Kevin Chong is the author of four books, most recently a novel entitled Beauty Plus Pity and a non-fiction book on horse-racing. His writing has appeared in the Globe and Mail, The Walrus, The TorontoStar, Maclean's, Chatelaine, FASHION, Vancouver Magazine, and the CBC Arts website. He's an editor at Joyland.ca and teaches Creative Writing at UBC.
RUSTY TALK WITH KEVIN CHONG
Kathryn Mockler: How did you first come to writing?
Kevin Chong: In my teen years, I fancied myself an intellectual type with literary aspirations.I don't think a lot has changed except that I got older, started writing.
KM: What keeps you going as a writer?
KC: On tough days, I daydream about becoming a train conductor or lab technician, but then I realize I am 36 and completely unemployable.
KM: What is the revision process like for you?
KC: I need to take the book as far as I can then find someone to tell me hard truths that I don't want to face about my work. Then I need to strategize: think about the best way to tackle big picture stuff. Then I sit down and rework the piece, point by point. I don't start a new draft from a fresh computer file like some people I know; filling up one doc file can be hard enough.
KM: How did you deal with rejection when you first started out?
KC: I still deal with it! You tell yourself that people have different points of view and different motives for publishing work, and that it may not be your fault. Then you start to think which parts of that feedback is irrelevant, or whether it is worth your time to alter your work to suit a certain market.
KM: A piece of literary advice for new writers?
KC: Don't buy into the myth of what a writer's life should be. It may or may not include fancy galas, drinking whiskey, or working in seclusion in a log cabin. Those are all cliches unto themselves. Just do the work of writing, and you will lead a writer's life.
KEVIN CHONG'S MOST RECENT BOOK
Beauty Plus Pity, 2011 Arsenal Pulp Press
Description from Arsenal Pulp Press
"Beauty plus pity—that is the closest we can get to a definition of art." —Vladimir Nabokov
In this tragicomic modern immigrant's tale, Malcolm Kwan is a slacker twentysomething Asian-Canadian living in Vancouver who is about to embark on a modelling career when his life is suddenly derailed by two near-simultaneous events: the death of his filmmaker father, and the betrayal of his fiancée who has left him. Soon he meets Hadley, the half-sister he never knew existed―the result of his father's extramarital affair―and as their tentative relationship grows, Malcolm is forced to confront his past relationships with women, including his own mother, an art teacher working through her grief as well as her resentment at her son befriending her husband's daughter.
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