My Interview with Indie Reader Discovery Awards

The LoveLock was the winner in the New Adult category of the 2019 IndieReader Discovery Awards, where undiscovered talent meets people with the power to make a difference.

What is the name of the book and when was it published?

The title of the book is The LoveLock by Eichin Chang-Lim, which was published on April 29, 2018.

What’s the book’s first line?

“Hey, Cheetos,” Dylan said, calling her by the nickname that always made her toes curl.

What’s the book about? Give us the “pitch”. 

The LoveLock is a suspenseful and gripping love story.

Life changes on a dime. Few understand this painful truth quite like Violet and Dylan, former college sweethearts united by their tormented childhoods.

A brutal tragedy rips them apart just days before their wedding. Though they go their separate ways, they remain connected by a meaningful token: a locket, which Dylan bestows upon Violet on a blissful day by a gorgeous beach in Coronado, California—to which he holds the key.

This lovelock remains to be their only connection as they struggle to rebuild their lives. Violet, an aspiring actress, grapples with mental illness and ends up stripping for a living. In the meantime, Dylan faces his own challenges while trying to manage his past trauma with an unknown future. They each venture down their own dark paths laced with drugs and manipulative, taxing characters. All the while, neither can shake off their longing for the love they once shared and cherished.

In spite of life’s impediments, can they heal their past and find happiness alone or together?

What inspired you to write the book? A particular person? An event?

The central theme of The LoveLock revolves around mental illness; there are scenes depicting the relentless pain of depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) that the main characters are trapped within.

The idea of writing a book pertinent to depression and mental illness has been germinating in me for a long time—I would say even since before my first book, Love, A Tangled Knot (the first edition was titled Tough Scratch-Love, the Tangled Knot). I put this book project on the backburner because I was not ready to toil with such a vexing subject at the time.

If you ask whether I’ve injected personal experience into the storyline, the answer is “Yes.” Mental pain is no stranger to me. For years, I blamed myself for my son’s genetic disorders and his deafness. (As illogical as it may sound, I was drawn in that whirl of remorse for quite a few years.) With that, I experienced a few episodes of depression. Moreover, through the years as a health care provider, I’ve encountered an increasing number of patients who are taking anti-depressants and enduring various kinds of mental stresses.

Mental illness is a silent yet devastating condition. It hurts immensely, yet the wound is invisible. The pain is palpable; however, it’s indescribable most of the time. Often, people feel ashamed and uncomfortable revealing their inner torments to others for fear of being misjudged.

I wrote this book by reflecting on my personal journey and the journey of those whom I’ve encountered who were also battling with life’s hardships.

What’s the most distinctive thing about the main character? Who-real or fictional-would you say the character reminds you of?

The main characters are two broken, wounded people.

Childhood trauma and loss bind together the two main characters, Violet and Dylan. After years of being apart, as each family suffers grief, they reunite as young lovers in college. However, a horrendous calamity tears them apart right before their wedding. Violet sinks into severe mental illness, becomes a drug-addicted stripper, and is suicidal. Dylan is stuck in a demanding relationship, has to face the difficult decision of being dutiful versus pursuing his happiness, in the meantime fighting with his inner demon. The relentless guilt plagues them as each attempt to rebuild their lives and move forward. In every sense, they are the victim of unfortunate events; life is brutally unfair to them. Nevertheless, love and hope sustain them.

At the beginning of the book, I quoted two talented writers and poets who are eminent in the literature arena. Please allow me to reiterate here.

“The world wavered and quivered and threatened to burst into flames.” —Virginia Woolf.

“I wanted to tell her that if only something were wrong with my body, it would be fine, I would rather have anything wrong with my body than something wrong with my head, but the idea seemed so involved and wearisome that I didn’t say anything. I only burrowed down further in the bed.” —Sylvia Plath

Both Woolf and Plath eventually ended their lives. What a tragedy!

It’s my desire to write a story about the affliction of mental illness and how to find hope and strength to defeat the haunting inner strife and long lamented pain. A triumph after a long struggle is comparable to a small larva wrapped in a dark cocoon, which undergoes a gruesome metamorphosis, breaks through the chrysalis, and transforms into a majestic butterfly spreading its wings and flying.

What’s the main reason someone should really read this book?

To say it in one sentence: this book is for those who are searching for an unforgettable love, a thrill of suspense, and a healthy dose of inspiration.

The message I want to convey to my readers is as follows:

In the journey of our lives, we may find ourselves traveling in dark, stormy nights. We may slip or fall a few times while attempting to steady our steps on the muddy road. It’s OK to cry when it feels like the gloomy nights last forever. The pain is like a sharp knife slicing through our hearts and leaving us with nothing to hang on to. Yes, there are moments when the thought of death may sneak into our minds and convince us that it is the only way out.

Do not despair, my friends. There are purposes installed in everyone’s precious life. Even though it’s hard to see it in the midst of turmoil, there is hope and love around us.  Have faith!

If they made your book into a movie,  who would you like to see play the main character(s)?

Jennifer Lawrence would play Violet Swanson.

Liam Hemsworth would play Dylan Purcell.

George Clooney would play Aidan Swanson.

Tom Cruise or Leonardo DiCaprio would play Gordon Purcell.

Catherine Zeta-Jones would play Wanda Swanson.

When did you first decide to become an author?

It’s an interesting journey, I would say.

I wanted to be a writer when I was in elementary school. I even submitted several short stories and essays to youth magazines, and they were accepted and published. Of course, they were written in Chinese back home. (I was born in Taiwan and came to the USA for graduate school via a student visa in my early twenties.) In junior high, I submitted some more articles and stories; they were ruthlessly rejected. My confidence was shattered; I started to doubt my writing ability. At the same time, I found interests in other areas of study. So, the idea of being a writer faded, and I gradually evolved my studies to science and healthcare.

After years as an optometrist, I realized that every person is a unique individual, and every soul is precious. I know this sounds clichéd. However, that’s my conviction. I really appreciate that my patients allow me to look into their eyes, “the windows to the soul.” (Again, a cliché!) I believe that there are stories in every single person. Listening to my patients fuels the inspiration for my stories.

The urge to tell stories prompted me to become an author eight years ago. My novels are a collection of stories I have heard and about the people I have met. Of course, I inject them with personal experience and research for certain plots to make the story real.

Is there something in particular that motivates you?

To tell stories within me motivates me to write. There are messages I desperately want to share. Therefore, I write in an easy-to-read style, and the main characters are everyday people to whom the readers can relate one way or another. There are scenes that readers can even resonate.

Romance and inspirational books are my niche genres. It’s my vision to use “romance” as a vehicle to draw out a true love story. Eventually, it evolves into an inspirational and thought-provoking tale. I’ve asked myself countless times while I work on my manuscript, either fiction or nonfiction, “What is true love?”  Readers may discover that I tend to tell stories beyond the confines of romance. I strive to convey the kind of love that is much broader and more profound than romantic or physical love. It’s my conviction that love is more than a four-letter word. Instead, it’s multi-dimensional.

As a romance and inspirational author, I write with my heart and soul. My philosophy is this: if my story can make a difference in even one person’s life, it’s all worth it. Moreover, that’s what love is all about, and that’s the driving force that motivates me to write.

Which writer, living or dead, do you most admire?

I read across various genres, and my opinion about my most admired author changes from time to time. If I had to pick one at this very moment, I would say Kazuo Ishiguro. Ishiguro is a remarkable writer with a unique writing style; many of his books depict the irony of humanity. Within a deep sense of melancholy, he infuses a good dose of inspiration.

The LoveLock is available on Amazon.