This interview, by David
Kentner, was Posted on Award-Winning Authors, December 6th
are categorized into “genres” for purposes of
identifying the type of story or subject matter for
readers. Well, that and so librarians and book sellers
know what shelf to put the book on. And there lies the
difficulty with author Alan Chin.
Alan is one of a rare breed who instills literary
artistry into everything he writes. Whether a
historical, romance, or a story told just for the fun
of it, Alan paints vivid images that float our
imaginations into every scene. We hear the ocean’s
waves, feel the breeze on our faces, smell the
airborne brine. And when, as in the stirring novel
“Simple Treasures,” a Shoshone Indian attempts to free
a diseased man’s embittered soul, we share the pain
and beauty of the moment. “Simple Treasures”
exemplifies how a book may be classified as a
‘romance,’ but transcends the obvious and leads the
reader on a journey of life’s magnificence and
devastation amidst the characters’ self-discovery.
Former Navy jet mechanic Alan worked for twenty years
in the field of software engineering. He also obtained
a degree in economics and a Masters in Creative
Writing. After retiring, Alan decided to enjoy his
hobbies of tennis, traveling, and writing. But for
many authors, writing refuses to remain a hobby for
long, and such was the case for Alan. He’s now poised
to see his sixth novel “Daddy’s Money” published, with
the seventh to follow in June 2013.
“Daddy’s Money” is a complex contemporary tale of love
threatened by family secrets. It is the story of
sexual confusion, one man’s need to possess those
around him regardless of the cost, and how what is
right must sometimes be fought for against those we
never viewed as our enemy.
I need to mention “The Lonely War.” In this novel Alan
takes on the military’s former stance of “don’t ask,
don’t tell,” as well as enlisted/officer
relationships, the horrors of a WWII Japanese POW
camp, and the torturous extremes a person will submit
to in order to protect those he loves, even at the
risk of being branded a traitor to his country. This
is a seriously good book.
In all fairness, I’ll admit that not everyone may find
Alan’s subject matter to their liking. However, anyone
who enjoys literary eloquence, masterful storytelling,
and tightly woven plots should definitely give an Alan
Chin book a try.
Q) I have to ask, what inspired you to place “The
Lonely War” in a POW camp and subject the lead
character to such personal extremes?
A) In TLW, my aim was to make a very personal
statement about love relationships between men,
affairs both plutonic and physical. To do that, I
chose to juxtapose plutonic love (Andrew’s
relationship with his commanding officer) with a
passionate, physical love (Andrew’s affair with the
I chose a POW camp because that is one place where the
military rules of behavior are turned on its head.
Like “Brokeback Mountain,” the camp, Changi, was the
one place where Andrew and Mitchell could express and
explore their love for one another. It was also an
environment so brutal that it would also test the
extreme depths of their bond. Andrew swings from one
lover to the other—like a pendulum—days with Mitchel
and nights with Tattori. It is by this comparison,
that I state my views on male love, which is to say, a
rather heroic adoration. This is a story of love,
idealistic, passionate, and also of brotherly love for
comrades caught in a horrific situation.
Q) With writing demanding so much of your time,
how’s the tennis game?
A) A few years ago I stopped playing amateur
tournaments. It wasn’t a matter of time, so much as my
old body slowing down. I simply can’t compete with
these twenty-somethings anymore. These days, I get
together with friends a few times a week for sociable
games of doubles. I still enjoy the game as much as
ever, perhaps more so that I’m no longer so
I must admit, however, writing is a time-suck. No
matter how much time and energy I devote to it, it
always demands more. The better writer I become, the
more difficult it is to write, and the more effort it
takes to be satisfied with my work. I believe that is
a curse for any artist’s life, no matter what the
Q) At some point you made the decision to have your
stories published. What was that deciding factor?
A) Great question. I had three driving reasons for
wanting to be published. The first was because I
wanted to be taken seriously as a writer, and nobody I
know grants unpublished writers any credibility. These
days, even published writers have difficulty
commanding respect from a reading public, let alone
friends and family.
The second reason had to do with a determination for
excellence. You see, if I have no plans for publishing
a manuscript, then I have no need to spend an extra
six months of time and effort refining that story.
Preparing a work for publication forces me that extra
mile (it seems more like a million miles) to not only
improve the manuscript, but also to develop my writing
skills and grow as an artist. At the time, I needed
that motivation to push myself and my work. I still
My last reason to be published was to share my work
with a reading public. I am aware my stories are not
for everyone, and that’s fine. But judging from the
fan mail I have received, my stories have touched
peoples’ lives and they seem to enjoy my work. There
are few things more gratifying to a writer than
knowing you have brought joy into a person’s life,
that you have inflamed peoples’ imaginations.
Q) In your work you tackle deep subjects such as
moving on after loss, dual sexuality, the dangers of
thwarting societal expectations, and many more.
Though your stories explore love, you inspire the
reader to examine the world with a fresh eye. In
other words, you make us think. Why is this so
important to you?
A) Those are very kind words, and I’m grateful. For
me, that is the point in writing. If it’s not
important, if the characters are not struggling with
deep issues that the readers can identify with, then
why write it? That is what art does, it makes us
evaluate our life, our reality, and our dignity as
human beings, and hopefully it shines a light on our
values and goals and moral behavior. It is through art
that we learn to live meaningful lives.
And you hit on exactly why fiction can do this. It
puts the reader (and the writer) in an alien situation
so that they can experience these life concerns from a
different perspective, new eyes. That is the power and
beauty of storytelling.
Q) When the time comes to lay down your pen, how do
you hope your work will be remembered?
A) I’ll be happy if it is remembered. ;) But
seriously, my goal is to tell unforgettable stories
featuring unforgettable characters. If I can do that,
then I will bring pleasure to readers. That is how I
would like my work to be remembered, as a collection
of stories that are a pleasure to read. If they also
inspire readers to question their reality, that’s the
Q) Any parting thoughts for fans and potential new
A) Yes. If you read a book that you really enjoy,
please take the time and effort to email the author
and let them know what you thought of their work.
Nothing encourages writers as much as hearing from an
appreciative reader. We spend many months, sometimes
years, creating work for you to enjoy. So please take
a few minutes to lookup the author’s website and leave
a message. It really means the world to us.
Also, if anyone should care to read more about me or
my work, I have a website http://alanchin.net/ and a
writer’s blog http://alanchinwriter.blogspot.com/
Please look me up.
Kentner is the author of the award-winning novel
Whistle Pass. http://whistlepass.blogspot.com/