Love and Other Moods is a coming-of-age story set in contemporary China, about falling in love, learning to adult, finding strength, and discovering one’s place in the world.
Naomi Kita-Fan uproots her life from New York to China when her fiancé’s company transfers him to Shanghai. After a disastrous turn of events, Naomi finds herself with no job, no boyfriend, and nowhere to live in a foreign country.
Amidst the backdrop of Shanghai welcoming millions of workers and visitors to the 2010 World Expo, we meet a tapestry of characters through Naomi: Joss Kong, a Shanghai socialite who leads an enviable life, but must harbor the secrets of her husband, Tay Kai Tang. Logan Hayden, a womanizing restaurateur looking for love in all the wrong places. Pan Jinsung and Ouyang Zhangjie, a silver-aged couple struggling with adapting to the ever-changing faces of their city. Dante Ouyang, who had just returned to China after spending years overseas, must choose between being filial and being in love. All their dreams and aspirations interweave within the sprawling web of Shanghai.
This multilayered novel explores a kaleidoscope of shifting relationships——familial friction, amorous entanglements, volatile friendships——in one of the most dynamic metropolises of the twenty-first century.
Title: Love and Other Moods
Author: Crystal Z. Lee
Publication Date: December 10, 2020
Genre: Adult, Romance, Contemporary
Topic: Meet the Characters from Love and Other Moods
Why Shanghai? Why was the novel set in this city?
I adore rom-coms, in books and in films. But it bothered me that the majority of romantic stories I read or watched growing up were almost always with the same American or European backdrop. Sure, Paris or Rome will always be iconic cities of love, but I believe Shanghai, Taipei, or Tokyo can be just as romantic. In Love and Other Moods, the city of Shanghai itself can be seen as one of the central characters.
Introduce us to Naomi.
The main character of Love and Other Moods is Naomi Kita-Fan, a Japanese-Taiwanese-American who moves from New York to Shanghai with her fiance. Her wedding dreams are soon dashed and she must learn to step out of her comfort zone. This is a coming-of-age story, so we journey with Naomi as she experiences growing pains, discovers her place in the world, and along the way, fall in love.
If you could have dinner with one of your characters, who would it be and where would you go?
Dante Ouyang. He is the one of dreamiest Chinese men you’ll ever meet. Dante is an architect and also a culinary enthusiast. For dinner we’d go to Xin Jesse in Shanghai, one of the best restaurants that serves authentic Shanghainese cuisine. After dinner we’d go on an architectural tour. He’d point out all the art deco elements in the city because that is his specialty.
If you could meet your characters, what would you say to them?
I would want to meet Naomi’s grandmother, Nai Nai. She tells Naomi about a real-life love story between a famous Chinese couple who lived a hundred years ago. I love history so would ask her for more stories like that.
If you were to write a spin-off about a side character, which would you pick?
If I were the reader, I’d love to hear the backstory of Naomi’s parents, Reina Kita and Wesley Fan. Or hear about Trina Akersten’s adoption story in Taiwan. Those are two spin-offs I might develop one day.
Why did you decide to write the story in multiple third-person point-of-views?
I struggled whether to write the novel this way, but ultimately I wanted this book to mirror a city, with viewpoints from the multitude of characters you would meet in a sprawling metropolis. Therefore, in Love and Other Moods, there are POVs from the expats, the Shanghainese socialites, the corporate executives, the working class, the entrepreneurs, the doorman, the maid, the millennials, the aging parents. To me, all of their perspectives are essential to the story, and is what makes a city like Shanghai come alive.
One unique thing about Love and Other Moods?
I’d say the Asian male characters in my novel are all pretty dreamy, which is an element I don’t see too often in mainstream English-language literature. I for one, would love to see more Asian men as lead characters in English-language fiction, and in the romance genre at large.
About the Author
Crystal Z. Lee is a Taiwanese American bilingual writer. She has called many places home, including Taipei, New York, Shanghai, and the San Francisco Bay Area. She was formerly a public relations executive who had worked with brands in the fashion, beauty, technology, and automotive industries. Love and Other Moods is her debut novel. She’s already hard at work on her next novel and a children’s book.
Follow the author on Instagram @ Crystal.Z.Lee