Are you ready to be one of the first to get an exclusive look at Joy Huang Clark’s next novel? The Balance Tips follows a 25-year-old New Yorker whose understanding of herself and her family changes after the family’s patriarch dies. We Are Bookish has an exclusive reveal of the cover, but first, read our mini-interview with the author.
Tell us about your book cover! What was the cover design process like for you?
Interlude Press guided me through the process, wowing me at each point. We began with a preliminary phone call, during which I spoke with Art Director C.B. Messer and Co-Publisher/Director of Marketing & Communications Candysse Miller. With themes and scenes from The Balance Tips in mind, we brainstormed cover ideas. We talked about the central characters of the Wu family, Chinese seals and chops, diabolos, ceramics, broken teapots, and clay (these are breadcrumbs, not spoilers!). CB created three mock-ups and then we discussed what especially resonated with us. My favorite mock-up centered on a blue and white diabolo; CB then moved the Wu family chop inside the diabolo and there it was—the final cover.
What inspired you to write The Balance Tips?
The Taiwanese people and greater Asian communities I grew up around. As an adult, I was able to parse oral traditions in my own Taiwanese family, and then compare those with other stories I had heard, other histories I’d read. I noticed patterns: pride in cultural traditions, intergenerational misunderstandings/miscommunication, the tension in the hyphen (Taiwanese-American or Taiwanese American?), and the conflict inherent in the desire to do right by family but also do right by self and others.
I also wanted to write a novel with Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw’s theory of intersectionality in mind, as intersectional feminism is important to me. And, on a personal note, I wasn’t out as queer or genderqueer when I began writing the book. Writing has always been a solace for me, an introspective way of processing. In hindsight, I needed to write about queerness on the page before I felt safe to proclaim my own aloud.
In three words, what can readers expect from The Balance Tips?
Earthquakes; queerness; reckonings.
Do you judge books by their covers? What’s your favorite cover of all-time?
At first glance I do, but then I remind myself to read the book blurb because I’m first and foremost a word nerd. In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado has a haunting, layered cover that immediately seized my attention and hinted at the memoir’s contents.
What books do you recommend we pick up while we wait for The Balance Tips to hit shelves on October 5?
A distilled list of books that memory still holds dear: The Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Girlhood Among Ghosts by Maxine Hong Kingston, Rolling the R’s by R. Zamora Linmark, Skin Folk by Nalo Hopkinson, In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado, Abandon Me: Memoirs by Melissa Febos, Songs of Willow Frost by Jamie Ford, The Hour of the Star by Clarice Lispector, Bloodchild and Other Stories by Octavia E. Butler, Songs of the Dragons Flying to Heaven and Other Plays by Young Jean Lee, and The America Play and Other Works by Suzan-Lori Parks.
Now, let’s get our first peek at The Balance Tips!
Here’s the official summary for The Balance Tips:
Fay Wu Goodson is a 25-year-old queer, multiracial woman who documents the identity journeys of other New Yorkers. She finds her videography work meaningful, but more importantly, it distracts her from investigating the challenges of her own life and keeps relationships at a distance. When the family’s Taiwanese patriarch dies, Fay’s Asian grandmother moves to America; and Fay, her mother, and her aunt learn unsettling truths about their family and each other. They must decide to finally confront themselves, or let their pasts destroy everything each woman has dreamed of and worked for.
An unconventional story of an Asian-American matriarchy, The Balance Tips pieces together the personal histories of the Wu family and sisters Jia and Hua in an exploration of family, sexual identity, racism, and the internal struggles that hinge on East Asian culture. Written in multiple literary styles, it pays homage to fluidity, complex ontologies, and ultimately finds strength in vulnerability and that hope opens pathways to reconciliation.
Joy Huang Clark (neé Stoffers) was raised in New Jersey by a Taiwanese mother and a White father. She holds a BA in English from Rutgers University and an MA in Creative Writing from Newcastle University in the United Kingdom. Whasian (Harken Media, 2015) was her debut novel. Huang Clark’s second novel, The Balance Tips, is slated for release in 2021 (Interlude Press). Her writing has been featured in The Shanghai Literary Review, The Black Scholar, and Side B Magazine.