Can you sign my book?

The best thing would be for you to contact Women and Children’s First, a bookstore in Chicago. I have a number of signed books there, and they can sell and mail you one.

What’s it like, being mixed race?

It can be really great sometimes, because I have a lot of experiences that others don’t have. For instance, I was raised on eating Chinese chicken feet and pierogies. And I find that I connect with others more easily because I can identify more with their background, whether it’s that of an immigrant or person of color or someone who’s Caucasian and whose family has been here for generations.

But being mixed can be tough sometimes because it’s hard to feel like I fully belong in any group. For instance, when I am with Chinese people, I’m the “white” person, and when I’m with a bunch of white people, I’m the “Chinese” person. Or the exotic person. Either way, I have one foot in both worlds, but sometimes it would be nice to have 2 feet somewhere. When I am with other mixed race people who understand what this is like, that’s really, really cool.

What mix are you?

My dad is from Hong Kong and my mom is from Wisconsin and is of Polish-American descent. So I grew up eating sauerkraut dishes, along with stir fry.

I want to be a writer. Do you have advice for me?

Write from your heart, always. When you write, remember you’re writing from a special space inside, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. And practice telling stories – tell stories all the time. When you’re not telling stories, practice listening to stories. Because that’s all that writing really is: Telling a story.

What are some things you like and dislike?

I like escalators, lukewarm water, hot food, baby plants, mushrooms, lying down on a park bench, kosher pickles, turtles, steaming coffee mugs, stairs, cherry popsicles, deep-fried tofu, gooey pancakes (in the middle), dim sum, arrachara tacos, jalapenos and serranos, playground slides, starry nights, spiders, snakes, bikes, sporks, tire swings, winter air, paper, bright colors, fun socks, wasabi, rocks, white-out correction tape, alligators, origami, cursive*, calligraphy, asparagus, houseplants, water, superglue, duct tape, wind chimes, tobogganing. And laughing.

I dislike cold hands, cold feet, sulfur, cucumbers, dirty water, barren walls, car exhaust, being late, daylight savings time, banana popsicles, non-spicy Indian food, humidity, retching cat sounds, merry go rounds, mosquitoes, sporks, plastic ware.

*If you write me a letter in cursive, I will write you back.

Can I see a picture of your turtle?

Here she is! A red-eared slider, about 20 years old. Her name is Jia-you, which is Chinese for “keep going”, but the name is hard to say and remember, so her second name is Juanita. That’s what most people call her.

Do you really bike on the streets of Chicago?

Sure do! It’s a big responsibility to bike on busy streets, so I always bike carefully. This one guy I know gets hit by a car every summer, but I’ve been biking for ten years and haven’t had an accident. A lot of it is about being careful.