Featured Interview With David Lui
Tell us a little about yourself. Where were you raised? Where do you live now?
I was born and raised in Hong Kong, China. I still live there to this day; in fact, I have never stayed in another country for more than 2 months.
Fun fact: I gave myself my English name because I’m Chinese and my parents only gave me a Chinese name. I attended the same international school from grades one to twelve. As you can imagine, this created a language dichotomy in my brain; I only spoke English at school, and Cantonese (Chinese) at home. English won the battle for my mind, and so here I am, writing and reading in English. I’m ashamed to say I can’t write any Chinese besides my name.
At what age did you realize your fascination with books? When did you start writing?
I’ve always had an interest in writing, but never considered myself a writer (I’m still coming to terms with the fact that I’m an author). My mother was an avid storyteller, lulling me to sleep most nights with bedtime stories that were told over and over again. So I grew up loving stories. But it wasn’t until high school, where my English teacher praised my writing, that I realized my literary potential. Despite the revelation, I never managed to complete a short story until my university years. “When Hope Calls” is my firstborn in the sense that it is the first story I have persevered with for more than five pages (I usually get bored after three pages and abandon the story).
Who are your favorite authors to read? What is your favorite genre to read. Who Inspires you in your writings?
Besides the Bible (I’m a Christian), I would say Les Miserables. It was the first book I ever read that had so many plot twists and intriguing characters; it was most definitely the first “mind-blown” moment of my life. There are so many life-changing themes packed into the story of Jean Valjean that I believe speaks to every single person from every walk of life. I still have no idea how Victor Hugo managed to create such a masterpiece.
My writing style is interesting in that I assimilate the syntax of the author that I happen to be reading when I write, which is fun in terms of self-exploration, but difficult in terms of consistency. I would say that the greatest influence on my writing has been Charles Dickens, because he is just so masterful at creating memorable and realistic characters. I’m trying to learn how to show a character’s personality rather than tell it in words, something Dickens and C. S. Lewis did with such ease.
Tell us a little about your latest book?
“When Hope Calls” is a gripping story about a group of people who decided to do their small part in facing the global evil of human trafficking. There is no happy ending. There are no heroes. The protagonists are a ragtag team of three humanitarian workers and a few local helpers. Their world is the same one we live in, and every single one of us has to make the same choice as they did: Do we take a step, or do we ignore our heart? I wouldn’t go so far to say my book is a must-read, but I believe its value lies in its message of hope; we must open our eyes to the darkness in the world around us, and do something about it, all without losing hope. There will be so many sad endings, so many failures, so many mishaps. But what is the human experience without hope? What is life without hope?
The idea of my book was conceived when I read my mentor, Matt Friedman’s book, titled “Where Were You?” In it, he mentions the story of a kidnapped girl who managed to call an NGO with her cellphone. But there was no elaboration, no details, which drove me mad with curiosity. I had to know what happened. So I emailed him, and he encouraged me to dramatize the story, and I did (with a gargantuan amount of help from him).
Honestly, I never imagined I would ever write a book, let alone one on human trafficking. It is such a depressing topic, and the stories are rarely happy. But writing is the ability I was given, and I know in my heart of hearts that, if I don’t use my abilities for a cause bigger than myself, I would be wasting them completely.
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