The following is an auto-generated transcript of the Brazn Azn podcast Episode 2. It also includes affiliate links that do not affect the price you pay, but allows me to recoup some of our costs. Please excuse any mistakes or misspellings as we do not have the time nor bandwidth to edit.

Show Notes

In this episode of the Brazn Azn podcast, hosts Stella and Virginia delve into the intricacies of promoting and sharing personal art, and exploring Virginia’s debut novel, ‘Illusive.’ The conversation covers a broad range of topics including the vulnerability in self-promotion, the challenges of dealing with stereotypes, and the journey from concept to self-publishing. Through candid and heartfelt discussion, the show navigates the complexities of Asian American identity, personal aspirations, and the nuanced reality of becoming a published author.

  •  Diving into Virginia’s Debut Novel: Illusive
  •  Exploring the Themes and Characters of Illusive
  •  The Struggle with Self-Promotion and Stereotypes
  •  The Complex Feelings of Sharing Personal Work
  •  The Journey of Self-Publishing vs. Traditional Publishing
  •  Diving Into Pop Culture and Fiction
  •  The Art of Extended Metaphors in Writing
  •  Exploring Fiction’s Power to Address Unspoken Themes
  •  The Challenges and Vulnerabilities of Promoting Fiction
  •  Navigating the Complexities of Asian American Identity Through Fiction
  •  Seeking Validation and Success in the Literary World
  •  The Brazen Journey of Self-Publishing and Personal Growth
  •  Concluding Thoughts on Aspirations and Inspirations

Listen to Brazn Azn Ep 02


[00:00:00] Stella: Hello Brazn N8n! This is the Brazn Azn Podcast and I’m your co host Stella.

[00:00:05] Virginia: And I’m your other co host, Virginia Duan. I’m also known as Mandarin Mama, and I’m the entertainment editor for Mochi Magazine, which is the longest running online Asian American women’s magazine. Also, I’m a newly debuted author. I have a novel Illusive. it’s, you can the ebook and paperback versions on Amazon.

[00:00:32] Stella: And actually on that note, today we’re going to talk about Virginia’s very complicated feelings about her debut novel, Illusive.

[00:00:40] Virginia: last week we spoke about Stella’s complicated feelings about being labeled Asian. So Turnabout is fair play, I guess.

[00:00:49] Stella: I’m so excited to talk to you about Illusive. I’ve been watching you work on this novel for some years now, and you’ve put so much into it. So I’m very jazzed to talk about this today, but I guess today we won’t be talking about the novel itself so much as we are going to be about promoting it and like what you’re going through.

But just to get all of our Brazn N8n the same page, I wanted to read the back cover copy just so that everyone can know what the novel is about. Illusive is a spicy behind the scenes story set in the K pop industry. When pop singer Katie Wu returns to Seoul after escaping an abusive relationship, her long time friends, Rapper Jung Do won and singer Kita Hara Akihiro are stunned by just how much she’s changed. Her scars run deep, but even Katy is surprised by how often her trauma resurfaces, threatening her attempts to make music and find love again.

At least this time, she isn’t suffering alone in secret. Akihiro’s determined to prove to Katy that he’s nothing like her ex, while his bandmate Do won is. Buries his emotions, focusing on his music instead. How will Katie overcome her dark memories and create a brighter future? Take a peek behind the glamour of the K pop industry and join Katie as she fights to rebuild her life in the witty and steamy Illusive, part of the Her Multiverse series.

[00:02:15] Virginia: Wow. When you read it all out like that, I don’t know whether I love this book and I’m glad it’s out or I want to do like a full body cringe.

[00:02:26] Stella: Well, I love this book. I love it. And this full body cringe is exactly what we’re going to talk about today.

[00:02:33] Virginia: Yay.

[00:02:34] Stella: So, do you want to expand a little bit, Virginia, on like what’s causing this cringe?

[00:02:40] Virginia: I think part of it is that I am very bad at self promotion and I hate saying that because it sounds so stereotypically Asian and stereotypically woman and like double stereotypically Asian woman, because I feel like I don’t have a problem promoting myself as a person, but I have a hard time promoting the things that I make. So this isn’t my first book that I’ve published. I’ve, I’ve like, I want to say six or seven years ago, I published a book on how to teach your kids Chinese called, So You Want Your Kid to Learn Chinese. And You know, I think I promoted it at once and then never thought about it again. I hated asking people to buy it.

