James Sie was born and raised in New Jersey, the son of immigrant parents. He attended Northwestern University and lived in Chicago for many years, working as an actor and an award-winning playwright of literary adaptations. In addition to writing, Sie can currently be heard as a voiceover artist in animation. He lives in Los Angeles with his husband and son. Visit his website at www.sieworld.com.
Voyage: What was the inspiration behind your novel, All Kinds of Other? What made you want to tell this story?
James Sie: An old friend from my theater days in Chicago asked if he and his son could stay with my family for a few days while he found a place to live in Los Angeles. He was going to try his luck as an actor for six months, and his son, who the year before had come out as trans, was going to use the opportunity to experience what it would be like to go to a high school where no one knew him as anything but a boy. And for some reason, the play As You Like It leapt into my head, where Rosalind is dressed as a boy, Ganymede, and meets Orlando in Arcadia. And I thought, What if Orlando fell in love with Ganymede, not Rosalind? And, instead of a forest, they meet in a Los Angeles high school? And that’s how the story of All Kinds of Other began.
V: When you write your stories, what is the one thing you hope readers will take away?
JS: Believe in your worth: trust your heart, and your voice.
V: What was the hardest scene of All Kinds of Other to write?
JS: The scene that was rewritten the most times was the pivotal second meeting the two boys have at the Los Angeles River at night. It was a delicate balance: the scene needed to be a culmination of growth for each of the characters, and the emotional payoff had to be earned.
V: If you could tell your younger writer self anything, what would it be?
JS: Writing doesn’t need to be fast—you can write at your own pace—but it has to be constant. It’s frighteningly easy to fall out of the habit of writing. Give yourself a schedule, treat it like work. And writing doesn’t mean just sitting down and typing away; it’s also allowing the space in your head to imagine, to work things out.
V: What are your writing must-haves?
JS: A neutral space to write (preferably away from household chores!). Long walks with my dog. Noise-canceling earphones. A large bowl of popcorn.
Head to our Instagram page (@voyageya) to hear James Sie read the first page of All Kinds of Other! Find James’s video under the IGTV tab.