defining the fil-am identity with lauren lola

To close out Asian Pacific American Heritage Month – in a last but certainly not the least feature for this month – asienne spoke with Bay Area-based “super” writer Lauren Lola; super as in she not only writes books, she also writes blogs, articles, plays and screenplays! This is the first of two creative profiles for the Asian writer’s series specifically for APAHM.

5Name: Lauren Lola

Field: Writer (Author, Blogger, Playwright, Screenwriter)

Known for: A Moment’s WorthAn Absolute Mindwritten contributions in various corners of the Internet such as for Kollaboration, YOMYOMF, Multiracial Media, etc.

Star Sign: Aquarius

Motto: Do it! Don’t just say you’ll do it. Actually DO IT!

Links: Ko-FiTwitter | InstagramBlog | AmazonWorks | About

In your own words, how would you describe Filipino-American?

Oh boy. I would describe it as a community with a long nuanced history.

You’ve talked a lot about identity in your blogs and instagram posts. How would you describe what your personal journey has been like in finding yourself in your identity as a Fil-Am?

It’s tricky because I’m mixed-race on top of being Filipino-American in a predominantly white household. There’s a lot of family history that my dad was not all about so, I didn’t really grow up with a lot of Filipino customs.

It really wasn’t until I became a teenager and an adult when I started to explore that side of my heritage in my own terms that I started to understand it more and become more accustomed with identifying as Filipino-American; and I think that’s something that’s going to be on-going for the rest of my life.

Do you mind expanding on that just a bit?

My dad is Filipino. He’s mixed-race as well. My mom is full white and my dad is mixed as well. His parents–his father was from the Philippines and his mom is Irish-American. They got married in 1959 when anti-interracial laws no longer existed in California at the time. I’m basically a second generation mixed-race kid.

What is the importance of representation for you in terms of general pop culture–considering you’re involved in many fandoms but especially Star Wars, for example?

By finding more and accurate representation, it legitimizes one’s existence.

I would think that’s the main reason why the fight for and to improve diversity is all about.

Growing up, you know, you don’t see yourself on TV – you don’t see experiences like yours on TV – depending on what it is you’re watching. But for the most part, it’s been very, very white and very male. But I think we’re starting to get better. And I think it can only go up from here.

1.pngTell us about your books. Where do you draw inspiration from?

A Moment’s Worth is my debut novel. It’s a standalone. It came out – it’ll be five years since it came out in July. It’s more thematically driven that plot driven. It’s very much literary fiction. It’s about how we’re all connected; the fine line between what’s real and what could be a dream. It’s about the value of what could occur in a moment in time.

An Absolute Mind – This is my second novel which came out in 2016. It’s set in the future and it follows a college student who finds out this crazy mental ability called absolute memory. Unfortunately, she’s targeted by underground gangs and so she’s taken away to a safe island for her safety. While there, everyone comes together to take action to this lack of action.

Is this also a standalone?

It was. Until this past year, I realized I’m going to make this into a trilogy. An Absolute Mind is the first of a trilogy in formation.

From my book reading of “An Absolute Mind” at Arkipelago Books in San Francisco in July 2017.” – Lauren Lola

What’s the most you can tell us about the third book?

I’m working on it right now (laughs).

It’ll be my third overall novel but the second of the trilogy that I’m working on. I’m not going to say too much about the plot, although I will say that it’s set four years after what happens on the first novel and it’s centered on the character.

Is there a name for the series yet?

I think I might have a series name but it’s not finalized right now.

Did you lend bits and pieces of your personal life of your life to these characters or are they just fantasy and fiction?

Maybe more so on the first one. I think that’s on some degree more personal because it’s my first one and if you read it, it’s kind of like similar to The Joy Luck Club where each chapter is kind of its own standalone short story, but as a whole you see that it’s all connected. There’s definitely more bits and pieces of me in that one as opposed to my second novel.

Lauren with her friend Cameron.

What do you hope are people’s takeaways whenever they read a piece of your writing whether that’s your blog or one of your books?

Oh that is a very large question (laughs).

It kind of depends. I think from my novels – that you’d take away the message that I intended to and purposefully incorporated into them.

As for literally anything else I write, I hope that you would take away the perspective and general message on what it is I’m writing about.

Is there a dream project you’d like to produce or write? A dream writer or author you want to collab with? A script writer?

Ooh. I like this question (laughs) I really like this question (laughs)!

Lauren pictured with actress Tamlyn Tomita.

Yeah, there’s definitely these dream collabs that I would love to do and I don’t really get to vocalize them that often because 1) no one ever asks and 2) sometimes I don’t think it’s going to happen.

One thing I would like to do is collaborate with Wong Fu Productions on writing a short film. I’ve been following them since I was in college and every year and every other year they’ll release that one short film and I’ll think ‘I’m really digging this one’.

So, it would be cool to write a short film and make it a reality; plus the co-founders of Wong Fu are from the Bay Area, so there’s a connection there.

There are other collaborations I’d like to do but that one is a main one that I’d really like to make happen.

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