I don’t talk about it very often. And I was actually really proud. Cause it was number one and trending in that category and I still get royalties off of it, but I

never talk about it, but I never talk about it and that’s how I feel about this book. So I feel cringy because I’m like, Hey, people, I wrote a book about people that are not me. It’s fiction. It’s set in Korea, which I am not Korean. It’s set in the music industry. I am obviously not in the music industry. There’s

[00:04:04] Stella: that’s why it’s called fiction. There is sex in it.

[00:04:08] Virginia: There is sex in it, which I am familiar with because I have five children. But all that means is that we very accurately had sex five times and You know We laugh but it is mostly true So my goal with this book is to promote promote promote it until everyone is sick of it Even though I’m pretty sure people aren’t sick of it.

It’s just all in my head So that’s kind of

[00:04:33] Stella: in your head. We aren’t sick of it.

[00:04:37] Virginia: I literally feel like I’ve spoken about nothing else for the last two months But still people are like, oh, I didn’t know you put out a book. I was like, yeah. Yeah, I did

[00:04:47] Stella: Buy it, please!

[00:04:49] Virginia: Right? And

[00:04:50] Stella: hard.

[00:04:51] Virginia: it is. And the thing is, it’s so stupid, too, because when my friends publish books, and I’ve had a lot of friends publish traditionally published books or even self published independent books, I’ve totally been proud of them and I have bought their books. So if anything, Why wouldn’t they buy mine? Why wouldn’t they support me? Like you know, if we were just purely transactional people, it’s like quid pro quo, right? Like I bought your stuff, you should buy my stuff. In fact, I’ve bought years worth of your stuff. You should buy years worth of my stuff.

But that’s not how I want to be in friendships. And also in my head, it’s like, well, of course I supported my friends because I love them, but I don’t know if people love me that much to spend 9. 99 on an ebook or. 14. 99 on a paperback, especially if it’s about K pop or Asian people and, and then there’s sex in it, you know, and I’m just like, ah! So I haven’t even told my mother. I block her on any posts that I post about this book, I block her.

[00:05:51] Stella: Does she know about Your book about how to teach your kids to read Chinese.

[00:05:57] Virginia: Yeah, she does, but I don’t think she really acknowledges, you know what I mean? Like it means nothing to her because I’ve never mentioned anything about it to her. She’s always just like, oh, you did that? And I was like, yeah, she’s like, huh. Yeah, let’s change the subject about to anything else, literally

anything else.

[00:06:15] Stella: It’s, so funny because I think if we were to ask your friends, Oh, do you think Virginia would be uncomfortable with promoting herself? I think a lot of us would say, No, why would she feel uncomfortable about it? Like, she, this is so great. She’s worked so hard and. We’re so, and we’re so proud of her.

And also, like you said, you are not shy about the ways in which you do enjoy yourself. You’re not shy about being glad that you are a wonderful person.

And so it is kind of weird to see you like freaking out a little over this.

[00:06:51] Virginia: it is.

And I, and I hate it because one, I don’t like freaking out two, I feel really cliche and I try to avoid being cliche unless if it’s ironic and this is very unironically cliche.

[00:07:03] Stella: I think there’s something really vulnerable about creating something and asking other people to support it.

[00:07:11] Virginia: Yeah. And it’s it’s, it’s funny, the kind of lies that sneak in, right? So on any given day, I feel like. I know I’m a good writer and not just good. I think I’m a great writer. And yet, and yet, you know, this talking about this book, I’m like, Oh my God, what, what if this book is actually terrible? What if everyone who has told me it’s good is lying to me because They’re my friends or because I’ve paid them and in order for me to continue paying them They have to keep me happy so so then if you follow that logic The only way I would believe that this book is good is if someone who this book is totally not for so let’s say like a really old white man Maga person right like like the complete antithesis of everything that I love. The only way that I would think that maybe someone’s not lying to me is literally the last person on earth who would like this book likes this book. So basically I’ve set myself for complete failure because there’s no way that person will like this book. So it’s so dumb. But, but anyone who likes it, I have a way to explain away.

why they like it,


It’s, it’s so stupid,

[00:08:33] Stella: Like you’re sabotaging yourself.

[00:08:36] Virginia: right. So my main goal with this book isn’t actually just to publish it, but to keep talking about it. And to keep pretending I’m proud of it. I mean, I am proud of it, but practice being proud of it in public until it feels less uncomfortable.

So here I am practicing. Yay.

[00:08:59] Stella: Yay. I think. I think a lot of people share that complicated feeling, and weirdly enough for me, it also extends to my kids. I feel so, right, like, I feel so proud of them, and I’m so delighted by them, but I also feel weird being very public about it, and I’m not, like, maybe it’s Asian, maybe it’s because I’m a woman, yeah.

