Los Altos resident Kathy Wang’s new book, “Family Trust,” is a Silicon Valley story of how wealth can complicate family values in the time of death. The dramatic novel uses humor to tackle the subjects of gender, race, family and wealth relations.
Released Oct. 30 by HarperCollins Publishers, the book isn’t based on true events, but it’s influenced by the world Wang has lived in.
“I had a general obsession over a few concepts – career, the Asian-American experience, how your expectations change as you grow older,” she said. “They rattled around in my head for some time. When I began writing, they all came out in some form or another.”
Wang described “Family Trust” as a fictional experience in a world that’s real, and one she knows well. The mother of two has worked at tech companies that include Seagate Technology and Intel.
The author said one of her mental mantras while writing was luck. She explained this through the tale that many are told in their youth: Work hard in high school, get accepted into a college and enter the work world.
“But life is divergent for reasons that are not under your control,” she said. “Maybe you’ve done everything you’re supposed to do and it’s just not working out for you.”
That’s where luck comes in. Wang, whose background is in product management, is now managing her own product – a novel – after signing a book deal in July. Wang had never written a book before, but she was able to get her work to the right agent, who found her a publisher.
Wang described her process as a series of tedious rewrites of the same paragraphs and sentences, all to get a reaction from readers.
“It’s so funny, because in the corporate world you can perfect a PowerPoint, but no one’s going to see it but your boss,” she said. “Writing is such a solitary activity – it’s a lot of work without validation. ... There were so many times when I thought I could just stop this and have so much (time) left in my life to do other things. You have to force yourself to keep going and keep yourself motivated.”
Wang added that she didn’t show her work to anyone until the book was complete.
Steps to publication
She finished her manuscript in July while another delivery was on its way – her daughter. She described her manuscript as her baby as well.
The next step was delivering the book to a publisher. It began with a hunt for an agent, which required sending out several book proposals.
She signed with Michelle Brower, who landed Wang a two-book deal with HarperCollins, which helps cover production, distribution and marketing costs.
After the book was released, Wang braced for the criticism that often comes in the form of reviews. Writing about a wealthy Asian-American family has garnered an array of reaction on the subject. When Wang handed in her manuscript for its first read, she recalled receiving a comment that no one would buy the book because Asians are money obsessed.
“For me, it was a very surprising feedback to get,” she said. “As an Asian-American, you’re taught that having money and being successful is the only way to equalize the playing field. When people are racist, you’re not supposed to fight back, you’re just supposed to try to be successful and get enough money so that no one can ever really hurt you or harm you.”
As for her next book, Wang hasn’t started on that yet. She is busy juggling her high-tech career (she recently returned to work part time) with caring for her two children.
“Family Trust” is available online at amazon.com and locally at Linden Tree Books in Los Altos and Books Inc. in Mountain View. Both stores have signed copies.