My Dr. 2 co scribe and amazing artist James did this haunting painting as his rendition of the Bald New World cover. I’m in awe of the colors and how it captures the sense of sorrow that permeates the characters within. It’s a nice segue into my thoughts of Bald New World almost 7 months since publication.
I stayed up late last night, re-reading the book. In many ways, this is the book I’d always wanted to write and as I’ve mentioned in previous interviews, it was by far my most personal work. Is it without flaws? No, of course not. I have several books that I’ve written throughout the years. Many, I’m glad have never seen the light of day. One, I’m actually resurrecting for possible future submission. But I’m still glad BNW is my “first” and “debut.” It sort of came together, capturing many of the things that have haunted me throughout my life while being able to tell a story I enjoyed. I knew for a fact that I wanted to embody the frenetic pace of living in China, but at the same time wanted to tell a big story that was very personal. I liked the gritty details, liked the feeling that it tried to tell an authentic story, even if the story can be outlandish at times (a world full of bald people doesn’t seem strange? lol). At the same time, I also didn’t want to tell a dystopian tale. I didn’t want this to become like a whole world order based on baldness and hair. The scariest part of the BNW world is that ultimately, no one cares that the baldification actually happened and life just spirals into even more chaos, an absurdly exaggerated present.
I’ve read many of the reviews. The positive ones have been stunning (and many have been outlined in previous posts). There’ve been negative ones too, but the ones I’ve read are fair. Not everyone is going to like my work or my choices, and I accept that. Just by nature of its title and concept, I know it arouses certain expectations. I remember my friend, Leza, warned me before release that the title made it sound like it was going to be a comedy or satire, and many of the reviews I’ve seen have expressed surprise at the realism and darkness of the tale. But by the point it was going to publication, I honestly couldn’t think of a better title, ha ha. Believe me, I tried. Anything else wasn’t as gripping and didn’t encapsulate the world I wanted to weave.
The love/hate responses have been intriguing. I’ve read so many different interpretations and takes on the characters, it’s been amazing. I think the most controversial is my decision to allegorize Linda Yu as, in part, Nick’s sense of failure at the American dream that anchors him to his past. I made the intentional choice to make him still dwell on it, despite the fact that pretty much everyone teases him about it and is surprised he hasn’t moved on. That in turn led me to paint his portrayal of love interests in a different light than I would have had he not had this specter lingering in the background that makes him view romance through the lens of Linda Yu (and the American dream). In fact, earlier drafts had much more extensive stories involving both Rebecca and Beauvoir, which I ultimately cut because I felt it detracted from the overall tale.
What’s been most important is how the writing changed me, how much I grew up during the process, and how my writing evolved. In many ways, my next book will be very different from this one, more subdued, though not without its share of bizarre sequences. But I’m so excited and honored Bald New World was my first. I am grateful to everyone who has supported my work in any way; Perfect Edge and my fantastic editor, Phil; of course to my family without whom the book would be impossible; and of course God for giving this poor kid a chance to tell his stories.