What Makes A “Good” Society

Judy Liu Author Interview

The Vending Portal has an intriguing setup to a novel that is high in social commentary. What was your moral goal when writing this novel, and do you feel you’ve achieved it?

I didn’t have a particular moral goal when formulating this novel, but you’re right in that there is social commentary weaved throughout. My goal was more to highlight certain aspects of our society and societies around our world and bring questions on what makes a “good” society to the forefront. I understand these are difficult questions and complicated topics (all of which I don’t have answers to!), so I wrote these into the novel in hopes of providing a light avenue for young adults to critically think and ponder while also being carried on an adventure with our young protagonists. 

I find the world you created in this novel brimming with possibilities. Where did the inspiration for the setting come from, and how did it change as you were writing?

It always excites me when readers like yourself tell me your thoughts about the world within The Vending Portal and the potential. I pulled my world-building inspiration from a variety of places: a recurring childhood dream, animations from studios like Studio Ghibli, my experience living in Japan years ago, anime series (some of which are quite ridiculous!), and my dabbling interest in aquariums. Overall, I was also inspired by other young adult adventures, like those of the Harry Potter series and the Narnia series. I created a few main tenants of how this world worked, and from there, things changed in terms of how certain instances react to each other and adding color and depth. I’m excited to continue building it out and discovering it myself as I write.

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

Some themes that were important for me within the book were not only the obvious one on a utopian/dystopian society and leadership, but also that of a hyphenated identity. Our main protagonists are Asian-Western; their home setting is quite inspired by Asia (particularly, the town I lived near in Japan years ago), and yet our characters are clearly some sort of Western, speaking English with very plain, western names. As an Asian-American myself, I wanted to craft a story that wasn’t just a nod to my roots and Asian, but more particularly, a nod to my experience (and many others within the diaspora across the world) as an Asian-American. The hyphenated identity is a unique space, shared by many around the world, and I want to help us feel more seen. 

To highlight that, I specifically wanted to explore the food and dinner scenes within the book. I’ve found that in my family’s household and in many other immigrant family households, food holds a significance, culturally and socially. It’s our connection to a culture as well as a way many families express affection and care. Hence, I wanted to have food scenes describing the food and with family, despite it potentially slowing the plot or seeming more slice-of-life. These were crucial to the theme. 

Is this the first book in the series? If so, when is the next book coming out, and what can your fans expect in the next story?

The Vending Portal is indeed the first book in a series! I’m planning for a trilogy, but already thinking about a companion novel as a prequel. Due to life getting busy and some personal challenges, the second book won’t be out in 2023, but I’m hoping for a late 2024 release at earliest! In the meantime, I have a few world expansion projects to write – in my preorder campaign to help me fund the book’s publication, I offered a world expansion package where I create a character with the person who orders it – and build a quick write up of this character interacting within the world of The Vending Portal. I’m pretty excited about these, and they’ll potentially be posted on my website should anyone want to learn more about the world outside the novel!

Author Links: GoodReads | Instagram | Website

Memory fades, but Reminserum is forever.

It’s just a normal day for Mel and Sage. They’re walking home from school, when they come upon a battered vending machine of mysterious snacks. While examining it, the sisters are whisked away to another dimension by the seemingly innocuous machine. They encounter advanced memory-enhancing technologies, a strange new government, and an ominous secret behind it all. Follow Mel and Sage as they discover friendships, unravel an unknown family history, and brave a multitude of hazards to save a society in a world that was never theirs.

Judy Liu’s debut novel is a passion project motivated by a desire to explore the concept of a “perfect” society. In it, she explores both the fantasies and the frightening possibilities that can exist in a world of any design. The Vending Portal is a lightly distorted, funhouse mirror to reflect the pitfalls of our own society, seen through the innocent eyes of two young protagonists.

About Literary Titan

The Literary Titan is an organization of professional editors, writers, and professors that have a passion for the written word. We review fiction and non-fiction books in many different genres, as well as conduct author interviews, and recognize talented authors with our Literary Book Award. We are privileged to work with so many creative authors around the globe.

Posted on February 8, 2023, in Interviews and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.


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