Interview: Jackie Lau

Jackie Lau brings a background in engineering and geo-physics to her delightful rom-coms. Despite living in Canada her whole life, she hates winter. When she’s not writing, she enjoys cooking, hiking, eating too much gelato, and reading on the balcony when it’s raining.

Your seventh book, Ice Cream Lover (Baldwin Village Book 2), comes out on May 21, What was the inspiration for the story?

Ice Cream Lover (Baldwin Village Book 2) is the second book in my Baldwin Village series, which is a series of foodie rom-coms. Baldwin Village is a real place in Toronto, but this is a fictionalized version; all the businesses are of my own creation but are inspired by the diverse food scene in Toronto. The heroine in this book, Chloe, owns an ice cream shop called Ginger Scoops that specializes in Asian-inspired flavors. I love ice cream and go out for either ice cream or gelato every week, even in the winter. Ginger Scoops was inspired by two places in Toronto: Kekou Gelato and Wong’s Ice Cream (see author picture!), both of which specialize in Asian flavors.

Chloe is also biracial (Asian/white), like me. She’s not the first biracial heroine I’ve written, but the first one for which biracial identity is a big part of the story, and a lot of that part of the book is inspired by my own experiences. Like Chloe, my mother was Canadian-born Chinese, and also like Chloe, my mother died unexpectedly when I was in my twenties. Part of the story deals with Chloe’s grief, several years later, the experience of being third-generation Chinese Canadian, and also how the loss of her mother affected her identity and made her want to connect with her heritage.

What is the one place you would love to visit and why?

Oh boy. There are so many places I’d like to travel to, but I’d have to pick Hawaii for the scenery and beaches. Also, I have a geology background, and Hawaii has some pretty interesting geology. One day…

What is one book you could read over and over again?

I’m not a big re-reader, to be honest, because there are always so many new books to try! But I love Bridget Jones’s Diary: A Novel. I read it for the first time about ten years ago and multiple times since. Whenever I have trouble sleeping, I open to a random entry, and it always makes me smile.

Bridget Jones’s Diary: A Novel is also the book that finally encouraged me to start writing. I had always meant to write a novel, but then I read it and thought, “I could do that!” So when I first started writing, it was more chick lit/women’s fiction, but I’ve since shifted to contemporary romance.

If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

Perhaps, “Don’t bother trying to write what you think will sell well…because it won’t sell well anyway.”  I’m not sure. Jackie Lau is my second pen name. Under my first pen name, I have a number of romance novelettes, novellas, and short novels with several small publishers, and I was often conscious of things that I assumed would be hard sells for publishers, afraid to write too many POC characters, etc. But those books actually sold worse than my Jackie Lau books. I wish I hadn’t bothered trying to figure out what publishers would like, since I wasn’t very good at it anyway, and that I hadn’t been scared of self-publishing for so long.

So, younger self, self-publishing isn’t as terrifying as it sounds and won’t go as badly as you fear! Also, don’t cling to writing first drafts longhand and doing revisions on paper. You actually work better and more efficiently when you do everything on the computer. (Of course, this is different for everyone, but it took me a while to discover this about myself.)


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Blurb

I hate ice cream. Ever since my fiancée left me at the altar and skewered me in her bestseller “Embrace Your Inner Ice Cream Sandwich: Finding the Positive You in a World of Negativity,” I haven’t been able to stomach the stuff.

Unfortunately, my five-year-old niece is a budding foodie and her favorite place in the world is Ginger Scoops, a cutesy Asian ice cream shop. Since I’ve been looking after my niece a lot lately, I’ve spent too much time there, sipping black coffee, refusing to eat ice cream, and trying not to look at the owner, Chloe Jenkins. Chloe is obnoxiously cheerful, and I can’t stand her.

Naturally, I end up kissing her.

But I’ve sworn off women after the fiasco with my ex-fiancée, and I’m convinced I’m no good at relationships. Still, with Chloe I’m tempted to do the impossible: give love and ice cream another chance…

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