And a part of it, I tell people. It’s because if you’re too happy, the gods will punish you.

[00:09:31] Virginia: Yes, we have talked about this before offline. Yes, it is totally hubris. It is pointing the gods in your direction. Like, it’s like if you talk too much about how much you love your kids, how great they are, then the gods are going to notice and they’ll be like, Oh yeah?

[00:09:50] Stella: And so I wonder if that’s also like a piece of it, right? Where we’re just kind of like, this is something that you’ve worked so hard on, and people do think it’s amazing. People are so excited for this book to be coming out. And yet you’re still like, oh lord, I don’t know how I feel about this.

[00:10:09] Virginia: Yeah, you know, that’s a very interesting point. I’m not sure if it’s quite the same. I guess it, it is because I’m worried that I’m not as good as I think I am. So it’s not, it’s, it’s similar to that, but not quite the same because I am unequivocally certain that my children are fantastic. It’s that I don’t want the powers that be to notice and they’ll be like, you know, you guys have had lived a little too soft a life. So. For narrative interest, we’ll fuck shit up a bit and I’ll be like, no, why though?

[00:10:47] Stella: The gods are doing it for the plot.

[00:10:50] Virginia: Yeah, and I’m like we don’t need plot

[00:10:55] Stella: No, this is Slice of Life. Yeah, our genre is Slice of Life, thank you.

[00:11:01] Virginia: Yes, I don’t need adventure. I don’t even need sex that much, you know, like slice of life. We just want to talk about food. We want to have fun conversations. We want to be financially stable. We want to live in a safe and secure area. We want. We want the softest life possible.

[00:11:25] Stella: The dream.

[00:11:27] Virginia: Yes.

[00:11:28] Stella: But speaking about sex, so you and I are pretty open when it comes to talking about sex. We’re recommending smutty novels to people. But has it been hard to promote Illusive like knowing it has some really steamy sex scenes?

[00:11:43] Virginia: yeah. And even when you say steamy sex scenes, part of me wants to qualify it. It’s that same feeling like, well, maybe I’m actually bad at sex. no one has told me because the last person I’ve slept with and the only person I’ve slept with for the last like 23 years. is my husband. So

[00:12:06] Stella: And he’s not allowed to complain.

[00:12:08] Virginia: right, because he should just be grateful. So yeah, part of the worry about there being sex in this book is that when people say, Oh, it’s steamy. Oh, it’s so spicy. And I’m just like, but it’s not, it’s not really that steamy, spicy. I feel like it’s pretty run of the mill sex. Maybe it’s written not run of the mill, but I don’t, I don’t, there’s nothing that spectacularly surprising or flexible.

[00:12:35] Stella: It’s not porn. You know, where it’s like, oh, that’s just not possible or realistic. Uh, so we’re not aiming for, we’re not aiming for UTIs here.

[00:12:45] Virginia: No, no. And it’s so funny that you mentioned the UTI because that’s a throwaway comment in my book, but spoiler alert. So yeah, I feel a little bit awkward because I’m like, well, what if people read this? And they’re like, that’s not how sex works.

That’s not even sexy. So, so part of me is just worried about being judged for my

[00:13:05] Stella: Your sexual prowess.

[00:13:07] Virginia: Yeah, my understanding of sex. And then the other part is that it’s like you made porn and then you gave it to your friends and strangers to read the porn. And then they comment. On the porn, to you.

[00:13:24] Stella: It’s a, there’s a lot of plot, friends. For those of you who have not read Illusive, there is a lot of plot with this porn. And some of the plot is very sad. Our girl Katie goes through it.

[00:13:35] Virginia: Yes,

[00:13:35] Stella: it is, but it is difficult because I feel like there’s this sense of expectation and I think you really don’t want people to expect something they’re not going to receive when it comes to the book.

So you’re like, well, I don’t want you to think it’s super smutty because it’s not, but I don’t want you to think there’s no sex in it because there is sex. I don’t want you to think it’s going to be the next great American novel because I don’t think that it is, but some of us think it’s pretty fantastic.

[00:14:07] Virginia: Okay. So I feel like I’ve just been read for filth. That’s great.

[00:14:11] Stella: We love it!

[00:14:14] Virginia: Thank you. Yeah. You know what? You summed it up very well. I don’t want to talk it up because I’m worried that people will be like, well, this actually is nothing like what she just said. Yeah. Yes, exactly that. We can just stop the podcast now. That was all we needed to say. Yeah,

[00:14:33] Stella: would be one of my biggest fears to work this hard and write this book and put it out in the world and have people be like, well it wasn’t that good. It’s like what, what was it for then? But at the same time, but at the same time, I think if we asked your friends, do you think Virginia is the kind of person who cares what other people think?

