Hello folks! I’m happy to share my first ever author interview today!
David Lui is a writer based in Hong Kong. He is currently studying for his Master’s degree in counseling, and he is committed to fighting modern slavery and human trafficking. He also works for an anti-slavery initiative called 852 Freedom Campaign as a a videographer. You can visit his website to learn more about him!
I recently read a review copy of Lui’s new novella, When Hope Calls. In the book, a human rights worker receives a call from a young girl in Bangkok who has been kidnapped. He then receives numerous phone calls from her throughout the day, each time learning more and more information that might help him and his team find her. You can find a more detailed synopsis and my review of When Hope Calls here.
And without further ado, onto the interview!
What sort of research did you do to write When Hope Calls?
Because my novella didn’t deal a lot with the intricacies of the human trafficking industry, I did not have to do a gargantuan amount of research. It was the little things that mattered the most to me; finding the right name for the victim, the personnel commonly found in an NGO office (including their titles), street and mall names in Bangkok, etc. The most intensive research I did was on the street names; I actually plotted out a possible route that the kidnappers could take from Myanmar to Thailand. I Googled all the major place names along the highways, eventually finding a place known for its sunflower fields. Needless to say, I was elated.
What was the most surprising thing you learned while writing your book?
Definitely, the helplessness that characterized the real story. Mine is a dramatized version of the event; it was heartbreaking for me to realize that, in real life, all the staff could do was wait in the office for each call. There was no action, no relief, just disappointment after disappointment.
Why did you choose to write about the difficult topic of human trafficking?
This topic has always been a burden of mine, ever since high school. I had never intended to write about it though. It wasn’t until reading Matt Friedman’s book Where Were You? that I had a strong urge to elaborate on this true story, partly because it so vividly portrayed an aspect of humanitarian work that I had rarely encountered – that of failure and futility. And as I began to develop the characters, they came alive, and I realized that I had to dedicate the book to the countless front-line workers who face such dark realities on a daily basis. One of my main intentions was to grant a voice to those who are suffering – both victims and rescuers.
What is the main thing you want readers to take away from your book?
You can make a difference. Changing the world is not this enormous, difficult task that you must meticulously plan for; it’s about the small things, the daily, trivial things. If you have a domestic helper, treat them better (better yet, befriend them!). If you see homeless people around your neighborhood, talk with them and offer help (even bringing them to an NGO can make a world of difference). In the words of Albert Einstein, “The world is a dangerous place to live; not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don’t do anything about it.” I know it is daunting to think about stopping human trafficking; two years ago, I was in the same position as you are. But if you are willing, and make a tiny effort in the right direction, opportunities will soon present themselves. I know that I cannot live a ‘normal’ life knowing what trafficking victims are going through.
What was the hardest part about writing When Hope Calls?
The ending! What a depressing way to end this burden of love. I debated whether to change it to instill hope in the readers, but…nothing jars the conscience as much as a tragic ending. It was also incredibly hard to write from the perspective of Mya because I had absolutely no point of reference to develop such a character.
What do you do in your free time when you aren’t writing?
I am a Jack of all trades. At the moment, I am studying for my Master’s degree in Counseling, working on novels, writing an undergraduate psychology course, and doing video-editing work for an anti-trafficking campaign (852 Freedom Campaign). I’m also a huge movie buff, which inspires much of my writing.
What are your top 3 favorite books of all time?
Les Miserables, A Tale of Two Cities, and The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. I’m in love with the classics.
What’s next? Will we see more writing from you in the future?
Yes, I hope so! Currently working on a novella about a broken family. Then a dystopian novel based on a nightmare. And two trilogies (six books in total). As you can tell, I really, really need beta readers! If you want to know about upcoming books and win some signed books (maybe even be a beta reader), subscribe to my newsletter here.
Thank you so much, David Lui, for your time and for sharing your process with us! If you’re interested in reading When Hope Calls, click the cover image below! And don’t forget to check out David Lui’s website for more information!