PW: When did you realize you wanted to gather your experiences into Following Foo?
B.D. Wong: Throughout the summer of 2000, when my son Jackson Foo was in the ICU, many people suggested I write a book. I didn't take the idea very seriously, but a literary agent—Alan Nevins—heard about the e-mails I had been sending friends and asked to read them.
PW: The literary agent got wind of the e-mails going back and forth?
BDW: Yes. There were literally almost a thousand people by the end of it, and a huge percentage I didn't even know; my messages had just been forwarded.
PW: So the book wouldn't have evolved in this way without the electronic age playing a part?
BDW: It really was a phenomenon of our time. My family and I received the comfort from these people because they could reach me immediately wherever they were. It was quite healing and supportive, and would never have happened even 10 years ago. I think back to the Pony Express when people sent letters and didn't even know if others ever got them.
PW: Why did you vary the font sizes in the text?
BDW: Originally, when I sent the e-mails, I did all these wacky things with typefaces and colors. When Maureen O'Brien bought the book for Harper Entertainment, I was very nervous about entering into an editing situation. One of the things that I really thought was unique about the e-mails was that they went out with this distinctive appearance, I asked if we could use some of the elements of whimsical type facing throughout the book, and she went along with it.
PW: We know you as an actor. Was it a challenge to write?
BDW: I've always written, actually. Before I discovered acting, creative writing was my only hope for having a normal career. I gave a speech at my high school graduation and had various brushes with writing throughout my pre-acting experience. I've spent the last 10 years lecturing at colleges and universities and writing a lot of speeches. At the time when this all happened, I opened the floodgates of creativity and writing became therapeutic for me.
PW: It's a very personal account.
BDW: I didn't want to just report. I'm not a big believer in the Christmas letter that's folded up inside the card. I realized that in order to get people to read and digest this I'd have to make it interesting for them and for myself.
PW: Is there one main message you'd want parents to come away with?
BDW: That you have to let it go, you have to let everything go. You can't hold onto things and you can't control things; you can't control anything.
PW: Especially with children?
BDW: Especially with children, but to me life is more and more about letting go and relinquishing control. I tend to be a very controlling person, and I thought, mistakenly, up until these events happened, that control was empowering. I guess the other main thing is that when something bad happens to you, something positive can come of it.
PW: Will you write another book?
BDW: I think so. I really love to write. This book not only exists because of something that happened but because of the creative energy I put into it.
PW: Did you have any doubts about sharing such personal experiences with the public?
BDW: It was a great opportunity for me to be an author, and it was a chance to say, this is who I am. When you're an actor on television, there's always a committee deciding what you're going to wear, how you're going to style your hair, how you're going to say that line, whether they're going to edit your scene or any number of things that are outside of your purview. This is the first time I've ever really been able to say, "Here's this book, I'm holding it in my hand, this is how I wish to represent myself; this is me."