Most of us would say, well, are they people that are smart and have good opinions or are they stupid people? And so it’s hard because we know that it’s not really, like for you, it’s not really about what other people think about you. And yet you’re putting this book out into the world, right?

[00:15:21] Virginia: and it would be a lie to say that I don’t care what people think about the book. Uh, but you are right. It matters more to me what my friends think about the book. Because I don’t want my friends to think I’m stupid or bad at something. Like, I don’t mind they think I’m bad at something that I’m actually bad at, but I think I’m good at this. And so it would be bad if they thought I was bad at something I think I’m good at. I don’t know, if y’all can follow that logic.

[00:15:54] Stella: and it’s also impossible for us to prove it to you because you’re like, well, what if you’re lying to me?

What if you just love me so much you don’t want to hurt my feelings?

[00:16:04] Virginia: Yeah, and I mean, I don’t actually lie to my children, so I think I end up hurting their feelings a lot, but You know cuz like, aren’t you proud of me? I was like, well No, I’m not not proud of you, but I’m not as proud of you as as you think I should be for this somewhat mediocre proffering. So, so I,

[00:16:28] Stella: I’m not ashamed of you. I’m just not as proud as maybe you were hoping.

[00:16:35] Virginia: right. Like, you have not brought dishonor upon our family, but neither have you brought the honor.

[00:16:43] Stella: And so are you worried that your novel is sitting in the, you have not brought dishonor? But you have not brought on your category,

[00:16:54] Virginia: Well, now that you mention it probably, you know, no, actually that’s not true because I don’t, I don’t think Illusive is a masterpiece and I really think it I think it’s a very good book. It’s probably a great book. I think it’s a great story. It’s well written. I think the characters go through a lot. As we said, we want our personal lives to be slice of life genre, but the genre folks for this book is angst.

The genre is angst. And I cannot emphasize that enough. I love angst. So yeah, for me, I don’t think every book needs to be like Pulitzer Prize winning, or do books win Pulitzers? Do they?

[00:17:39] Stella: don’t they? I’m pretty sure you, you win a Pulitzer for

[00:17:42] Virginia: Can you? I thought it was just non fiction. Journalism, right? It’s,

[00:17:47] Stella: there’s a Pulitzer for autobios now. I

[00:17:50] Virginia: oh really?

[00:17:51] Stella: think so. Yeah. Maybe not. We’re going to have to edit this.

[00:17:56] Virginia: we don’t know, doesn’t matter. I feel like these side notes are pretty interesting though. Yeah, so I don’t have any delusions of grandeur, but I think it’s a good thing that I made and I’m proud of it. And when I’m doing well, I think, yeah, why wouldn’t people like it? You know, it’s, it’s funny. It’s really sad, there’s found family, there’s sexiness, there’s sexy Asian people, which we all love, but not in a fetishized way for both women and men. I don’t, I don’t enjoy fetishizing anybody.

I try to address that in, in the book. So when I’m not doing a full body cringe, I recognize that it’s a good product. It’s a good book. I think people will enjoy it. And also I think I can know that and recognize that it is not Life changing prose. I’m not, I’m not ocean Vuong. Okay. Like, yeah. Hmm.

[00:18:58] Stella: But you don’t have to be. I think that’s the other thing that’s really important to remember, right? That you don’t have to be, that this book can be great on its own merits and it doesn’t need to win awards from. stuffy old white people for it to have a lot of merit to it. And I think one of the things I love about Illusive and about the multiverse that you’re creating is that people do get to see themselves.

And this is a story of somebody who has tried so hard to make her mark on the world. And to heal from what she’s been through, to take accountability for her choices, and to do the best she can with, some of the shitty hands she was dealt. And I think that that’s ultimately, a really amazing thing to put out into the world.

Like, that’s an amazing vibe to put out there for people. That you can find family and heal and grow, even if some of the things that happened to you were shitty and some of the things that you did were shitty. That there’s still redemption and joy. at the end of it. And so I’m like, that’s fantastic. Like, that’s beautiful.

[00:20:11] Virginia: I really like, I really like this book that you’re talking about.

[00:20:17] Stella: Right? I think we should be very excited this book.

So do you think that you would feel differently about Illusive and promoing it if it had been traditionally published versus self published?

