I am so, so, so excited to interview this wonderful member of the #WritersCommunity. I think, often times, writing and the pub community can seem like a scary place where everyone is at work on their craft. What I love most about this writer’s tweets are that she keeps it real and honest… and hilarious. I am so glad to have connected with her, and am really excited to learn more about her. Without further ado, Emma Yuan!
Hi there Emma! Here’s the question I always lead with: where are you at in your writing journey, and how did you get there?
Hey there, Ayana! I’m writing my second novel at present. Like many, I was initially inspired by JK Rowling’s commercial success with the Harry Potter series. Ever since, the successes of my journey largely stem from the support of my family, teachers, and (of course) fellow writers.
Can you pitch your current project(s)?
My WIP is a reimagining of the Mulan story!
I wanted to explore historical aspects of Ancient China while incorporating elements of Sci-Fi and Fantasy. It’s in very early stages, so I haven’t decided on a title yet. As of now, all I can promise are dragons, friendships, and possibly robots!
I’m… absolutely okay with all these things. What is your very favorite book, the one with the frayed paged and cracked spine that you can’t stop re-reading?
This is a tough one! I admit I’m not a big re-reader; I’m always looking for new books to add to my (increasingly crowded) shelf! However, I have an illustrated edition of Game of Thrones that I’m quite proud of.
That sounds glorious! Shifting over to YOU, in your bio, you note that you are a Chinese #OWNVoices fantasy writer. Can you talk about why you choose to write #OWNvoices stories, and how identity impacts your stories?
I love that my identity is a significant aspect in the themes and characters expressed in my work.
I was adopted at 11 months old and grew up in a typical American family, so my WIP is a “reflection” (no Mulan pun intended there) of both western and eastern culture. I don’t conform, and neither will my writing! #OWNVoices is a wonderful opportunity for me explore my culture through a medium in which I’m most comfortable (writing!). Of course I hope all audiences can enjoy my stories, but I specifically write #OWNvoices because I want my characters to reach real Chinese people who don’t see themselves represented in fiction. This is for them.
Brilliant! I'm so, so insurmountably happy to see more narratives ESPECIALLY in SFF. How do you manage life and other responsibilities alongside your writing?
Short answer, I don’t! I’m in my most challenging year of High School, and it’s super tough balancing homework, college admissions, along with a part-time job! I usually find time to work between classes or late at night.
Wow! You are leaps and bounds ahead of the game! How do you combat writer’s block and/or tough critiques of your writing?
I’m fortunate enough to be blessed with an overabundance of ideas, the problem for me comes with finding time to put them on paper!
As for tough critiques, I try to respond to cold hard truth with objective reasoning. When deciding whether or not to take advice, I put my own feelings aside and be honest with myself.
You’ve got a never-ending plate of your favorite food--what’s on it?
I’d have to say pork dumplings! I’m not @moody_dumpling for nothing, you know!
Fair. What advice do you have for aspiring writers, particularly those from underrepresented/marginalized backgrounds?
I can’t say I’m in any sort of position to give advice, but I can tell you what’s worked for me!
Don’t wait for inspiration, go and seek it out!
As tempting as it can be to get lost in a fictional word of your own creation, some of your best experiences may be happening right in front of you, so pay attention!
Also, take time to support your fellow writers. If you’re from an underrepresented background, I urge you not to give up, and not to let other voices drown you out! Your stories deserve to be told, and the people that matter are listening.
I love it! Okay, bonus Question! You have the option to go to one country a day for a month, or stay in one country for the whole month? Which do you pick, where do you go, and why?
I’ve talked quite a bit about China already, so for the sake of this question I’m going to cite my recent obsession with the beautiful French Polynesia (specifically Tahiti!). This girl needs a month-long beach vacay! Give me an aquamarine ocean paired with endless white sands any day.
What a beautiful pick! You're making me glad it's nearly summer! Want to know more about Emma and her writing? Follow her on Twitter! Thanks so much, Emma! Looking forward to following along on your journey!