Wednesday, December 20, 2023

Chris McKinney

Chris McKinney was born and raised in Hawaiʻi, on the island of Oahu. He has written nine novels, including The Tattoo and The Queen of Tears, a coauthored memoir, and the screenplays for two feature films and two short films. He is the winner of the Elliott Cades Award and seven Kapalapala Poʻokela Awards and has been appointed Visiting Distinguished Writer at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa.

McKinney's new novel is Sunset, Water City, Book 3 of the Water City Trilogy.

Recently I asked the author about what he was reading. His reply:
I just finished reading Yellowface by R.F. Kuang and loved it. It’s the perfect example of how important original story concept is. Imagine pitching this: Two young writers, one, Asian, a superstar, the other, white, floundering, are friends from college. When a drunk Athena Liu dies while eating pancakes, June Hayward steals her manuscript and successfully sells it as her own. Only, the book is about Chinese laborers in Europe during WWI, and fanatical social media sleuths are discovering holes. This satirical novel searingly targets publishing, fandom, racial appropriation, cancel culture, and the toxicity of the internet. What a great story idea. It’s one of those instances of “I wish I thought of that first.”

Kinfolk by Sean Dietrich is the book I read right before Yellowface, and boy, is it different. Set in 1970’s Alabama, its main character, Nub Taylor, is one of those ne’er-do-well old man characters who has been making the wrong decisions his entire life and is finally trying make amends. It’s the type of character that Richard Russo perfected in the late 90’s, and I’m all for it. Kinfolk, with its colorful characters and petty feuds, is rural, American smalltown fiction at its best.
Visit Chris McKinney's website.

The Page 69 Test: Sunset, Water City.

Q&A with Chris McKinney.

My Book, The Movie: Sunset, Water City.

--Marshal Zeringue