Friday, October 28, 2011

Indie October Author Interview and Giveaway: Veronica Li

 Today I want to welcome the wonderful Veronica Li, author of Journey Across Four Seas and Nightfall in Mogadishu (you all know you want to read these books so don't forget to read to the end to see how you can win one of the books).

Veronica Li. Photo from

 1. Both of your books cover very different subjects. Do you find it hard to switch your
writing style?


It was difficult in the beginning. But once I saw the common thread between the two very different subjects, the style I developed in one book became an asset for the other.

My first book, NIGHTFALL IN MOGADISHU, is a spy thriller set in Somalia, told in the third person point of view. It’s also a historical fiction based on actual events that led to civil war in the country. The plot contains the suspense and exploits of a James Bond movie. The writing style is fast-paced and action packed. In order to place the reader in an exotic country, I took care to give detailed descriptions of the place. These skills helped me a lot in my second book, JOURNEY ACROSS THE FOUR SEAS: A CHINESE WOMAN’S SEARCH FOR HOME. It’s a memoir of my mother’s life in China. The narrator is my mother, and in the book she’s telling me her life stories in Chinese. Her voice is gentle and conversational, night-and-day from the sinister tone in my spy thriller. But the other elements of story-telling are the same. Actually my mother’s life is as exciting as a thriller. The book contains scenes of her dodging bullets, outwitting kidnappers, fighting TB and braving U.S. immigration officers. The plot is fast-paced and action-packed, and I try to bring her world to life with vivid descriptions.

2. Do you have a favorite out of your books?

Both books were inspired by important experiences in my life. NIGHTFALL IN MOGADISHU is the result of my assignment to Somalia. I visited Somalia as an aid worker just before the country collapsed into civil war. The tragedy that befell my Somali friends moved me deeply and I felt compelled to write about it. JOURNEY ACROSS THE FOUR SEAS is the result of my caregiving for my aging mother. Living under the same roof, she had all the opportunity to bombard me with her stories. Since I’d heard them before, I wasn’t too excited about listening to them for the umpteenth time. But my friends, who were hearing them for the first time, were impressed. They suggested that I put them on tape. I was lukewarm at first, but as she started telling her stories in chronological order, they took on a dimension I had never known before.

Both books are important to me. But if I’m forced to choose, of course, it has to be JOURNEY ACROSS THE FOUR SEAS. Through this project, my mother and I became much closer. I got to understand her as a person (not just Mom) and I stopped judging her from the perspective of my times. The book was published when she was alive and still well enough to read. She passed away in peace a year later, knowing that she will be remembered.

3. What's the best thing about being an indie author? What's the hardest?

The best thing is having control over my fate. I don’t have to sit on my hands and wait for something to happen. This is true of every stage of the process:

--I pick my own editor and work with him on a mutually agreeable schedule. There is a range of publishers and formats I can choose from. With print on demand, I don’t have to worry about thousands of books waiting to be sold. With ebook, the publishing can be done in a matter of minutes.
--I retain all rights to my book, including conversion to screen play or any other adaptation.
--I can set the price of my ebook and host discounts and giveaways and any other promotional event.
--I get to meet wonderful book bloggers who support indie authors.

The hardest thing is having to learn the ropes of every aspect of the industry. I’m my own agent/publisher/publicist/salesman.It’s like staging a woman play—rather exhausting and lonesome.

But the “hardest” is getting easier every day. As more and more Indie authors succeed, this category of writers is gaining respect and recognition. The takeoff of social networking sites has also revolutionized the industry. Indie authors can reach out directly to readers and reviewers. It’s not so lonesome anymore.

4. What advice do you have for aspiring authors?


Strike a balance between writing for yourself and writing for an audience. You want to be true to yourself, but you also want people to read your book. The best way is to get feedback on your manuscript by joining a class or a group where writers critique each other. (Nowadays you can do it online from the comfort of your home). There are also nationwide writers associations with local chapters. They’re usually a great resource for sharing ideas and information and making friends. Don’t try to go it alone.

5. What three books would you bring with you on a deserted island?


ON WALDEN POND by Thoreau—a deserted island is a great place to contemplate nature and the universe and practice self-reliance.
WAR AND PEACE by Tolstoy—I’ll have all the time in the world to plow through the thousand plus page volume and learn the multiple versions of Russian names.
ROBINSON CRUSOE by Defoe—he may teach me a few survival skills.


Now like I said at the beginning, you all know you want to read these books! I have three ebook versions to give away of each book. That means you have 6 chances to win one of these awesome books!

This giveaway is a little different in that you have to be willing to post a blurb about the book once you read it by December 31, 2011.  Coming up with something to say about the book should be easy; If and when you review the book, I will make mention of it on my blog. Not to worry if you're not a book blogger. Posting your blurb on Amazon, Goodreads, Barnes and Noble, etc counts!!!

- You must be 13 and over
-  Open internationally!
- You must be a follower of A Bookish Affair
- Giveaway ends November 4!

Just fill out the form below!


  1. I already had the chance to read and review "Journey across the four seas" and it's a wonderful and touching memoir! I can wholeheartedly recommend the book!!

  2. @Birgit If you haven't had a chance to read Nightfall in Mogadishu, you should definitely check it out! Or enter to win it here (hint, hint, nudge, nudge) :)


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