Thursday, 3 December 2015

MY Guest ~ Atom Yang

Red Envelope

Release date: December 4th
Publisher: MLR Press

The Chinese New Year is a time for saying goodbye to the past and hello to the future, but Clint doesn’t want to bid farewell to his cousin’s handsome American friend, Weaver, after they share an unexpected passionate encounter.

The Lunar New Year is the biggest holiday in the Chinese calendar, a time for family reunions, and for saying goodbye to the past and hello to the future. Clint, however, doesn’t want to bid farewell to what happened after last year’s celebration, when he and his Cousin Maggie’s handsome Caucasian friend, Weaver, shared an unexpected but long-desired passionate encounter. East is East and West is West, and Weaver seems to want to keep it that way, but maybe Clint can bridge that great divide this coming New Year, and show Weaver what it means to be loved and accepted.

Message From Atom
I love a good retelling of a classic story. It’s neat to see how things are translated for different time periods, cultures, and environments. Romeo and Juliet is a favorite one, because it has all the great elements of a romance, from star-crossed lovers down to a tragic ending (I might have a different definition of romance than most readers of the genre, given my Chinese background which emphasizes fatalism, but not to worry, my stories end happily so far).

The latest movie to “reimagine,” as Hollywood likes to call it these days, the Romeo and Juliet story was Warm Bodies (2013). It involved zombies and Romeo, here named a growly “R,” falls in walking dead love with a Juliet from the wrong side of the post-apocalyptic plague named “Julie.” Although not a strict retelling, the core elements inspired the story—except there’s no tragic ending (I did say this was a Hollywood reimagining).

In my own debut story, “Red Envelope,” I’m retelling a classic Chinese tale of two separated lovers—the Cowherd and the Weaver Girl—in the form of Clint and Weaver. Again, the core elements are present, but translated into contemporary times and including both gender- and race- bending (gay men, one of Asian descent and the other of European stock). The original has a happy ending of sorts—despite being on opposite sides of a wide, impassable river—magpies, the Chinese bird of marital happiness and fidelity, form a bridge once a year for the lovers to meet. This myth is also the basis of the QiXi Festival on the seventh day of the seventh month, and ties with the “Summer Triangle” asterism (not a constellation, but a stellar pattern) when the stars Altair (symbolizing the Cowherd) and Vega (the Weaver Girl) are “connected” by Deneb (bridge of magpies), allowing them to “cross” that crazy, silver river—the Milky Way. In “Red Envelope,” Clint and Weaver find their own way, with a little help from family, to overcome obstacles keeping them apart.

So given the happy-ever-after that occurs more than once a year for our heroes, maybe I should call my story a reimagining, rather than a retelling? Or better yet, I should call “Red Envelope” my magpie, one of many I plan to let fly that will build a bridge between people so that love can flourish.

About Atom
Atom was born to Chinese immigrant parents who thought it'd be a hoot to raise him as an immigrant, too--so he grew up estranged in a familiar land, which gives him an interesting perspective. He's named after a Japanese manga (comic book) character his father loved, in case you were wondering.

Find Atom Here


  1. Hi N.J.! Thank you so much for inviting me to be on your blog! It's a privilege to get to share my work with your readers!