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James Sie, Still Life Las Vegas

St. Martin's Press
St. Martin's Press

Actor and writer James Sie using Las Vegas as the background of his new book. 

James Sie is an actor and an award-winning playwright

He’s also explored his Chinese-Italian upbringing in the solo show “Talking With My Hands.” If that wasn't enough, he has also contributed essays for The Rumpus and The Advocate.

Now, Sie has released his debut novel, “Still Life Las Vegas."

It's a coming of age story of Walter Stahl whose mother abandoned the family when he was 5-year-old.

Now 17, Walter Stahl is living in Las Vegas taking care of his ailing father and marking time working in a dead-end job along the Strip.

Interview Highlights:

On why the novel was set in Las Vegas:

“There are two reasons. One is the sense of reinvention that Las Vegas has, in spades and that seemed the ideal setting for a family that was trying to escape, to reinvent what their lives had become after a tragic event. So Las Vegas was perfect for that. And the other part, is the mythology of Las Vegas and how Las Vegas on the Strip has appropriated every important cultural symbol in the world and subverted it to its own use and yet there is a lot of power in it. It is a very thrilling place to be as well as a very manufactured place to be. And I wanted to see how I could fit real mythology into the manufactured mythology of Las Vegas"

On mixing graphic novel elements and prose:

“I was really worried about that because I didn’t know how peoples’ brains would do going back from reading a graphic novel, which takes a different part of your brain to read, to prose. I wanted to really experiment with that and see if you could have both in one story. It became important to the story because the narrator is an illustrator and in a way it's like an archeological dig of a family where he’s using all of his different mediums, writing, sketches, graphic novel to try to make sense of a pivotal point in his life that he doesn’t understand” 


On why he wrote a novel:

“I’ve always thought of novels as the highest form of writing, just for me, because of how it saved my life growing up. That I could escape into a novel that it was a place, a refuge, and so I’ve always wanted to write one and it was just until my son was born when I realized I hadn’t been writing for a while that I decided to try it and just give myself the time and the determination to do it”

For an excerpt from James Sie's book click on the link to Literary Hub.



James Sie, author, Still Life Las Vegas

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