Xu Xi is the author of two novels, Hong Kong Rose and Chinese Walls, and a fiction collection, Daughters Of Hui. She holds an MFA in fiction from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. A native of Hong Kong from a Chinese-Indonesian family, she now lives in New York and the SAR. For the next three months she will be in Orlando, Florida, as the Jack Kerouac Project's writer-in-residence, living in the home where Kerouac wrote Dharma Bums. Describe the book you're working on. It's a novel called Habit Of A Foreign Sky. The title comes from an Emily Dickinson poem that begins 'Away from home are some and I'. The poem is also the epigraph to my novel. Broadly speaking it's about souls that are lost in the skies over our global village. Right now, my two main characters are 'stuck' in Shanghai, although most of the action takes place in Hong Kong, New York and somewhere up in the atmosphere. What are you reading now? Eileen Chang's (Cheung Oi Ling) The Rice Sprout Spring and Mao Dun's Midnight, which I'm reading in translation. If you could have a one-to-one with any writer in history, who would it be? Being someone who's devoured books since I could imitate grown-ups in the act of reading, I'm hard pressed to name only one writer so I'll name three. William Blake, Dorothy Parker and Vladimir Nabokov, the first to encounter the romance of genius, the second to hug and indulge in her genius of girl-talk and the third to ask: 'Damn, just how did you do it, so much and so long?' I first read all three when I was young (under 25) and still go back to them from time to time. Name three buzzwords you hate. Globalism, Asian Values and Whatever, especially when the speaker/writer hasn't got a sense of humour. Which living author do you most admire? I have to do the gender thing here. Kazuo Ishiguro - he writes music in his prose, was born the same year I was but wasted a hell of a lot less time. Doris Lessing - for her courage and staying power (although Maxine Hong Kingston runs a close second on courage). Which character in a book would you most like to be? Alice, Lewis Carroll's in Wonderland, and not the one in The End Of Alice by AM Homes although I think her book is stunning in its appropriation of Alice as icon. As for the male character, Monkey from the classic Chinese novel by Wu Cheng-En in the Arthur Waley translation. Which character in a book would you most like to sleep with? Gully Jimson from The Horse's Mouth by Joyce Cary, for art, Blake and the laughter. Which book do you wish you'd written? The Year Of The Death Of Ricardo Reis by Jose Saramago. What was the last book you couldn't finish? Shipping News by E. Annie Proulx. Read about two-thirds and decided I just didn't care what would happen to the main character. I couldn't finish her short story collection either. What do you do when you have writer's block? I don't experience 'blocks', but I occasionally get stuck in a moment of a work in progress. Then I write something else, swim, clean house, take care of chores or read something related to the stuck moment, which partially accounts for all my current Shanghai interest.