[00:20:34] Virginia: Yes. think. But since. I am not traditionally published. I have no idea, so I assume so. I chose to go the self publishing route for multiple reasons. One is that I’ve had two to three years to be pitching this book and I have pitched it zero times because I don’t enjoy it. Let’s be real. That’s the type of person I am. And the second thing is, I’m really impatient. I’m incredibly impatient. And the thought of having to go through so many hoops to get this story out there it’s not life giving to me. It’s not joy giving. It’s horrible. So, I really want to be traditionally published, if that makes sense. And I think perhaps the younger generations will feel less strongly about it. Access has been flattened so much, right? So I don’t think anything badly about indie musicians, who’s self produce and load stuff on SoundCloud or spot. Anyone can put things on Spotify now, right? I think that’s amazing. So why should books be any different? Especially since there is so little representation. in traditional publishing and that it doesn’t matter how much lip service that they give about diversity and increasing blah, blah, blah. It’s still most of these publishing companies are owned by old rich white men. And my story, as we’ve established, is not for them.

I’m not saying they can’t enjoy it, but it’s, it’s not their audience. And sometimes I think the stories that I want to tell mean a lot to me, but they might, they probably won’t mean a lot to them. But just because it means a lot to me doesn’t necessarily mean it’s marketable. Or profitable or all these other things that traditional publishers have to think about because they have to pay for people, right? They’re companies.


[00:22:32] Stella: we don’t know how they would have asked you to change the novel or the series itself. Or if they would have said, like, oh, we just want one novel and not all of the multiverse that you’re planning here.

[00:22:46] Virginia: yeah. And then they would own the rights.

[00:22:48] Stella: Yeah, so they would own the rights and I, I think that you give up a lot of control narratively.

When you go with traditional publishing. But there is that sense of like validation that an external gatekeeper has decided that your work is good enough.

[00:23:05] Virginia: Yes. And I hate that I want it.

[00:23:12] Stella: Right? No, I totally understand it. It sucks. It fucking sucks. But at least you want to at least you’re willing to admit that that is something that could be meaningful to you.

[00:23:23] Virginia: Yeah. And I’m not going to lie. I feel like if I do well enough in de publishing that. Maybe I want to keep my fiction indie published because again, it’s so much more control and all these things, but I definitely would want a traditional publishing deal for any sort of nonfiction I write if I could get my shit together enough to write it. But I would, yeah. So I, yeah. I’m not opposed to traditional publishing and I think it would probably work better for my nonfiction. I’m just gonna put it out there. I want to be the next Crying in H Mart, but whatever my version is, I want to be that. I want to be the next, the Night Parade, a Speculative Memoir.

I want to be the, the next How Far the Light Reaches, that’s what I want to be. I want that.

[00:24:13] Stella: We need to do an episode on Asian American memoirs that we’ve loved, because there’s just so many good ones out there.

[00:24:20] Virginia: There are,

[00:24:22] Stella: And I can’t wait for you to add yours to the pantheon.

[00:24:25] Virginia: don’t even know if it would be a memoir, , it’d just probably be, I, cause that’s just too intimidating. And also I just don’t really want to talk about my history or my life, but I want to talk about the things I think about that are informed by my history in life, if that

[00:24:40] Stella: Mm mm.

[00:24:41] Virginia: A lot of the books that. I’ve just mentioned were recommended to me by you, Stella, and the reason why I love them or several of them is that they talk about a thing by talking about something else. And I realized I’m very bad at talk doing that in my nonfiction, like I cannot think I could, I don’t, I could never write the night parade. or, how far the light reaches. One, because I don’t think I have the journalistic chops, so to speak, to do it. I, I’m an entertainment journalist, folks.

I just give you my opinion on pop culture and things, which who’s going to argue with me? You don’t have to agree with me. But like facts, facts, facts, you know, I feel like that’s so much harder to do,

[00:25:29] Stella: Was just going to say the extended metaphors in those books. Are just amazing,

[00:25:35] Virginia: Mm hmm.

But I realized that’s what fiction is, because even though I’ve been telling myself, oh, I don’t know if I can do that, and maybe I can’t do that yet in my nonfiction, but I know how to do that in fiction, because in Illusive. We’re talking about a lot of things without talking about it. There’s a lot of,

[00:25:53] Stella: Asian.

That’s so peak Asian.

[00:25:57] Virginia: It is.

[00:25:58] Stella: So, Katie is a pop star. She has to deal with having both a private inner persona and a public persona. And she kind of has to ask herself, how much? honesty do I want to give both within my music and within what I let people know about. And that’s a struggle that other characters also face in the novel.

