Wednesday, August 8, 2012


Meet: Alan Chin

What are your 2 favorite careers?

I’ve had a number of jobs in my life. I worked my way through high school as a short-order cook. I worked as a jet mechanic during my four-year hitch in the US Navy, a short time as a florist, several years as a computer programmer, a dozen years as manager of software development groups, and am now a writer of novels and screenplays.

My two most satisfying careers were writing novels (which I feel is my life’s work) and writing computer programs. These two because they both require working by myself with a high degree of creativity, and with both careers, no matter how good you get, there is always areas to improve. It allows me to strive for a perfection I will never reach.  

If I could have a different career I’ve never tried, it would be directing movies. To me, that would be the ultimate—to write a great script and then get to create the movie. My dream.

What is the hardest thing you ever had to do?

Walk away from a sixteen-year relationship with a man I loved. In our younger days we were party boys, drugs and booze and rock&roll in the swinging city of San Francisco. But when the time came to sober up and get serious with our lives, he was not able to do that. In the end, I had to get away from him as he was leading me down the path to alcoholism. It was pure self-preservation.

We are still dear friends, even though he continues to drink heavily and I don’t enjoy being around him when he drinks. The irony is, as hard as it was to give up that relationship, it allowed Herman, my current husband, to enter my life. From my greatest hardship blossomed my greatest joy.

Favorite music, song or band

I’m a big old opera queen. I love Italian opera—Rossini, Puccini, Verdi, Donizetti, Mozart—and have attended live performances of all the great stars around the world. That music is so stirring, and the incredible way they use the voice as an instrument is remarkably beautiful.

I have recently, however, discovered a Hawaiian singer named IZ Kamakawiwo’ole. He must have weighed 600 pounds, yet had the voice of an angel. He passed away a few years back but his music is still very popular in the islands. I love to have his songs playing softly in the background while I write.

Are you usually late, early or right on time?

I’m a person who likes to show up right on time. There is something so satisfying about being punctual. I’ve always thought that showing up late shows disrespect for the people who are left waiting for you to arrive.

I am, however, married to a man who thinks ‘on time’ means fifteen minutes early. Especially for parties, Herman likes to show up early just to see if there is anything he can do to help get the party organized. Because of this, I always take a book with me in the car so I can read for that time before everybody else gets there.

Are you happy with your life for the most part right now?

I’ve never been happier. I walked away from an unfulfilling career in corporate America thirteen years ago, and have had the time of my life since then.  After retiring, I published five novels (three award winners) with two more in the pipeline; Herman and I have traveled to over 45 countries, scuba diving the Great Barrier Reef and the Red Sea, riding elephants on tiger safari in Nepal and India, seeing the Great Migration in Africa, and feasting in the capitals of Europe and Asia. When I think back on it, it seems overwhelming.

Herman and I recently moved from the San Francisco Bay Area to Palm Springs, and we are loving the desert life.  Our new circle of friends has utterly charmed us to the point where we may stay home more often.

If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go?

Herman and I have yet to set foot on the continent of South America. Rio, Sao Paulo, Machu Picchu, Buenos Aires, Bogota, La Paz, Galapagos Islands—take your pick. I want to experience it all.

The trouble is, Herman is Chinese, and he loves traveling to Asia. It’s a bone of contention between us, but I know that eventually, if we live long enough, we’ll see what surprises South America has to offer. Some dear friends are traveling to Buenos Aires next year, and I’m hoping we can join them.

What do you think would be the hardest thing for you to give up on?

The dearest thing in my life is my husband of eighteen years, Herman Chin. Losing him would be like throwing away every shred of joy in my life. I mean, except for the hours I spend alone writing, he is my life, my soul. He is what makes life dear to me. I can’t even imagine how agonizing that loss would be.


  1. As always, with every interview I learn a little bit more about you, Alan. And, as always, I am inspired by the joy you find in your life and your marriage. It reminds me how lucky I am to have found the love of my own life. What a wonderful interview :)

  2. Wonderful interview and a truly interesting person! I haven't met you before now, Alan, but I can tell I'd like you. And I heartily recommend South America. I've lived there and have family in Bolivia. Corrupt politics, but lovely people with a vibrant indigenous culture. The Andes are amazing. Thanks for sharing with us!