Kathryn Ma Recommends...

Reading novels by the bucketload is why I became a writer, but it can be limiting when I’m trying to write. I live in danger of overanalyzing instead of feeling my way through the act of writing, down blind corridors that might lead to an undiscovered tomb or a passageway to the sea. Best to step outside myself and take a breath. The most enjoyable freedom I’ve found is watching live theater in the company of strangers. On stage, bodies in motion paired with words deliver both language and emotion. I have that same hope for the novel I’m struggling to write. I watch and listen, all my senses engaged. The plot and subplots wrap up in two hours, a model of concision. Dialogue travels, reaching me in the dark. I’m not taking down notes, but my ear is. If I’m open and lucky, the magic might follow me home.

My new novel, The Chinese Groove, is about fathers and sons, a theme explored by playwright Lauren Yee (along with fathers and daughters) in hilarious and heart-wrenching works. I saw several of her plays while writing my book. The stories Yee tells, and the risks she takes, made my project feel valid and solid. Best of all, in the theater, there were people all around me, sharing the moment as one.
—Kathryn Ma, author of The Chinese Groove (Counterpoint Press, 2023)  

Photo credit: Andria Lo