Our next print issue––The Luxury Issue––lands on newsstands in less than a month and to get you in the mood, we’ve teamed up with the modern-day F Scott Fitzgerald that everyone is talking about.
Kevin Kwan is the bestselling, New York-based author of Rich People Problems, the third in the trilogy that includes Crazy Rich Asians and China Rich Girlfriend. Selected by Penguin Random House as their One World, One Book pick, Rich People Problems is a can’t-put-down read that's central focus is on a family being torn apart by fortune, an ex being driven mad by jealousy, and an almighty couture sabotage.
Kwan’s first book, Crazy Rich Asians is currently being developed into a film and he has a TV series in the works; and for ten lucky Candid devotees, we have a copy of Rich People Problems to give away, but before we tell you how you can win, read our hilarious interview with Kevin Kwan below that touches on Kevin’s upbringing, his favourite fashion labels and plastic surgery for the world’s most expensive aquatic pet.
Hi Kevin, thank you for chatting with us. You’ve definitely carved out a niche for yourself. What is it about the ‘rich’ that inspires you to put pen to paper?
When I was at university studying creative writing, my professors always said, “Write what you know.” So I decided to write about a fascinating world that I have been witness to and that I didn't see anyone else writing about at the time. I think the lives and foibles of the rich and powerful make for fun reading, and I've been greatly inspired by authors like Anthony Trollope, Edith Wharton, Evelyn Waugh, and Dominick Dunne, who all chose to write about the privileged classes.
What was your childhood like in Singapore? Is that where ‘rich’ seed planted?
My childhood was a key inspiration for my novels. I was fortunate enough to have the sort of idyllic fantasy upbringing that really doesn’t exist anymore in Singapore. It was equal parts Huck Finn and Brideshead Revisited. We lived in my grandparents’ house, which was an elegant old bungalow on top of one of the highest hills on the island with glorious, panoramic views. I spent my days with a pack of kids, running around on our bikes, teasing neighbourhood dogs and getting up to all sorts of trouble. But in the evenings, there were always dinner parties and grand occasions where I had to get dressed up and be on my best behaviour.
What is the funniest anecdote that you can share about researching your latest book, Rich People Problems?
Discovering a breed of fish called the Super Red Arowana, which is so prized by collectors that they can cost upwards of $250,000. Some of these collectors are so devoted to their arowanas that they will send their pets for plastic surgery to improve their looks. Yes, there is a plastic surgeon that specializes in facelifts for this particular breed of fish! Naturally, I had to write about this in my new book!
Wow. Are your characters based on friends, relatives, people you know? Are people happy to open up or becoming a little suspicious of observation and questions?
My characters are inspired by all sorts of people I’ve known throughout my life, not just in Singapore but over the course of two decades living in New York. It’s very much a giant collage—I gather bits and pieces of personalities and quirks from everywhere in order to construct a character. The reaction has been fantastic, and especially in Asia, quite a few people have actually demanded that I should put them in my books!
Your first book in the trilogy, Crazy Rich Asians is being made into a film. Exciting! How did that come about?
Even before the book was published in the summer of 2013, Hollywood had already come calling and several producers and studios wanted to option the book for a film. I suppose it was because there was so much advanced buzz about the book—Anna Wintour had singled it out early to excerpt in Vogue, the New York Times gave it a rave review and I was getting such incredible support from great writers like Michael Korda, Plum Sykes and Jackie Collins. In the end, I decided to partner with Nina Jacobson, the amazing producer behind The Hunger Games films, and now we have a wonderful all-star cast led by the incredibly talented director Jon M. Chu.
Are you a fan of fashion, or is it just your characters? What are your favourite labels?
Growing up I was always surrounded by incredibly fashionable women, and I moved to New York to go to Parsons School of Design, where fashion is the bedrock of everything. I first thought I wanted to be a fashion photographer, and one of my first jobs was working for Andy Warhol’s Interview Magazine. It’s hard to name my favourite labels, because there are so many, but I would say that the designers I am currently most intrigued by include Dries Van Noten, Rick Owens, Alexis Mabille and Walter van Beirendonck.
We have an interview with Walter van Beirendonck in our upcoming print issue! What’s the most expensive thing you’ve ever bought?
There’s a new Fleetwood Mac box set I have my eye on, but I’m waiting for it to hit the markdown bin.
You have a lot of delicious-looking food pictures on your Instagram feed. Where is your favourite place to eat in Singapore and in New York?
In Singapore, my favourite haunts sadly no longer exist, and New York, it’s Tea & Sympathy in the West Village.
Anything else in the pipeline?
My next big adventure is the TV series I’m creating. It’s going to be a spectacular one-hour scripted drama set in the US, Europe and Asia.
Terms and Conditions:
- Competition promoter is: Candid Magazine.
- Competition will close on June 15th 2017. Entries sent after the closing date will not be considered.
- To be in with a chance of winning, entrants must submit a photograph of their own ‘dream purchase’ via Twitter or Instagram. Eligible entries must be tweeted to @CandidMagazine with the hashtag #CandidxKevinKwan or submitted on Instagram tagging in @candidmagazine and include the hashtag: #candidxkevinkwan
- Entrants must be following Candid Magazine on Twitter or Instagram.
- Entries will be judged randomly by Candid Magazine.
- Competition is open to UK residents only.
- Prize: up to 10 (ten) individual winners will receive one copy of Kevin Kwan’s new book: Rich People Problems, published by Penguin Random House.
- Winners will be notified via social media and will need to supply a valid UK address.
- Failure to reply to notification within two weeks renders the competition void.
- Should this product be unavailable at the time of purchase for the winner, the promoter reserves the right to substitute with an alternative of equal or greater value.
- Specifications are subject to change from the manufacturer without notice.
- All prizes will be delivered within 28 working days from the date the promoter receives confirmation of the delivery address from the winner.
- The promoter is not liable for any damages, injuries, trespassing and other criminal activity.
- There is no cash or other alternative to the prize stated and the prize is not transferable and no part or parts of the prize may be substituted for other benefits, items or additions.
- Winner’s name, address and contact details will be requested for prize fulfilment.
- Candid Magazine’s decision is final and binding on the entrants – no correspondence will be entered into.