Carl Sagan, the late American scientist and author, once described books as “proof that humans are capable of working magic” – recognising their unique ability to place a reader in the mind of a writer, possibly dead for thousands of years, breaking through the shackles of time. For Kirstin Chen, author of the recent hit novel Counterfeit , time’s connection to writing is less fanciful, more personal. “I am a slow writer. It takes me four to five years to write a book,” she says. “When I was younger I was always in an incredible hurry. I felt that if I did not publish right this second, I never would. Now, I understand that a book takes as long as it takes.” How did Harry and Meghan’s BFF Tyler Perry make his billions? Chen’s third novel, Counterfeit , is ostensibly about two women who attempt to hustle their way to riches with a counterfeit handbag business, but becomes a tale about all the other fakery in and around their lives. The time she spent writing and rewriting paid off when it became the June 2022 pick for Reese’s Book Club, a sure-fire guarantee of massive sales on par with Oprah’s Book Club . “I remember that it was late morning on an ordinary weekday when I saw my editor’s name flash on my mobile phone – I was sure she’d called me by accident,” she recalls. “When I got her on the phone, she blurted, ‘You’re the Reese pick!’ It was the hardest, best secret I’ve ever had to keep.” Now an established New York Times bestseller, Chen’s work investigates the Asian and Asian-American experience from a female perspective. Originally from Singapore, she moved to the United States when she was 15 and studied comparative literature and creative writing at Stanford University. Boss babe billionaire heiress: inside Isha Ambani’s momentous 2022 The success of Counterfeit is proof to her that with time comes not only improvement, but even regeneration: “I’ve been lucky to have had the freedom to write whatever interests me. Neither my agent nor my editors have ever pushed me to pursue particular topics or genres for book sales. I set out to stretch myself as a writer with each new book – to research new subjects and to experiment with new techniques,” she adds. “At the end of my career, I hope to be able to look back and say that I truly did get better with each subsequent book.” For a writer who’s only just into her forties, that promises many more excellent reads. But even if a project doesn’t go to plan, she says she has learned to accept her writing on its own merits. “I can’t say there’s anything I would go back and change. Part of being an artist is having to let go of your work, making peace with the fact that someday you’ll look back on it and wish you’d done some things differently,” Chen concludes. Is that regret, or a sign of growth? Kirstin Chen, author Who is Elon Musk’s teen transgender daughter, Vivian Jenna Wilson? Kirstin Chen’s most-treasured timepiece Patek Philippe Aquanaut with rubber strap “This is my vintage Patek Philippe that was passed down by a beloved aunt.” XXIV hours in Kirstin Chen’s day … Morning “During the week, I lead a rather monastic life – you know how Flaubert said, ‘Be regular and orderly in your life, so that you may be violent and original in your work’? I wake up early, meditate for 20 or 30 minutes and then do an hour and a half of Mysore-style Ashtanga yoga. Afterwards, I have breakfast, read The New York Times and catch up on emails.” Afternoon “Finally, it’s time to write. When I’m drafting something new, I aim to write 1,000 words per day, which I email to my close friend the writer Matthew Salesses – and he does the same to me. We read each other’s work, and reply with a thumbs-up or a thumbs-down, no other comments. Thumbs-up means keep going, thumbs-down means go back and revise. In the very early stages, that’s all you need to know.” Evening “I am the cook of my household. In the beginning, I took this on simply out of necessity – I did not want to eat out all the time, and I have a more flexible schedule than my husband. Over the years though, I’ve come to enjoy the process. I’m by no means a gifted cook, but I follow instructions well and have even developed some sound instincts.” Want more stories like this? Follow STYLE on Facebook , Instagram , YouTube and Twitter .