With more than 180 storytellers from 30 countries, this year’s UWRF lineup is a treasure trove of discoveries. Each week in the lead-up to UWRF19, we speak to a writer whose work you may not have encountered yet, but who could well turn out to be your festival favorite. This week we hear from Lindsay Wong, the award-winning bestselling author of The Woo-Woo: How I Survived Ice Hockey, Drug Raids, Demons, And My Crazy Chinese Family.
When and why did you start writing?
I began writing in college, most likely to make sense of myself and the people that I grew up with. I come from a largely dysfunctional Chinese-Canadian family that doesn’t believe in mental illness and they blame their sorrows and day-to-day problems on Chinese ghosts, The Woo-Woo. I also grew up in Vancouver, British Columbia, but I was raised in a traditional Chinese household, which meant that I was receiving opposing instructions on how to behave or what to believe in. Writing really allowed me to explore my frustrations and to essentially confirm the disparate possibilities of the kind of human being that I could someday be.
Writing really allowed me to explore my frustrations and to essentially confirm the disparate possibilities of the kind of human being that I could someday be.
What’s the most extraordinary place your work has taken you?
Writing a memoir has been like going through a haunted house at a carnival; there are all sorts of miniature scares, heart-attack inducing jumps and rich revelations around every dark, spider-webbed corner. There are also nonstop tears and yells of genuine triumph. To be honest, I hated the process of writing a memoir, but I am truly grateful for it. I think memoir writing has the ability to take us to extraordinary places deep within ourselves.
What’s your favorite part of the writing process, and least favorite?
I dislike doing revisions, especially if you’re given a lot of notes and you aren’t quite sure what the editorial team is asking for – it feels like wandering through the dark sometimes, and it doesn’t help if there are more meetings and more notes. After my seventh draft, I’m admittedly cranky.
The best part of writing is starting a brand new project, when the ideas are fresh and new and exciting.
What issues and ideas are you hoping to explore during UWRF19?
As a new writer, being able to attend literary festivals and meet such amazing talent has been quite a dream. The Ubud Writers & Readers Festival will be my first festival outside of North America, and I’m really hoping to connect with a vast array of international authors and audience members. I’d love to talk more about memoir writing from a female millennial POV and how we can continue to support each other in such a tough, competitive industry.
I’d love to talk more about memoir writing from a female millennial POV and how we can continue to support each other in such a tough, competitive industry.
Who do you hope will be in the audience?
Warm, welcoming, open-minded readers who are interested in having smart discussions about books by POC female authors.
What’s your advice for aspiring writers?
Don’t be boring, and don’t give up. Just get the work done.
For those unfamiliar with your work, what do you suggest they start with?
I have only written one memoir, titled The Woo-Woo: How I Survived Ice Hockey, Drug Raids, Demons, And My Crazy Chinese Family. It’s darkly comedic and explores untreated mental illness in my family.
What are you working on now?
My YA debut, My Summer of Love And Misfortune, is forthcoming in 2020 from Simon Pulse. The novel is about the wild, hilarious and fun shenanigans of an Asian-American teenager who fails high school and doesn’t get into any colleges. Her parents send her to Beijing so that she can sort of “find herself” and figure out what to do with her life.
What are you most looking forward to at UWRF19?
Eating delicious Balinese cuisine! But seriously, meeting an international talent of authors and interacting with smart and engaged readers.
Lindsay Wong is part of three Main Program panels, Millennial Memoir, The Karma of Comedy, and Writing Mental Health. Pick up your 4-Day or 1-Day Pass here. This is her website, and you can follow her on Twitter.