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Jamie Ford is the great-grandson of Nevada mining pioneer Min Chung, who emigrated from Kaiping, China, to San Francisco in 1865, where he adopted the Western name 'Ford,' thus confusing countless generations. Ford is an award-winning short-story writer, an alumnus of the Squaw Valley Community of Writers, and a survivor of Orson Scott Card's Literary Boot Camp. Having grown up near Seattle's Chinatown, he now lives in Montana with his wife and children. His debut novel, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet was a massive international bestseller. Songs of Willow Frost has just been released, published by Allen & Unwin.

The Great Santini by Pat Conroy

Pat once said, “The greatest gift a writer can ever be given is an unhappy childhood.” If you've ever read The Great Santini, My Losing Season, or The Prince of Tides, you'll know that Pat was indeed a gifted child. This book in particular helped me turn perceived weaknesses into strengths, and familial angst into fodder for fiction.

Please Look After Mom By Kyung-sook Shin 

Some books change the way we look at ourselves, the way we interact with those closest to our hearts -- the way we've loved those people, or the way we've missed them or taken them hopelessly for granted. This is one of those books.

Blankets by Craig Thompson 

This sweet, sorrowful memoir in graphic novel form is a love story, a family story, and one of my favourite books of all time. A terrific example of a noble romantic tragedy—the kind of storytelling I aspire to.

The White Mountains by John Christopher

Before the current trend of post-apocalyptic tales, zombie stories, and The Hunger Games, there was John Christopher’s amazing “Tripod Trilogy.” I read this series in the 5th grade and the poignant, sacrificial ending has never left my imagination.

An Edge in My Voice By Harlan Ellison

This hard-to-find collection of essays is my go-to book of choice as a writer. It’s a master class on writing with an authentic voice—painful, angry, and evocative, with equal parts arrogance and honest vulnerability.

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