I think that’s also, that’s something that all of us go through, right? There’s a sense of like, how off, how honest can I really be about what I’m experiencing? Especially with you going through your full body cringe, but having to promote this book. How much of your inner thoughts can you really have be on the outside?

[00:26:47] Virginia: Yeah.

It, uh, glad for our podcast, because on the other podcasts, I have to sound smarter. Well, I’m so glad you asked. You see Illusive, the reason why it’s titled Illusive is because it’s all about the illusions that we put up between ourselves and others. I mean, it is about that, but that’s why called

Illusive and not Elusive. Even though it’s a pun with Illusive, because she is also

[00:27:16] Stella: Illusive.

[00:27:19] Virginia: Illusive. how much of it is the mirage?

[00:27:22] Stella: I also think though that This kind of gets into what Asian American women are often experiencing, but in Katie’s case, it’s to the max. She’s so scrutinized. She’s so judged. Everything that she says or does, the things she wears, the music that she writes, the choices that she makes with her art, they’re just under the microscope all the time.

And I think that that’s something that a lot of people can identify with, but for my experiences as an Asian American woman, That’s part of what gives me full body cringe. It’s like being perceived. Having to have a persona. Asking myself, is the vulnerability worth the ability to be honest with others?

[00:28:07] Virginia: Yeah. Smartness of your words and wording have caused my brain to go, and I might keep that in the podcast because people are like, well, clearly we’re not reading her book because she sounds like a moron.

[00:28:27] Stella: You had to put all your work into making the book smart. So right now your brain needs a break.

[00:28:32] Virginia: yes, there we go. There we go.

[00:28:34] Stella: So you’ve been writing on the internet for a while now for Mochi Mag, for Scary Mommy there, and then your own personal blog, as well as other publications. Do you ever also feel that sense of, like, cringe when you’re promoting those things? Or has it only been with Illusive?

[00:28:54] Virginia: it has only been with Illusive. In fact, it’s only with fiction. Even my poems, I don’t feel quite so cringe because I recognize that they’re good poems Maybe they’re not , see, there’s that urge to qualify again. Like, maybe they’re not like Maya Angelou style poems, but they’re still okay. Suddenly I had the urge to sing, Reindeers are better than people.

[00:29:18] Stella: Do you think that some of the hesitation comes from the fact that people are paying for these books?

[00:29:26] Virginia: Well, I didn’t feel that hesitation when people were paying for my Chinese book. So I don’t, I mean,

I felt a little bit bad because. It was basically reworked blog entries, but I recognize that I was saving people time from having to scour online and read. I edited it a lot, and I tried to add value and give something that they couldn’t get on the website. So yeah, I, I think the main thing is, is because it’s art. And even though we say art is subjective, we also know there’s legitimately bad art

[00:30:03] Stella: There are some bad novels out there. No, no, no. There are, you and I know, there are some bad books out there.

[00:30:10] Virginia: And you know what? I don’t want to yuck someone’s yum. And also, what is this garbage that we’re reading?

[00:30:20] Stella: Like, objectively bad. You think, okay, we, we know that people have different stylistic preferences.

People can connect with all kinds of media, even if it’s not objectively well done. That doesn’t mean a person can’t have an emotional reaction or a connection to it.

[00:30:39] Virginia: Right.

[00:30:40] Stella: But some of these books are just objectively shitty.

You think like, my God, who paid you to write this?

[00:30:46] Virginia: Yeah, and they made millions. There’s like movie franchises. There’s just, there’s, it’s just bad.

[00:30:54] Stella: And so why not you? Why not you? Why can’t you have a great book gonna be published?

[00:31:00] Virginia: yes, you’re

[00:31:01] Stella: you’ll make millions! That’s what we’re manifesting, millions.

[00:31:06] Virginia: My husband would be super, super pleased. If that happened, when, when that happens,

[00:31:14] Stella: Yes, but does he know that it will be going to BTS?

[00:31:20] Virginia: yes, that’s,

[00:31:24] Stella: not all of it. Not all well, if it’s, if it’s

[00:31:27] Virginia: millions, of it goes to the children. And then Hybe.

Hybe is the parent company of BTS for folks who are not in the know. No, the reason why my husband wants me to make money is so that I can spend it on hobbies. And have it not take away from the children. He’s fine with me having hobbies, but he’s more fine with the hobbies paying for themselves.

[00:31:58] Stella: And that’s the, that’s what we’re hoping, right? With this, with the novel.

