Set in New York’s Chinatown in 1976, this sharp and gritty novel is a mystery set against the backdrop of a city in turmoil
Robert Chow is a Vietnam vet and an alcoholic. He’s also the only Chinese American cop on the Chinatown beat, and the only police officer who can speak Cantonese. But he’s basically treated like a token, trotted out for ribbon cuttings and community events.
So he shouldn’t be surprised when his superiors are indifferent to his suspicions that an old Chinese woman’s death may have actually been a murder. But he sure is angry. With little more than his own demons to fuel him, Chow must take matters into his own hands.
Rich with the details of its time and place, this homage to noir will appeal to fans of S.J. Rozan and Michael Connelly.
When did you realize you wanted to be a writer?
I've wanted to write pretty much as soon as I learned to write. My elementary school had a journal and my wife likes to recite my second-grade poems that were published in them.
How long did it take you to write the book?
This Is a Bust took about four years to write. The first draft took about a year and a half and then I was with this agent who wanted it to become something quite different. After we parted ways, I restored it to my original vision. All the rewriting made the book overall extra-crispy, and I mean that in a good way.
What is your work schedule like when you are writing?
I write regularly, during "lunch" at the day job and also hours at night and on the weekend. We have a toddler and nothing is normal, not even schedules!
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I write on vintage Mac laptops. I use several different ones because of the feel of the keyboards. It's like using different guitars to record an album, and I am a rock star, after all.
In your opinion, what does it take to get a book published?
Editors' eyes glaze over when they read a manuscript they've seen thousands of times. Your voice is a unique instrument and only you know how to work it. You have to play it hard and loud, you have to be yourself fully, to get your book published.
Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?
I delve into the era. With This Is a Bust, I got all these magazines and newspapers from 1976 and before and read them. I restricted myself to films and music from 1976 and before. Man, was New York multicultural decades before the term was coined! I also interviewed two awesome retired NYPD cops who had served during that time.
When did you write your first book and how old were you?
The first book that ended up being published (and was the third overall, I think) was in 2002. I was in my early 30s.
What do you like to do when you are not writing?
I enjoy fixing up the vintage Macs that I write on. I replace dead floppy drives and install newfangled solid-state drives to replace hard-disk drives. If you only use a word processor, a Powerbook G4 from 2004 is dead even with a current MacBook.
Ed Lin, a native New Yorker of Taiwanese and Chinese descent, is the first author to win three Asian American Literary Awards and is an all-around standup kinda guy. His books include Waylaid, and a trilogy set in New York’s Chinatown in the 70s: This Is a Bust, Snakes Can’t Run and One Red Bastard. Ghost Month, published by Soho Crime in July 2014, is a Taipei-based mystery, and Incensed, published October 2016, continues that series. Lin lives in Brooklyn with his wife, actress Cindy Cheung, and son.
Connect with Ed at http://www.edlinforpresident.com or on social media at:
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