Su-May Tan

Take 5 with Su-May Tan!

This is a post to let you know about  Su-May Tan’s debut short-story collection  Lake Malibu and other stories. The collection was longlisted in the Carmel Bird Digital Book Awards and has just been shortlisted in the short-fiction category in the 2022 Queensland Literary Award.

Su-May Tan was born and raised in Malaysia and moved to Australia in 2012.   I first heard about a writer called Su-May Tan back in 2018 when I had a conversation about names and pseudonyms.  At the time, I was having second thoughts about publishing under my real name because there was already a high-profile Emily Sun Australian musician. That was when the person I was in conversation with told me about a talented emerging writer whose name is the same as the OG Asian-American writer and author of The Joy Luck Club.  The talent he spoke of is of course Su-May who I  serendipitously met only a few months after that conversation!

Su-May was born and raised in Malaysia and migrated to Australia in 2012. The stories in the book are set in both Australia and Malaysia and more specifically Melbourne, Kuala Lumpur. and Ipo. As I was reading the stories in the collection, I found myself meditating upon cultural and national identity, and experienced a sense of nostalgia for worlds that have never been mine.


What inspired you to write Lake Malibu and other stories?
I started writing these stories 10 years ago to teach myself the craft of writing. Along the way, I noticed a similar theme of people living on the fringe, trying to break convention and carve a place for themselves in the world.

How long does it take for you to write a book and what is your work schedule like when
you’re working?
I think it would take me about two years to write a book. If I’m working on something, I would wake up at 6am and write for half an hour or so before work, and another hour at night after the kids are asleep.

What have been the challenges, if any, in carving out a writing career when you are the primary carer for your kids?

Lack of time. There’s just too much going on with three kids. It’s hard to prioritise writing when someone needs to be fed or driven somewhere or is unwell.

When did you first realise you wanted to be a writer, and what has the journey been like thus far?
I think it was when I saw the name Amy Tan emblazoned in gold in a bookshop. I must have been a teenager maybe, when The Joy Luck Club came out.

I know you as Amy Tan! Have you ever thought about writing under that name?  [I’m being cheeky here, you can totally ignore that question]
Ha yes, that’s why I write using a pen name. No, I never considered it, she is too big a legend.

Who are your favourite writers?
Rattawut Lapcharoensap, Yoko Ogawa,  and Jennifer Down.

What is next for Su-May Tan?
I am revisingI am revising a YA fiction manuscript, hopefully find a publisher or agent for it.

You can find out more about Su-May at on her website and follow her on  Insta: @sumaytan.writes

Buy the book from  Spineless Wonders Shop


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