5 from 35: Author Q & A with Mike Chen


Mike Chen, 40, published his first novel, Here and Now and Then in January, 2019.

How long did it take you to write your first (published) book, start to finish?

From first draft to signing with my agent, it took about 1.5 years. During that time, there was one major revise & resubmit. When I was on submission, I had one major R&R and one small one that was probably about 3 months of work. And after it sold, my editor had one major revision (after I consolidated what she liked from the R&R versions) and that was about one intense month of work.

What kind of work did you do to earn money while writing your first book?

I have a day job to support my family. Given the cost of living in Silicon Valley, the
odds of quitting that day job to write full time are pretty slim, even if your spouse is
working. So there was a lot of writing around working.

Did you ever want to quit? If yes, what kept you going? If no, what kept you going?

I don’t think I’ve come close to quitting yet, though I felt strongly enough about
HERE AND NOW AND THEN that I explored self-publishing avenues while I was
querying. While on submission, though, I did hit a point of wanting to pull it after the
18-month mark and four deaths-at-acquisitions (basically, the creative people loved
it and the business people didn’t know what to do with it). My agent wanted to give
it one more round and he got a really good feeling with Mira Books editor Michelle
Meade. The rest is history.

What’s your biggest source of encouragement?

It’s not so much encouragement as it is compulsion. I have these ideas that just want
to come out in some fashion, and combine that with a pretty diligent work ethic and
a fear of failure, well, that kind of sums it up. My agent actually tells me to take more
breaks. 🙂

What are you reading right now?

As I write this in mid-November, I’m reading Blackfish City by Sam J. Miller. The last
book I read before that was Star Wars: Thrawn – Alliances by Timothy Zahn. I
probably only read 8-10 books a year on average because having a young child just
isn’t conducive to the whole leisure time thing.