[00:32:02] Virginia: Yeah. Yeah. Someone asked me once, like what success. would look like for me? Actually, that someone is my husband. He’s like, what? You chose a really shitty field. It’s a really difficult field. AI is moving in, like, there’s so many books, everyone wants to be published, and now that, now that anyone can self publish, there’s so many books out there, right?

He’s like, I just don’t want you to be sad. I don’t want you to feel bad about yourself. Not that you made anything bad, but that it’s just a really difficult field. It doesn’t matter how good it is. It’s just hard to cut through all the noise and have people find you, and I, I feel like I have reasonable expectations. Let’s say all 1, 000 of my Facebook friends bought it. Then I would be three, fifths of the way to breaking even. So Facebook friends, what are you doing? Even that, like my main goal right now for the first book I feel like is to break even and I know that most people don’t make money on in fiction writing until they have a reasonable backlist, because it’s, it’s hard to sell one book, but it’s easy to sell three because it’s the same amount of work.

I don’t expect to be an overnight smash, but if I can get, if I can break even, if people like the book, if people are talking about the book, it doesn’t have to be, I don’t have to be I don’t have to break out on viral book talk. Right. Would I like that? Of course I would.

I’m not stupid. But , I do not expect the predominantly white booktalkers to be like, that’s the book I want to read. An Asian American woman in her 30s dealing with trauma with Asian pop stars set in Korea.

[00:33:47] Stella: super hot.

[00:33:49] Virginia: Right? Where I use words that they might not be familiar with or talk about culture in a way that they might not be familiar with. I don’t expect people to be like, this is the next summer beach read. First of all, a summer beach read should not be this sad, so I feel like I have appropriate expectations, maybe not super optimistic, but I, I, I would just like to gain experience from this, to learn how to talk about myself more, to learn how to talk about myself. My art more, I feel super pretentious calling it art, but that’s what it is. Right. And I just want to tell these stories. I’m so tired. And so I feel like you probably are also tired. I’m so tired. of reading the same story.

[00:34:32] Stella: Mm

[00:34:32] Virginia: I enjoy the same story, but I’m also like, I like other stories too. And I would like these stories to sometimes look like a fantasy of me. You know what I mean? Like,

[00:34:50] Stella: That’s enough reason to put it out in the world.

[00:34:53] Virginia: right?

Uh, yeah.

So that’s, that’s, that’s, I think what I would find successful. It’s like, if I can break even, if I can continue doing this, if I can enjoy the process and And if also people respond well to it, they say never to read your reviews, but like, let’s face it. We’re all masochists. So we’re going to read them.

We just can’t respond,

[00:35:20] Stella: No, you cannot respond.

[00:35:23] Virginia: cannot respond, right?

[00:35:25] Stella: Amazon has you listed at number one in Asian American poetry. So even though it’s the wrong genre, we’ll take the one. We’ll take the win.

[00:35:35] Virginia: I’m hella Asian that way. Give me that number one. I’m very competitive. I, And I’m super appreciative to everyone who’s pre ordered

[00:35:43] Stella: So last episode, you mentioned that you didn’t want to have to justify your existence anymore.

[00:35:48] Virginia: Mm hmm.

[00:35:49] Stella: And I think This book making its way out into the world is another way of you saying that you’re here and that you’re longing to have this story be out and about is enough. That someone else doesn’t have to validate the existence of the story for it to exist.

[00:36:09] Virginia: I would like some validation though. Don’t get me wrong.

[00:36:12] Stella: We love validation! Although I will say, I will say your, your advanced reader copies, or your advanced readers have loved the book.

[00:36:22] Virginia: They have.

[00:36:23] Stella: We, yes, like I have seen some of the things that people have been saying about this book and people are really excited about it. People were really excited when you were working on it, and they were reading drafts.

But more validation is nice. More validation is nice.

[00:36:39] Virginia: Yeah,

[00:36:39] Stella: So in continuing with the theme of our podcast, which is Brazn Azn, in what ways do you think publishing this novel makes you a brazen Asian?

[00:36:49] Virginia: feel a bit shameless. Like I think it’s kind of ballsy to say, Hey, I made something that I think is good enough for somebody else to pay 999 or 1499 for. I made something that trees should die for. And we love trees, we love trees,

[00:37:09] Stella: Trees are great.

[00:37:10] Virginia: except during allergy season, I don’t need their public sex gametes screwing up my sinuses.

[00:37:14] Stella: Those are male trees.

[00:37:16] Virginia: so, so yeah, I, I feel like that’s pretty brazen, like I feel shameless even, you know, having a podcast and then talking about myself on the podcast and yeah, just going the self publishing route I feel like I should apologize, I feel I should apologize to my husband and my children because it took, you know, when I’m really focused on writing, I don’t feed the children. You know, I don’t care. Someone has to take care of the children. So, I mean, yes, they’re older now, except for the baby, but someone’s still providing labor, right?

