Phillip Y. Kim has worked for over 25 years in the finance industry at companies such as Lehman Brothers and Morgan Stanley. He has spent most of his career in Asia and continues to live and work in Hong Kong.
Nothing Gained, published by Penguin China this month, is his first novel. Set amid the global financial crisis, the novel crisscrosses between Asia and Europe to wield a tale of multimillion dollar investments, insider secrets and material gluttony.
Why I write
I am now simply compelled to do so. Over the past 25 years as an investment banker, the accumulation of ideas and life experiences has become overwhelming. Writing seems to be the best way for me to give them release.
Do you write every day? If so, how many hours? Or do you work to a daily word count?
Because I still do banking-related work, I don’t have a regular writing schedule. I try to get down at least 1,000 words a day, whenever I can manage the time.
Where do you write? Describe the physical domain of your writing space…
Mainly in my home office where I’ve got a large computer monitor. Or on airplanes, where there are relatively few distractions.
Worst source of distraction?
Ah, so many! The wine fridge, the snack cabinet… But definitely, the worst is the Internet and its universe of content.
Best source of inspiration?
Other people’s creativity. It could be a song, a movie or TV show, a plate of pasta, or a piece of writing. Also, fear of failure!
How often do you get writers’ block / doubt your own ability?
Touch wood, I have not yet experienced writers’ block. As for self-doubt, frequently. I tell myself that doubt is good. But it’s often a fine line between being a source of motivation or a reason to want to chuck it all!
Contemporary writer in any medium who you never miss?
Novelists, Haruki Murakami and Gillian Flynn. Non-fiction writer, Michael Lewis. Columnists, Joel Stein of Time magazine and Maureen Dowd of The New York Times.
It’s impossible to name one. There are so many genres and so many reasons to enjoy reading.
Hemingway. He re-defined how to write a captivating sentence.
The book you should have read but haven’t?
Ulysses, by James Joyce. However, I never had the requisite two years to learn another language…
You look back at the first thing you had published and think…
I wonder who was the greater fool – the publisher, the reader or me!
How did you get started writing?
My first serious long-form writing project is my novel Nothing Gained. It’s a dangerous way to dive into a writing career. However, the story was an idea that came with a relentless urging. Within a month afterwards, I was beavering away at the first chapter.
Does writing change anything?
Sometimes, it changes nothing other than promoting a further examination of life’s unanswerable questions. But at other times, writing, like education, can change everything.
What are you working on now and when is it out?
I am working on the prequel to Nothing Gained. I hope to have a first draft circulated to publishers late this year so that they can tell me whether it is publishable!
An audio interview with Phillip Kim about the novel is available on Shanghaiist.
Posted: Monday, March 11, 2013