Interview with Lindsay Wong5 min read

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Lindsay Wong is the author of the critically acclaimed, award-winning, and bestselling memoir The Woo-Woo, which was a finalist for Canada Reads 2019. She has written a YA novel entitled My Summer of Love and Misfortune. Wong holds a BFA in creative writing from the University of British Columbia and an MFA in literary nonfiction from Columbia University. She currently teaches creative writing at the University of Winnipeg. Follow her on Twitter @LindsayMWong, Instagram @Lindsaywong.M, or visit

Tell Me Pleasant Things about Immortality is a collection of 13 short stories that include elements of comedy, horror, and the supernatural. What was this writing process like? Do you have a favourite story? 

I half-joke in the Acknowledgements Section in TMPTAI  that “It is ghastly undertaking to write a book.” When I start a new book project, I ask myself, what have I gotten myself into?!! I think I must like to torture myself (who wants to spend days secluded in their apartment talking to themselves?) Funnily enough, I would be angry if I wasn’t writing and even more grumpy and irritable if I wasn’t. The writing process for this collection was interesting for me because I was drafting these stories when my debut, The Woo-Woo, was being rejected. I had written a few stories in Linda Svendsen’s class at UBC, and then a few in Rebecca Curtis’ workshop at Columbia. Short stories suddenly became a way for me to take a quick break away from thinking I was a terrible writer, to wondering if I had missed the mark with my memoir. All the rejections were devastating at that time. And if you come from a MFA background, I mean, cult, (joking!) and your entire cohort is getting major publishing deals and splashy announcements, you start thinking there is something really wrong with you and that maybe everyone has lied to you about having some “talent.” So feeling quite dejected, I applied and won a scholarship to Humber, studied with Jami Attenberg and then drafted the full story collection. Then I sort of forgot about the collection because my memoir did well, and I was occupied with other deadlines, and during the pandemic, I suddenly remembered I had a manuscript on Google Docs, haha.

I don’t have a favourite story, but I can say that I enjoyed writing TMPTAI  more considerably than the memoir. Many readers have told me they appreciate the humour of “Sorry, Sister, Eunice,” which is about a group of huli-jing, (nine-tail fox demons) who masquerade as Asian sorority sisters on campus at San Francisco State University, where they band together to survive until the threat of extinction is over. The sisters feast on undergraduate students and they bully their unattractive sister, Eunice. The story critiques social norms such as conventional beauty, wealth, and group-think behaviour. I’ve been told that this collection is weird, but I don’t think so?!

In Tell Me Pleasant Things about Immortality, readers experience tales of monsters, ghosts, and zombies. What draws you to writing about the supernatural? 

I grew up in a very superstitious Chinese household, and I don’t think there was a moment when I was being told a “ghost story” or thinking about death or monsters. I think in some ways, the supernatural serves as a vehicle or metaphor for talking about the horrors of everyday life, especially for BIPOC and marginalized individuals. Sometimes there are no words to describe a really horrific racist and/or gendered incident that can happen when you are a small woman of colour, so you turn to a particular myth or “monster” that can best tell that experience for you to make sense of it. In the story, “Kind Face, Cruel Heart,” for example, Junjie and his mother turn to the tradition of Cantonese talk-story and Chinese mythology to make sense of living in an underground concentration camp, where they have to harvest a mystical mushroom, which may or may not exist, which is supposed to grant the Emperor eternal life.

In memoirs and creative nonfiction, one is limited to the facts but sometimes the supernatural as metaphor or analogy conveys all these similar thoughts and feelings more vividly and powerfully. For people of colour, horror is often an everyday reality, and with TMPTAI, each story is about surviving and enduring everyday trauma. The monsters, ghosts and zombies are human in the collection, and they feel despair, sadness, and grief like we do. They might do horrible things to each other, but so do the humans in the collection.

Where, when, and how often do you write? 

I tend to write whenever I don’t have to teach class, or if I have a free quiet day. I find that I am not as productive when I have to be a decent human being, meaning that I have to be nice and social and somewhat thoughtful to others. When I can stay in my pyjamas and not shower and not leave the house, those times are the best for writing without disruption. The worst days for writing for me are when there are multiple meetings scheduled when there’s a group lunch, when there are groceries to buy, when cleaning has to be finished, and when someone plans a dinner. 80 percent of the day is gone, and I can’t get back to my quiet, grumpy space. I have to feel isolated and unhurried to write. I wake up, make a pot of coffee, eat candy or chocolate, and stare at my wall for 30 minutes. Some people are brilliant at multitasking, but I’m not one of them. I tend to write in my kitchen, home office, or in my bed. My neck and back are so fucked up, haha.



Lindsay Wong will be featured at LiterASIAN Festival 2024.  Please check out the lineup of the festival at

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