Author Interview: A Chat with Dumpling’s Wai Chim

Author Interview: A Chat with Dumpling’s Wai Chim

Author Interview with Wai Chim | The Surprising Power of a Good Dumpling

I am SO excited to be bringing you guys an interview/chat I had with Wai Chim, the author of one of my newest favourite YA contemporaries The Surprising Power of a Good Dumpling (See my 5-star review HERE). I related so much to this novel and it was a pleasure to get to pick Wai’s brain a little about it and about her general author life.

Here it is!

Author Interview: A Chat with Wai Chim

 

1. Hi! How are you? I’m sure you must have had a hectic schedule with the release of this beautiful pink book.

It’s been a doozy but really really wonderful to have everyone’s enthusiasm and support. 🙂

2. The Surprising Power of a Good Dumpling isn’t your first novel but does it feel different? Can you describe in 5 words how it feels to have this book be published and out into the wild?

Heartwarming, magical, a bit overwhelming! XD

3. How did you get into writing?

Since I was a young teenager, I’ve always kept a journal and written stuff down, just observations, musings and overly dramatic teen emotions. When I finished and uni and was working for the first time, it really became more apparent that writing was what I wanted to ‘do’ and how I wanted to carve out my purpose. And it took a while to figure how to do this (I thought I would be working as a copywriter or journalist or something) but I’m so glad I found my way to being a YA author.

4. How do you get inspired to create such heartwarming stories? Was there something in particular that inspired you to write Anna’s story?

For Anna’s story, I set out with the idea that I really wanted to explore/understand the stigma in Chinese culture around mental health. I’ve seen so many families, including my own, that have suffered so much because they end up feeling helpless, misinformed, ‘cursed’ etc. I really wanted to offer comfort, understanding, support empathy and most importantly, love to someone who might need it because of what they’re going through.

5. I related to so many of the experiences in this book as an Asian young girl growing up in Australia, and related even more when it came Rory and Anna’s relationship and their experiences with mental health. In brief, I related to a LOT of things – but at the end of the day, what did you hope to achieve by bringing up and discussing key topics like mental health, its stigma, casual racism and more in Dumpling?

It means so so much to me that you related to all of those elements! Because, at the end of the day, I think that’s all I really wanted to do. This is the book that I would have LOVED to have had as a 16-year-old – especially because so many of the ideas and emotions that I write about in the book weren’t things that I could talk about with my family or friends. I’m just really overwhelmingly grateful that so many readers feel the same way.

6. From my research, I can see that you’re very well travelled. What’s one thing you learnt from each country you lived in for some time?

Wow. Okay. From growing up in the States, I learned to express yourself fully and that it’s okay to be overly excited about everything! (Australians always laugh at how over the top enthusiastic Americans are about EVERYTHING! 😀 )

From living in Japan, I learned A LOT about how human beings, as a species, think about race and identity – because it was the first time I experienced a very different type of racism/microaggression? The best example I can give you is a Japanese student I was teaching once told me that I used chopsticks really well…to which I replied, “I’m Chinese.” And they gave me the longest blankest stare before it finally registered. So our internal biases aren’t solely based on appearance..it was an interesting eye-opener for me to mull over.

From Australia, I learned to laugh at myself and to not take things so seriously. 😀 I think there’s a beautiful, relaxed, self-awareness built into Australian culture and that self-deprecating humour and outlook is so healthy and necessary.

7. Although I personally am not an aspiring writer, many other bloggers and readers are – what are your top 3 tips for writing and pursuing the dream of being an author?

Top 3 tips:

– Work really hard. It’s not easy and the whole process can get overwhelming but you just have to chip away bit by bit and keep at it. Writing is a marathon and it’s about staying power.

– Be KIND. The industry can seem really really unfair, but there are so many lovely people and everyone, for the most part, genuinely trying to help. There are jobs to be done and it’s important that through your journey you recognise what those are and how you fit int that outlook.

– Make the experience work for you. Don’t try to follow someone else’s model or idea of what ‘being an author’ means. Listen to your heart and what it wants and do your best to make that happen.

8. Being an author is obviously a tough job, do you have a writing and reading routine to help you achieve a healthy work-life balance?

I don’t know about ‘healthy’ but it took me awhile to figure out what worked for me. I actually work full-time as a web developer on top of writing and it’s because, for me, I needed something analytical and practical to balance my creative nature. The day to day problem solving keeps me busy and then I write in big sprints on the weekends. This works for me, and I know it won’t work for everyone but never be afraid to do what you need to to make it happen

8. Being an author is obviously a tough job, do you have a writing and reading routine to help you achieve a healthy work-life balance?

I don’t know about ‘healthy’ but it took me a while to figure out what worked for me. I actually work full-time as a web developer on top of writing and it’s because, for me, I needed something analytical and practical to balance my creative nature. The day to day problem solving keeps me busy and then I write in big sprints on the weekends. This works for me, and I know it won’t work for everyone but never be afraid to do what you need to to make it happen.

9. What is your favourite dumpling or Asian dish? Any general must-have recommendations for us?

Oh man! I think my go-to dumpling is har gow (prawn dumplings). They are the yum cha dish that many Cantonese families judge the quality of a restaurant on. Other than har gow, I’m a sucker for wonton noodles, bbq pork, dry beef noodles – basically all the Cantonese comfort foods! 😀 I do also have a huge soft spot for xiaolongbao. 🙂

10. Is there any chance we may read more of Anna’s story or perhaps someone else we’ve already been introduced to in Dumpling? What’s next for you?

😀 There won’t be a sequel or companion novel I don’t think, but I am considering releasing some previously unseen material for DUMPLING at a later stage. 😉 We’ll see. In the meantime, I am actually taking a bit of a writing break as putting DUMPLING together has really taken everything out of me! 😀 So I guess, the answer is…stay tuned.

Wai Chim

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Wai Chim is a first-generation Chinese-American from New York City. She grew up speaking Cantonese at home and absorbing Western culture through books, TV and school. She spent some time living in Japan before making Sydney, Australia, her permanent home. Her previous books include the Chook Chook series and Shaozhen, part of the Through My Eyes: Natural Disaster Zone series. Her novel Freedom Swimmer was shortlisted for the inaugural Readings Young Adult Book Prize and the Sakura Medal, and was a Children’s Book Council Notable Book. In addition to writing, Wai works as a digital producer/web developer for The Starlight Children’s Foundation.

 

I hope you guys enjoyed this interview, I definitely did! Her answers were perfect and I hope they were helpful for all aspiring writers out there. I can’t wait to read more from her in the future and do my own re-read of Dumpling since I loved it so much.

 

Until next time,

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