I want to talk about that family dinner scene in "The Guy From The Internet". Although it was an awkward experience for Holly, I found it one of the most natural scenes to write. The Chee family's energy, their dialogue, the little bubbles of chaos that pop every now and then — all of it felt very real to me, even though I was just sitting at my computer, probably eating some very non-Asian snacks.
This book isn't based on a true story, nor are the characters based on real people, but I loved getting to draw from real qualities in people I know. A couple of characters' quirky turns of phrases and exchanges — like "Dad" Chee telling Alain to excuse him because he's talking to "his daughter" — are things I've certainly heard around my family's dinner table, and around the tables of other families I've had the pleasure of joining for dinner.
When I started writing this novella, I didn't mean for it to be culturally infused family drama in addition to a romance. I didn't think anyone in my readership would care about the weirdness that is the Southeast Asian language and culture.
But after a while, I realised it's the sharing of culture that makes it less "weird", and that I still love it even if my friends may never understand it. Then, it became really important to me to let the quirks shine through in Holly's family.
Now that the book is out, a small part of me wishes I could have shared a little more. Maybe showed some of Candace's love-and-friction dynamic with "Ma" Chee, or more of Alain's relationship with his sisters. I would have liked to have dug into Florian's background a little more, and explored how Jedda's relationship with both sides of her family led to her and Holly becoming friends.
Well, shoulda, woulda, coulda, as they say around here. "The Guy From The Internet" is a lean little romance, and I hope you like it.