Updated: Feb 8, 2021
From New York to Vancouver: Stories on the Fly by Sandra Yuen MacKay and James D. Young was released in spring 2018. Here's a Q and A with Sandra and James D. Young about their writing.
Why did you write From New York to Vancouver?
Sandra: James D. Young and I met on an online writers group, www.lit.org, critiquing each other's work and sending quips via emails. James sent me clippings of Douglas Coupland's Temp which appeared in the Metro newspaper in New York. Inspired, I wrote Chop Shtick, full of one-liners and sardonic humor, about a Chinese schizophrenic artist, Cathy Fung and her merry band of artists, friends who receive a commission to build an Upcycled sculpture on a downtown plaza. Through madcap adventures, life and death circumstances, loss and her quest to become an artist, she reaches closer to her potential and gains insights about herself. After that, I really wanted to collaborate with James on a piece of writing.
Untitled Story, the first novella in From New York to Vancouver, basically wrote itself. We challenged ourselves to combine forces in this feat of writing. We alternated writing chapters in multiple first-person points of view between Peter Petrovich and Samantha Chu on opposite ends of the continent. We had no roadmap. The plot thickened, tension and emotion grew, into a sizzling climax and the ultimate denouement.
How is it different than other romance novels?
Sandra: This book is unlike any other. Peter is a composite of a New Yorker, politically incorrect with a temper and moody at times, dealing with pressures at work and a vamp in the office. But behind his hard exterior, he has a hidden kindness and sincere desire to help Samantha find a publisher for her manuscript. She is a Vancouver college student, looking for direction, a bit klutzy, concise in words, and also a little cynical at times. The imperfections of the characters make them genuine. Fate draws them together but complications and conflicts arise.
The other novella in the book, Inner Circle, is also a very original take on the romance genre. In fact, it's not so much about romance but human foibles, a government conspiracy, a group of misfit characters, secrets, and deception. It starts out light and humorous, a lawyer looking for a husband for his daughter Jennifer Abrams, but through a series of flashbacks and events, mysteries and lies are revealed. There are no safeguards in a dangerous game of cat-and-mouse with Jennifer as the prize.
Humor is an important feature of this book. Is it just for entertainment value?
Sandra: Partly, but also it allows us to laugh at ourselves and see humor in the everyday. The humor is balanced by more serious dramatic factors in the book.
James, how did you come to write Legacy?
James: I may never fully understand where the idea originated to have a teenager’s photographs turn into Hopper-like masterpieces, but the story has resonated with many readers and lovers of Edward Hopper’s art since it was first published six years ago.
James, you also released four other books. How did you develop the premise for Boulevard?
James: Boulevard was written in 20 days in 2007. All I did then was to observe the dual “wars on terrorism” and the increasing reduction of our economic reserves. A year later, the nation teetered on the brink of a second Great Depression caused by real estate and financial meltdowns on Wall Street. Moving the harsh effects of these events to the near future, but also basing them on current Washington chaos politics, the tale took on a greater chilling sense having the country “fracture.”
One unusual sci-fi element was that the sun we take for granted no longer shines there. Was that due to a freakish weather anomaly – or was the Boulevard itself somehow cursed? But ultimately, it is the unique cast of memorable characters which drives this dystopian story of survival.
Sounds fascinating! Thanks to you both for the interview.