Vanessa Chan on How She Structured The Storm We Made
In Conversation with Mitzi Rapkin on the First Draft Podcast
First Draft: A Dialogue of Writing is a weekly show featuring in-depth interviews with fiction, nonfiction, essay writers, and poets, highlighting the voices of writers as they discuss their work, their craft, and the literary arts. Hosted by Mitzi Rapkin, First Draft celebrates creative writing and the individuals who are dedicated to bringing their carefully chosen words to print as well as the impact writers have on the world we live in.
In this episode, Mitzi talks to Vanessa Chan about her new novel, The Storm We Made.
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From the episode:
Mitzi Rapkin: So did you have any techniques for yourself either how you soothed yourself or how you wrote it or how you logistically went about writing it that helped you as the writer because the novel has so much trauma in it?
Vanessa Chan: I mean, you actually see my technique in the structure of the book. The book is structured the way I would want to read it, and the way I wanted to write it, where there are multiple points of views, so that you don’t have to stay so long with a particular point of view going through a particular terrible trauma, and you get to cut away to someone else, doing something else somewhere else. And I, as a writer, got to do that as well. That’s another reason why there’s an adult point of view in a different timeline because it allowed me to escape elsewhere. I personally didn’t want to have my mind in a labor camp for that long and I didn’t think the reader would want that. I don’t believe in gratuitous violence. I believe in honesty in the writing. I believe that we should tell it as it was especially with historical fiction. I don’t believe in romanticizing the past or protecting the reader, but I also don’t believe in dwelling in a particular assault scene just because.
Vanessa Chan was born and raised in Malaysia. Her short stories have been published in Electric Lit, Kenyon Review, Ecotone, and more. She was the 2021 Stanley Elkin scholar at the Sewanee Writers Conference and has also received scholar awards to attend the Bread Loaf and Tin House writers’ conferences. The Storm We Made is her first novel.