To rescue all the plushies!

Kenny Loui Author Interview

Life Lessons from a UFO Catcher is a collection of stories and life lessons that you gained from your days in the local arcade and the people you met. What inspired you to write this book?

There were several inspirations for writing this book. First and foremost is my mother who once told me: “Your life is weird. You should write a book.” As the old saying goes, mother knows best. So I ended up writing a book. Whether it’s a good book or not, I’ll leave that to the readers to decide.

Second, the process of writing my doctoral dissertation was an indirect inspiration for me to write this book. My final year of grad school was spent either couped up in my room or in the library plugging away at my dissertation. The writing process was obviously not a 24/7 affair and I did take breaks every now and again. During those breaks from dissertation writing or number crunching my research data, I found myself typing, handwriting, and even doodling random stories and anecdotes from my life. Some of those random stories eventually became the basis for Life Lessons from a UFO Catcher. Random fun fact: The original working title for the book was Weird Things, echoing my mom’s comment that my life is “weird.”

Third, while I was living in Japan and South Korea, my favorite pastime was hanging out in arcades, mostly playing retro video games and of course, crane games—or as they’re referred to in Japan, “UFO catchers.” I actually got pretty good at them, and soon my newfound hobby became an obsession and life mission of sorts: To rescue all the plushies! This is a major reason why the setting of the story is an arcade.

Fourth, being an otaku—and proud of it!—and having grown up an avid viewer of Japanese anime and manga, I knew I wanted to take more of a creative approach to my memoir. So instead of just writing words on a page, I reached out to a friend of mine whose artistic skills far surpass mine, and we partnered up to create an autobiographical manga… although this book is only the first part of a multi-volume series that I have planned. There are more stories and life lessons to come!

Lastly, I had a desire to share with others some of the important lessons I learned in life, while encouraging others to reflect on the lessons learned from their own life experiences.

I appreciated the candid nature with which you told your story. What was the hardest thing for you to write about?

I identify as both a Christian and as a Buddhist, and as my pastor once told me, the two don’t have to be mutually exclusive. That being said, I obviously don’t know with 100% certainty if God is out there and what happens after we reach our end of days. Do we reincarnate? Do we become ghosts? Do we become star stuff? Do we go to heaven or hell… or somewhere else? Or do we simply cease to be? What I do believe in though is that things do happen for a reason, and that there are signs and omens in our lives that attempt to push us in the right direction or detour us from going the wrong way. The question is: Do we notice those signs, and if we do, do we follow them or ignore them?

To get to the point, the hardest thing for me to write about in this first volume of Life Lessons from a UFO Catcher wasn’t any particular story or lesson, but how to portray the signs in my life. In the end, I took some creative license for this memoir and chose to personify those signs and portents in the form of a guardian spirit named Somi who attempts to guide the main character in the right direction and steer him away from taking a course of action that he’d regret. However, as we can see in the story, Somi often fails in her mission… mostly in part to Kenny ignoring her.

Whether my guardian spirit is actually out there and if her name is indeed Somi, I don’t know. But I like to think that there’s someone or something watching over me.

What is one piece of advice someone gave you that changed your life?

I’ve received a lot of valuable advice from many different people when I was growing up. One that still sticks with me today is the focus of the lesson featured in the final story of the book, a Chinese proverb that my grandfather often told me: 忍得一时之氣,免得百日之忧, or in English, “If you are patient in one moment of anger, you will escape one-hundred days of sorrow.”

Needless to say, my hothead got me into a lot of trouble and regrettable situations in my younger days. The climax of Life Lessons from a UFO Catcher is a perfect example of that. Although there are still times when my blood will boil in certain situations, I do my best to remember my grandpa’s words and to remain calm and collected, using my logic and my heart, instead of my rage and my fists, to resolve conflicts.

What is one thing you hope readers take away from your story?

The entirety of the story, with the exception of the epilogue, takes place entirely in an arcade, and the lessons the protagonist learns come about from him playing those arcade crane games and his interactions with others in the arcade. It’s a fairly simplistic story, but with what I believe are some valuable life lessons that the protagonist shares through his inner monologue that can be attributable to various situations and circumstances, and that people from all walks of life can appreciate and connect with. I hope that readers will be able to connect with the life lessons I’ve learned—and I have many more to share in the next volume of Life Lessons from a UFO Catcher—while reflecting on the important lessons in their own lives.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

Kenny Loui is a Ph.D. student, university professor, and self-proclaimed “UFO Catcher.” This is the story of Kenny’s experiences playing arcade UFO catchers, “rescuing” cute plush dolls trapped inside claw machines, while “capturing” important life lessons along the way… Like Aesop’s Fables, but with a modern-day twist (and an awesome 80’s soundtrack)! Based on a true story.

This graphic novel collects all stories originally published in Life Lessons from a UFO Catcher #1-3 and features bonus content including extended scenes, an epilogue, BGM-enhanced stories, and character sketch art.

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 May 13, 2023, in Interviews and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.


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