Love and Other Moods is a coming-of-age story set in contemporary China, about falling in love, learning to adult, discovering strength and finding one’s place in the world. Naomi Kita-Fan uproots her life from New York to China when her fiancé’s company transfers him to Shanghai. After a disastrous turn of events, Naomi finds herself with no job, no boyfriend, and nowhere to live in a foreign country. Amidst the backdrop of Shanghai welcoming millions of workers and visitors to the 2010 World Expo, we meet a tapestry of characters through Naomi: Joss Kong, a Shanghai socialite who leads an enviable life, but must harbor the secrets of her husband, Tay Kai Tang. Logan Hayden, a womanizing restaurateur looking for love in all the wrong places. Pan Jinsung and Ouyang Zhangjie, a silver-aged couple struggling with adapting to the ever-changing faces of their city. Dante Ouyang, who had just returned to China after spending years overseas, must choose between being filial and being in love. All their dreams and aspirations interweave within the sprawling web of Shanghai. This multilayered novel explores a kaleidoscope of shifting relationships — familial friction, amorous entanglements, volatile friendships — in one of the most dynamic metropolises of the twenty-first century.
Love and Other Moods
by Crystal Z. Lee
Category: Adult Fiction (18 +), 18 yrs +,
Length: 322 pages
Genre: New Adult, Own Voices, Multicultural Romance
Publisher: Balestier ( December 2020 )
Content Rating: PG + M for drugs (only two pages), suggested sex scenes (nothing explicit), some triggers (assault)
Crystal Z. Lee is a Taiwanese American bilingual writer. She has called many places home, including Taipei, New York, Shanghai, and the San Francisco Bay Area. She was formerly a public relations executive who had worked with brands in the fashion, beauty, technology, and automotive industries. ‘Love and Other Moods’ is her debut novel.
Interview with Crystal Z. Lee
A wonderful interview below with Lee that will answer so many questions and thank you Crystal Lee for answering all our questions! Much Love!
Love and Other Moods is based in Shanghai, a city you had once lived and worked at. What’s your favorite thing about Shanghai?
I love that Shanghai is a city of contrasts. You can see its history and modernity coexisting everywhere in that metropolis. There are ancient temples right alongside skyscrapers, traditional food stalls outside of fancy restaurants. It’s a city that attracts people from every walk of life, from all corners of the globe.
There are many, many delicious Chinese dishes mentioned in your novel. Do you have a favorite?
In Love and Other Moods, one of the characters is a magazine food editor, one is a restaurant and bar owner, and one cooks as a hobby. Naturally there are many gourmet meal scenes in the book! Here is a sampling of some of the dishes that appear in the novel: Shanghainese truffle-flavored xiao long bao dumplings, Chongqing style liangfen spicy noodles, glutinous zongzi rice stuffed in bamboo leaves, lotus root pork bone broth, sticky niangao rice, Taiwanese oyster pancake, Peking duck and hairy crab. My favorite would be xiao long bao dumplings!
A favorite scene you enjoyed writing?
Chinese New Year is probably the most significant holiday in the Chinese-speaking world. In Love and Other Moods, there is a whole chapter that takes place in Nanjing and Shanghai during Chinese New Year, where some major developments happen to the characters. I relished writing this scene, and not just because it’s full of drama. I also enjoyed sharing all the cultural details of this holiday!
Which films do you think readers of Love and Other Moods would enjoy?
I’ve been told by some of my readers that the mood of my book evokes the following titles: The Farewell meets Lost In Translation meets Already Tomorrow in Hong Kong. Another reader said it was like an Asian version of Emily In Paris and The Devil Wears Prada, but set in Shanghai. I’m grateful for these comparisons because I’m a fan of all of these visual stories, especially the film Already Tomorrow in Hong Kong.
An author who has influenced your writing?
