Wombwell Rainbow Interviews: Eva Wong Nava

Wombwell Rainbow Interviews

I am honoured and privileged that the following writers, local, national and international have agreed to be interviewed by me. I gave the writers two options: an emailed list of questions or a more fluid interview via messenger.
The usual ground is covered about motivation, daily routines and work ethic, but some surprises too. Some of these poets you may know, others may be new to you. I hope you enjoy the experience as much as I do.

OPEN FA cover_Book edition 170118 copy[100004]

Eva Wong Nava

Eva Wong Nava is an Art Historian, Educator and Writer. She founded CarpeArte Journal where she publishes her fiction and ramblings of the art sort while leaving room for others to do the same. She lives between two worlds, literally and physically, and is based in a small city-state not far from the equator. When not doing anything else, she reads copiously and writes voraciously, always wishing there were more hours in the day to do more with the written word. Her Flash Fiction is published in various places and she is the author of a children’s book which encourages young readers to be more compassionate to people on the Autism Spectrum.

The Interview

What inspired you  to write flash fiction?

I’ve been writing short stories for a long time. These stories aren’t very long, say, between 1,000 to 3,000 words. Later, I discovered that this type of short story has a name of its own — Flash Fiction. It’s known by other names, like postcard fiction, micro-fiction (although this is normally 100 – 300 words long) and/ or sudden fiction. I prefer Flash Fiction.

I love the tightness of Flash because in as little as 100 words, the writer has told a story with a beginning, middle and end. It’s great practice for honing the craft of writing. It makes the writer choose words with care for impact and precision.

I write to help me express the thoughts that meander in my head from overheard conversations, from watching people, from looking at art, from reading personal stories, from listening to the radio, from a piece of music, from someone behaving badly, from a child crying desperately, from a man weeping at the bus stop, from a woman throwing her head back as she chortles in amusement.

I write to find catharsis.

What is your daily writing routine?

I tend to write early  in the morning, sleepy-eyed, gummy-mouthed, and longing for coffee which I make once I type in my first thought of the day. This is usually something I’d been dreaming about that I feel is finding its way to becoming a story. After the first sip of caffeine, the foggy shadows of sleep dissipate. The smudged layers of thoughts surface as I type away until hunger calls. I look at the clock on the computer and 6 hours have passed.

What motivates you to write?

I write so that stories never die. Stories are immortal, good and bad ones. I write to keep myself sane. It’s something I’ve always done in between the twilight years of being an infant-child-adult and the spacy long-drawn days of being a wife-mother.

What is your work ethic?

To always stay true to the craft of textual storytelling.

How do the writers you read when you were young influence you today?

I love how language gets thrown about, how words are juxtaposed with poetry and how the imagination takes readers to places where they don’t want to return. The writers who’ve influenced me are many as their words remained ingrained in my unconscious. I love the Latin American writers for their magic-realism, a genre, which I love but find hard to write in. I think it takes miracles to see so much magic in pain and tragedy. I love the Russian writers for their long drawn-out storytelling; they are craftsmen for investing their novels with that many characters. I love foreign language books translated into English: they tell me that textual storytelling–the craft of writing a good story–is the same all over the world.

Who of today’s writers do you admire the most and why?

There are many writers I admire. I love Murakami, Ishiguro, Kundera, Rushdie, Roth, Marquez, Tan Twan Eng. Not forgetting Amy Tan, Zoe Heller, Carol Joyce Oates, Tara Westover, Celeste Ng, Allende. These are excellent writers, I feel, who understand the structure of stories, the techniques that are needed to tell good yarns that keep the readers beholden. They write about contemporary issues (as all writers do from Jane Austen to Charles Dickens) that highlight the human condition so vividly and scatologically. Their stories are bittersweet, dark and funny; they are memorable.

Why do you write?

For sanity, literally and figuratively.

What would you say to someone who asked you “How do you become a writer?”

Passion for the written word.

Tell me about the writing projects you have on at the moment.

I’m putting together a collection of Flash inspired by art for publication. I founded an online platform–CarpeArte Journal– where I’m managing editor. I publish my own pieces and other people’s short stories, poems and reviews. These pieces have all been inspired by visual art. I ask that writers submit their work inspired by art, however, to include those whose works haven’t been, I’ll find a piece of artwork which I feel segues into their written pieces. There have been pieces where the writer submitted without an accompanying image; I let the story or poem linger in my dreamspace until an artwork emerges. The journal is gaining some traction in the Flash writing world and I’ve been privileged to read and publish some outstanding stories and poems. I’m seeking submissions for 2019, by the way, if anyone is interested.

Connecting art and text is very dear to my heart as an art historian. Editing the Journal means that I get to be in touch with some excellent writers, as well as, engage with art through their work. What delights me is that I get to write about art.

While thinking about  and penning Flash, I also write children’s books. It’s a genre that I love as it allows me to connect with my inner child. My debut children’s novel helps middle-graders to be more compassionate to individuals on the Autism Spectrum. At the moment, I’m working on my next children’s book–a picture book that will help young readers understand a condition known as Selective Mutism.

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