Q&A with Wendy Chen

We spoke with writer Wendy Chen ahead of her appearance at EWF this year in Lunchtime Lit: What Right Do I Have

What interests you as a writer?

Broadly speaking, my main areas of interest are in fiction, review writing, and activism-related opinion writing. In terms of fiction, I’ve always enjoyed speculative fiction and how it can utilise the most imaginative aspects of storytelling. Recently, though, I’ve been exploring and come to really appreciate non-fiction and realistic stories as well – I’ve found it particularly powerful in sharing the stories of people outside the mainstream. Historical fiction walks the line between these two forms perfectly, so it’s an area I’m particularly interested in at present. Generally, I write at my desk at home; I don’t have a specific routine for writing beyond that, other than often doing it late at night!

I’ve had a few pieces of creative writing appear in small publications in the past, including SpineOut and Something with Bite. I’ve also written a few pieces for that reminds me, an online magazine of personal reflections on pop culture, and recently contributed an opinion piece to Right Now.

I’ve long enjoyed reading Voiceworks, so it would be great to have my work published there at some point. Being published in The School Magazine would also be incredible – I loved reading the stories, poetry and comics in there when I was in primary school and really admire its pieces and authors. Beyond that, I’m keen for any opportunities to share my writing.

What are you working on right now?

I’ve written a fair bit of non-fiction in the first half of this year, so at present, I’m aiming to focus on creative writing. I’m in the planning phase for a historical fiction piece, which I’m hesitant to say more about at this stage as it’s still fairly experimental. I’m also tossing around concepts for a few speculative short stories and long-form manuscripts, as I like to have many ideas to think about at once, to keep me excited.

What have you read recently?

A recent favourite was Outrun the Moon by Stacey Lee, a Young Adult historical fiction novel about a fifteen-year-old girl from Chinatown attempting to follow her ambitions and dealing with the tragedy of the San Francisco earthquake in 1906. I fell in love with the humorous, emotional, and captivating narrative voice, and enjoyed being immersed in the characters’ lives and the vivid historical setting.

I’ve also been reading more non-fiction than usual recently, and found Her Father’s Daughter by Alice Pung incredibly moving; I loved her perceptions of growing into adulthood and her relationship with her parents, and though the portrayal of her father’s experience under the Cambodian genocide was confronting, it was also incredibly insightful and I’m so glad I read it.

What would you like to work on after your studies? What professional development would you like to receive?

After my studies, I’d like to continue what I’m doing now with writing: to continue learning and improving, and to focus on fiction but also to keep experimenting in other areas.

In terms of professional development, mentoring from more experienced writers in similar areas would be incredible. Whilst I always find general advice and workshops about the craft of writing useful, it’s with my own stories’ and pieces’ specific aspects that I have the most challenges with and learn the most from, so individual mentoring would help me a lot!

I’d also like to meet more writers (which I’m eager to do at EWF this year!) and find critique partners, which I know will be particularly useful once I have more fiction work under way!

Wendy Chen is a writer and student from New South Wales, with a focus on storytelling and humanitarian issues. She has been a youth ambassador for The Salvation Army since 2013, is Chinese-Australian, and has a particular passion for fiction, advocacy, and review writing. Her work has been published in SpineOut, Right Now and That Reminds Me.

You can see her at Lunchtime Lit: What Right Do I Have at the Emerging Writers’ Festival.