Chinese author Eileen Chang. Eileen Chang would’ve turned 100 years old in 2020. She is one of the most influential Chinese writers of the last century. Although her tales transport you to the 30s and 40s era of Shanghai and Hong Kong, her stories are still immensely relevant for every type of reader today. Maybe because aspects of her life are relatable for many: she was from a broken family, she came-of-age in a politically turbulent time, she suffered debilitating illnesses and was quarantined for awhile, and later, she was a refugee and immigrant. It’s fitting that one character in her Chinese name is “Love,” because she was a keen observer of romance. Under her pen, Shanghai and Hong Kong became an amorous playground, and at times a battlefield, for those searching for love, which is all of us. In Love and Other Moods, I included one of my favorite Eileen Chang quotes:
“You meet the one…amongst thousands and tens of thousands of people, amidst thousands and tens of thousands of years, in the boundless wilderness of time, not a step sooner, not a step later.”
What would be the playlist for Love and Other Moods?
In Love and Other Moods, there are numerous references to songs or musicians that set the tone of the story. This is the playlist I’d put together for the book:
– “Plastic Love” by Japanese singer Mariya Takeuchi
– “Memory Loss” by Malaysian musician Fish Leong
– “A Waltz For a Night” by French-American singer and actress Julie Delpy
– “Windows to the City” by Taiwanese singer Angela Chang
– “Flooded” by Hong Kong singer Jacky Cheung
– “Shanghai Nights” by Chinese singer Zhou Xuan
– “City of Heartbreak ‘n Horror” album by Beijing band Rustic
– “Rhapsody in Blue” by George Gershwin
– “City of Blinding Lights” by U2
There are many cities and locations outside of China mentioned in Love and Other Moods. What are some of them, and do you have a favorite city?
The majority of the settings in my novel is in Shanghai. However my characters also travel to a wide range of destinations. Here are some of them:
– Albrecht statue in Vienna
– Osaka Castle in Japan
– Paphos in Cyprus
– Houhai Lake in Beijing
– Broken Bridge in Hangzhou
– Legion of Honor in San Francisco
– Shifen and Pingxi in Taiwan
– East Village in New York
– Yebisu Garden Place in Tokyo, Japan
My favorite cities in the world besides Shanghai: Taipei, Venice, Singapore.
What are some books set in China that you would recommend?
Here are some fiction and non-fiction books set in China that I had enjoyed!
– Remembering Shanghai by Isabel Sun Chao and Claire Chao
– Spa Girl by Virginia Gray
– Shanghai Style by Lynn Pan
– South China Morning Blues by Ray Hecht
– Foreign Babes in Beijing by Rachel DeWoskin
– Bury What We Cannot Take by Kirsten Chen
– Above sea: Contemporary art, urban culture, and the fashioning of global Shanghai by Jenny Lin
What are some of your favorite films set in China?
– Us and Them
– Lust, Caution
– The Painted Veil
– Suzhou River
– Finding Mr. Right (also known as Beijing Meets Seattle)
Why did you decide to write the story in multiple third-person point-of-views?
I struggled whether to write the novel this way, but ultimately I wanted this book to mirror a city, with viewpoints from the multitude of characters you would meet in a sprawling metropolis. Therefore, in Love and Other Moods, there are POVs from the expats, the Shanghainese socialites, the corporate executives, the working class, the entrepreneurs, the doorman, the maid, the millennials, the aging parents. To me, all of their perspectives are essential to the story, and is what makes a city like Shanghai come alive.
What do you hope readers will gain from reading your novel?
Although Love and Other Moods is billed as a Romance read–and there are many romantic moments in the book–there are also the more serious issues which many of us experience, particularly as women of color, such as racism and sexism.
Growing up, I adored reading rom-coms, but often felt I couldn’t relate, because the characters didn’t seem to endure some of the same issues I faced.
In writing this book, one of my greatest hopes is that some of my readers will feel less alone in their struggles, and feel more seen and heard.
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