By Ryka Aoki
I’m super excited right now because my book, Light From Uncommon Stars, is finally out in the world! I’m still trying to comprehend that a press like Tor would get behind a book about the San Gabriel Valley, trans and queer folk, refugee space aliens, classical music, and donuts.
Also, so many amazing authors have given their time and wisdom to guide me in this still-quite-mind-blowing process. I’m sure they had much better things to do, yet each of the following authors had one-on-one conversations with me to help promote Light From Uncommon Stars.
Being Asian, it’s hard to say thank you without giving food—that’s just the way we are. However, since COVID makes this impossible, I wanted to list the Los Angeles/San Gabriel Valley donuts that I think of when I imagine each of these sweet and brilliant writers!
Charlie Jane Anders: Charlie Jane is a cake donut, lots of sprinkles. From the radiant splendor of Randy’s Donuts on La Cienega. I have never been with Charlie Jane and not seen colorful sprinkles. Rainbow sprinkles. If we’re lucky some of them will match her hair.
Cadwell Turnbull: Cadwell? Cadwell definitely gets a maple donut from Trejo’s Coffee and Donuts in Hollywood, maybe with bacon. Something that seems familiar yet sophisticated and a little intimidating—but is really amazing and delicious.
Jenn Lyons: We are so sharing a dozen glazed donuts in from Krispy Kreme in Burbank, grabbing our Oculus Quests, and spending an afternoon in virtual space playing Beat Saber. And I’d give her another dozen to save for later because she’s been just that good to me.
John Scalzi: Easy. A chocolate glazed Dunkin’ Donut with coffee. Yes, there is a Dunkin’ Donuts in Hollywood, but there’s something very non-Hollywood about it. Timeless, uncompromising—there’s a reason it’s classic. When John noticed my book, suddenly I felt legit.
Becky Chambers: A strawberry donut from Donut Man that’s still warm even after the drive back from Glendora because Becky’s work reminds me that no matter what the universe throws at you, there is sweetness to live for, so take it easy and remember to hug myself.
Everina Maxwell: Sending Everina an apple fritter from Uncle Joe’s in San Gabriel. I’ve been in awe of Uncles Joe’s apple fritters since high school. They are sweet and chunky and perfect for Everina to nosh on while waiting for me to fix my latest Internet issue.
TJ Klune: A Japanese matcha donut from Donatsu in Little Tokyo. With an iced coffee or tea and garnished with rose petals, I think it might make you cry a little, TJ—it’s just so beautiful.
Sarah Gailey: A mango (or maybe an ube, or perhaps a banana milk) donut from Mochinut in Arcadia. Made a little differently from the others, rice-flour Mochinuts are perfect with good friends old and new, enhancing our conversation in the tastiest, fruitiest, and most colorful ways.
And to each of you reading this, I send a giant Texas donut from Kindle’s Do-nuts on Normandie Ave. They are magnificent and otherworldly and just like these sweet and generous authors, they are so larger-than-life that they don’t seem quite real. But real they are.
I am so grateful to each of them, and to you.
Now, all you need to do is reach for one and take a bite.
Ryka Aoki (she/her) is a poet, composer, teacher, and novelist whose books include He Mele a Hilo and two Lambda Award finalists, Seasonal Velocities and Why Dust Shall Never Settle Upon This Soul. Her latest work, Light From Uncommon Stars, is available through Tor Books now.
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