To watch the baby, to watch each other, to feed each other. I feel like I should apologize. Like, Oh, this is, this is money. Like the time I spent writing this book, I could have been writing or pitching. paid opportunities, the amount of the thousands of dollars I have spent on this book for like editing and art and and cultural edits and and I tried to hire women of color in particular and Asian women And even though some of them are my friends, and they tried to say take less money. I tried to convince them to take more money, which seems counterintuitive, but I want people to value their labor. And I know for many folks, they would not get the opportunity to work on a book. I’m a novel unless if someone took a risk on them. Right. So my hope is that if I continue to be successful, not that other people’s success rides on me or whatever, but like that I can continue to provide other opportunities for my friends and people I respect, but yeah, I feel bad.

That’s money that could have been spent, on vacations for my kids or different education things or whatever’s put into our retirement. I have five children could be put into their education, although I don’t know how educated they’ll be, but it’s still, it’s opportunity cost, it’s actual cost, it, it takes time away from my family, which I’m To be honest, if it wasn’t this book, it would be something else because I am not one of those people who have to be like stuck to my kids or whatever. Yeah. I feel, I feel constantly as if I need to apologize for doing this. I feel constantly sorry to my husband or like when people hear like, Oh, Your husband lets you do these things. I feel like I should apologize to him. I feel like I should apologize to my children that, Hey, mommy’s writing stories, mommy’s telling truth by. Writing lies by writing about made up people and then they’re like, mommy, tell us a story. I was like, no, I don’t do that. I don’t tell bedtime stories, but I’ll write 96, 000 words about make believe people in the pop k pop world, you know So I constantly feel as if I should be sorry for what I’m doing and I part of me is Incredibly sorry And then the other part of me is

[00:40:29] Stella: is

[00:40:29] Virginia: like, yeah, and I feel like, Oh, I have to succeed at this book because otherwise my husband will be like, No, we can’t spend money on the second one. Or I have to succeed or I have to also launch my, my like other writing career. So that I can justify this, like I constantly feel like I have to justify my decisions and isn’t justification just a fancy term for apologizing? I mean, that’s what apologetics is, right, You know,

[00:41:00] Stella: right, right.

[00:41:01] Virginia: prove something, to justify something. And that’s how I feel all the time. And then the other part of me is like, Why? Why should I have to apologize? Why, why is my hobby not valid? Why is me wanting to tell a story that is in my brain and I want to get it out of my soul and onto, onto like electronic bits or paper? Why is that? Why should I apologize for that? Why? Why should I apologize for having desires and wants why, why? If my husband? wanted to do this, no one would be like, Oh, he should apologize to you because, Oh, he makes the money. So he gets to decide where the money goes, right? Like there’s all these, or if my kids want to do something, no one would be like, well, why do you have to do that?

It’d be like, Oh, you should foster their children’s dreams. But because I’m kind of old, I’m turning 46 this year. I have five kids. I should just Not do things,

[00:42:00] Stella: Yeah, yeah, yeah, right? So you are brazenly making your dreams come true and trying to bring other people along with you, right?

[00:42:10] Virginia: Yes. Yes. So I feel like another way that I would feel successful is that. Someone watching me do this, it makes them think, Hey, that thing that I want to do, I can do it, or, Hey, that thing I want to do, I’m worth doing it. That actually would be a bigger measure of success. Of course I would like to break even, but that would be even cooler. And if they get really famous, I would really like them to remember this, how I helped them along in the process. And they could just let me ride on their coattails because I feel like riding on someone’s coattails is so much easier than doing things yourself. So please, please do that. So I don’t have to work as hard.

[00:42:51] Stella: And I would like to acknowledge, and I would like to acknowledge Virginia. for being my inspiration. No, I tell you all the time that you are one of those people that makes me think that I could do the impossible. I really think that you exist as that person for a lot of folks. By being brazen and by giving yourself a chance and by taking your desire seriously.

[00:43:16] Virginia: now I’m going to cry so we can end the podcast here.

[00:43:22] Stella: So that was Brazn Azn. With me, one of your co hosts, Stella.

[00:43:29] Virginia: me, Virginia Duan, please buy my book.

[00:43:31] Stella: Please go check out Virginia’s book, Illusive. It’s available on Amazon in both paperback and Kindle. This has been episode two of Brazn Azn podcast. Good night, Brazn N8n.