Author Events

If you’re looking for an upcoming author event, check the calendar in the navigation bar above. This section is an overview of my past author events. Sometimes the event is live or it gets taped for later airing. I might be on my own or with a crowd of other authors.

Guest lecture

AUC event
Amsterdam University College. Image source: http://www.auc.nl/

It was quite an honor to be invited by university lecturers Huan Hsu and Wade Geary to speak at the Amsterdam University College. For one morning last fall, I was a guest lecturer to their combined creative writing classes. I spoke about how hard it can be to extract fiction from real life and how a 500 word piece of flash fiction can take five years to write. Event date: 31.10.2018

Journal writing workshop

This was another event organized through the American Women’s Club of Amsterdam. Some of the participants in this afternoon workshop had always wanted to write, were already writing or had never touched a pen in their life but were willing to try. Event date: 18.10.2018

Master class

Master Class announcement
Master Class. Image source: https://internationalwriterscollective.com/course/master-class-with-novelist-karen-kao/?mc_cid=ec56611840&mc_eid=ad23c0644c

During the summer of 2018, the International Writers’ Collective organized a series of Master Classes, featuring local and visiting authors. In my Master Class, IWC director Sarah Carriger and I spoke about the inspiration for my debut novel, The Dancing Girl and the Turtle, how to handle violence in fiction and my choice not to conduct any historical research until after I’d finished writing the story. You can read my take on that afternoon session or listen to the full class here. Event date: 22.07.2018

International Writers’ Collective Master Class with Karen Kao

Not Just Hemingway podcast

podcast event
Not Just Hemingway. Image source: http://notjusthemingway.com/

Dieuwke van Turenhout is crazy about short stories. That’s what her website Not Just Hemingway is all about. She invited me to choose a favorite short story and talk about it with her for a podcast. I chose “Afternoon at the Bakery” by Yoko Ogawa from her wonderful collection Revenge. I’m hoping Dieuwke will soon add our podcast to her website, along with the podcast notes. For now you can listen to our conversation via SoundCloud. Recording date: 03.07.2018

Spring reading

At the end of every semester, the International Writers’ Collective organizes an event for students and faculty to read from their work in public. I got to tag along as a future faculty member. This is me reading from The Dancing Girl and the Turtle. Event date: 20.04.2018

Another afternoon of readings

group reading event
Reading at Pages Bookstore Cafe Amsterdam. Photo credit: Frans Verhagen

Back by popular demand was how we marketed this event, though in truth it was simply our own desire to get back on stage. By we, I mean Dipika Mukherjee, that globetrotter, who was the instigation for the reading at Pages Bookstore in October 2017.

This time, we put together a whole new line-up of poets, humorists, fiction and non-fiction writers.

There was a bit of a bump en route to this reading but in the end it all worked out fine. You can read more about that bump here. Event date: 25.02.2018

Get the funk out!

interview event
KUCI fm logo. Image source: http://getthefunkoutshow.kuci.org/

A surprise stop at radio station KUCI 88.9 fm on the Get the Funk Out show with host and producer Janeane Bernstein. We talked about cliff-diving, writing by the seat of your pants and more. You can listen to the whole interview here. 16.10.2017.

US book tour

I had 5 speaking engagements lined up for October 2017.

First stop: my college alma mater courtesy of Chancellor’s Professor of History and China expert, Jeff Wasserstrom. It was a brown bag lunch on 13.10.2017 with a diverse group of grad students: literature, economics and of course history. We talked about the historical resources I’ve used to create the backdrop to The Dancing Girl and the Turtle and continue to mine for the remaining volumes of The Shanghai Quartet.

Reading
Ramona Convent Tiger for Life! Photo credit: Karen Kao

Next stop: my high school alma mater Ramona Convent Secondary School, starting with my 40th high school reunion on 14.10.2017 and ending with a full day of lectures on 19.10.2017 to over 200 members of the Ramona student body. Here’s the RCSS newsletter for faculty and students that announced my appearance. You can find my interview with the alumni magazine below.

Another splashy announcement appeared in the October 2017 newsletter of the Chinese Historical Society of Southern California. I spoke at their monthly meeting on 18.10.2017.

reading
Brandon Horrocks, Nancy Lo and me at the SDCHM / APHAFIC reading

Last but not least was the author meet & greet co-hosted by the San Diego Chinese Historical Museum and the Association for Preserving Historical Accuracy of Foreign Invasions in China. That event took place on 21.10.2017. How fun is this to get written up in the local Chinese language newspaper We Chinese?

Reading at Pages bookstore cafe

reading event
Dipika Mukherjee and Karen Kao. Photo credit: Armelle van Helden

The irrepressible Dipika Mukherjee and I co-hosted a reading by local storytellers, poets and fiction writers. All of us have, at one time or another, actively participated in the Amsterdam writers community and some of us still do.

This was the line-up:

  • Tori Egherman telling the story of how she fell in love with Iran;
  • Milla van der Have with her poetic odes to the Ghosts of Old Virginny;
  • David Martin with an oh-so -appropriate story about stage fright;
  • Abra Bertman reading her love poems;
  • Me and a scene from The Dancing Girl and the Turtle;
  • Robin Winckel-Mellish with South African poems of life and death;
  • David Lee reading from his short story collection / ode to John Steinbeck, The Moon Was Down;
  • Kate Foley making us laugh and cry with her poetry;
  • Mark Bruinekreeft at his first ever public reading;
  • Dipika reading an extract from her novel Shambala Junction; and
  • Last but not least, David Swatling reading from the sequel-in-progress to his thriller novel, Calvin’s Head.

Special thanks go out to Pages Bookstore Cafe Amsterdam. Founded by Syrian refugees, Pages is a pop-up bookstore, cafe and much more.

It is the home for music, for arts and literature, a haven of love… and a place to all of us, Pages is us! Pages is for artists, painters, musicians and filmmakers.

Event date: 07.10.2017

Book launch & first US tour

The Dancing Girl and the Turtle launched on 1 April 2017. Two days later, I left for the States for my very own DIY book tour. Check out the pretty photos of the launch and read about the book tour here.