We had the good fortune of connecting with Yong Takahashi and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Yong, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
I grew up in an immigrant household. On one hand, we are the biggest risk takers. We leave what we find familiar (family, language, culture, food) and travel thousands of miles to a country that we may have only read about. On the other hand, our parents drill into us that we have to follow rules – go to a prestigious university, get good grades, marry well, and carry on our pure bloodlines. At times, it is confusing and we don’t know which direction to choose. The path has not been clear to me most of my life. I tried to follow the breadcrumbs set before me but in the end I knew I was unhappy. Right before my 39th birthday, I decided to start writing. It took two years to get anything published. A decade later, I decided to quit my high paying job and write full-time. There have been times when I questioned my choice and wondered if I should go back to work. But then, I became a finalist in a novel contest. I didn’t win but the publisher offered a publishing contract. The payoff may have taken longer than I ever expected but I’d do it all over again.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I’m the author of RISING and THE ESCAPE to CANDYLAND. Both are available on Amazon. Rising is my debut collection of poetry where flashes of life’s most intimate moments are filled with love, hope, remorse, longing, and anguish. We root for the one who reaches for happiness but is not yet able to grasp it. We wince for the one who picks at festering wounds that never quite heal. We are breathless as we run alongside those who chase after a thirst that can never be quenched. The Escape to Candyland is my short story collection. The immigrants, preacher’s wives, strippers, and shopkeepers who pass each other on the street all have a secret story to tell. Caught between generations of family, regrets from their pasts, conflicting cultures, and even countries, each character has a reason to fiercely guard their secret lives, even as they learn that the truth must escape. Takahashi’s characters chase their American dreams down back alleys and campaign trails, stumbling under the weight of the gifts their families have given them. A box of Boraxo hand soap. Change for the vending machine. A stranger’s driver’s license. A mother’s love. The smallest exchange could prove kill or cure when you walk the streets of Candyland.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I’m a foodie so most of our time would be on a food crawl. We’d definitely start on Buford Highway and taste duck, Korean BBQ, hand-pulled noodles, and sushi. Then, we’d hit fried chicken, taco, and Pho joints all over town.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I’d like to thank all my friends who were my first readers and forever cheerleaders. They read the early drafts and still encouraged me.