Wesley Chu: Due to the great early reception for The Lives of Tao, the Angry Robot overlords have green lit The Deaths of Tao and moved it up to Oct 29, 2013. Fans of the first book can expect something a little different in Deaths. After all, it is five years later and the Quasing civil war has put Roen through the ringer. He’s a little older and a lot more pissed off. Oh yeah, and things aren’t looking too rosy.

As for a series name…um… let me get back to you on that.

Bastard:  At the risk of a copy/paste answer, what novels and authors have had the biggest influence in your writing and life? Any recent novels you've read you’d like to recommend?

Wesley Chu: I’m gonna cheat again and just talk about an upcoming novel dropping in August. I have the arc for Jay Posey’s Three at the moment. It’s a gritty dystopian about a guy trying to help a woman and her son from a slew of baddies, both human, kinda human, and some straight up weird bad shit.

Now, Jay works for Red Storm Entertainment, and he’s one of the guys who brought us Rainbow Six and Ghost Recon. The first thing I felt about reading Three was how visceral the book is. I felt like I was right there in his clusterphobic world, and I’ll be honest, it’s not a nice place to be for someone of my low pain threshold.

Keep an eye on for Three; it’s going to make a good splash.

Bastard:  Well off you go, I’m sure you have other places to invade. I’d like to say it was a pleasure… well, it actually was. Thanks for stopping by, hope to see you around. Good luck with The Lives of Tao, and any future projects you get involved in. Any parting shots?

Wesley Chu: Thanks much. You’re not as bad as they all said you were, even if you are a Boston fan. By the way, how did your guys doing in the playoffs? Oh, oops. =) It’s okay. I’m sure my Bulls will be joining you soon.

They sure did, Nostradamus. In the interest of not being an ungrateful host, I'll call for a temporary truce for the rest of the day.

All kidding aside, thanks to Wesley Chu for stopping by, much appreciated. The Lives of Tao was a really good read, so go buy yourself a copy as soon as you can. It's extremely fun. Or, you can try your luck and see if you can win a copy in the following giveaway (if you're honest, this is probably why you came here in the first place).

For more information on Wesley Chu you can visit his website and follow him on Twitter @wes_chu.

Participants have to be 18 years of age or older to participate. Void where prohibited by law. Giveaway rules are subject to change. 

Giveaway will be for 1 physical copy of The Lives of Tao by Wesley Chu provided by Angry Robot.

The giveaway is open to US and CANADA shipping addresses only, and it will run from May 16, 2013 until 11:59 pm ET on May 31, 2013.

How to participate:
  • To participate simply log-in into to the Rafflecopter and "Enter" through the easy entry.
  • One entry per person, or face disqualification.
  • Entries accepted until 11:59pm ET on May 31, 2013.
  • There'll be 1 winner only for one physical copy of The Lives of Tao.
  • Will have to confirm email to be considered a winner within 48 hours.
  • Additional entries may be had by following the steps provided in the Rafflecopter instructions, and only by doing those steps. 
  • Winners will be chosen by random selection using the Rafflecopter.
Good luck everyone! You can follow...

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. However, I will challenge ANYONE to a game of Axis & Allies as long as I get to be Japan.

    Problem with A&A is, unless they fixed it, the entire game hinges on one conflict and even more so, one conflict in that battle. It reduces my interest.

    Now a Civ V game, Wes? That I am always up for.

    1. I think last one I played was Civilization II...

    2. I consider Civ IV with its two expansions to be the definitive Civilization Game.

  2. This is the best interview of Wesley's that I've read so far. Great job Wes and B. :)


    1. Thanks Mihir, but if this is the only interview you've read it doesn't count... or does it?

  3. Ah, another peaty man. My man would agree on the whiskey of choice. Me, I would simply give you that horrible peaty punched in the face look after having a sip.

    Great interview.

  4. Very entertaining interview. Made me more eager to read TLOT. Then Mr. Chu went and messed with Jack Bauer AND said Myke Cole is Jack Bauer. Now I'm on the fence... :p

    1. Don't let an author's shameful behavior dissuade you from good reading.

      That said, the transgression was quite egregious. Keep pondering away...

  5. Awesome interview and great book. Can't wait for Deaths of Tao. Really really impressed you found that clip too. Kinda blows my interview out of the water (which I just got back), do to the questions not the answers (which are really really great).

  6. I have to say that is the best gawd dammed interview I've read yet! Yeah I had to go tinkle to avoid losing bladder control. I'm reading it now - WTF more entries you need on this *goes to pimp you and the Chu out on twitter* Ok back. So burying your poop...definitely a necessity. There need to be more lead asian roles - those men be SEXY - well ok Pretty...Chu I'm sorry - you're just too pretty they don't know if they should stick you in the female role or the male role. Yeah that's the hap.

    My undead mage would pwn your Blood Elf! *well ok maybe a few years ago it would I stay fars fars away from the wowcrack. I don't want to become a shut-in again. Least I never ended up looking like Cartman.

    The clip - rad-sauce all over the place =P

    1. Saw you began reading THE LIVES OF TAO, hope you enjoy.

  7. ....pretty?!

    Come on, now...

    I was a max geared paladin with limitless mana. You wouldn't be able to kill me. (Yes, I wouldn't be able to kill you either, at least for the first hour)

    And I'm down for a Civ V throwdown.

  8. Great interview and a great book.

  9. Love it. And love the clip from Fred Claus :-D

  10. I can understand the change from fantastic by the end of the interview. LOL!! And Budweiser Bastard? Really? I went through a stage where I had to be a tough bitch and drank that stuff, but no more. I've moved on to my buddy the Captain. ;P LOL!

    Great fun interview guys.

    1. Bunch of snobs. And you've given yourself away, I've talked about Budweiser in just about all my interviews, and this is when you notice? Your motives are suspect!

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