Interview With an Author: Regina Kanyu Wang

Daryl M., Librarian, West Valley Regional Branch Library,
Author Regina Kanyu Wang and her latest work collection, The Way Spring Arrives
Author Regina Kanyu Wang and her latest work collection, The Way Spring Arrives

Regina Kanyu Wang, an editor, is a bilingual writer from Shanghai who writes both in Chinese and English. She has won the SF Comet international short story competition and multiple Xingyun Awards for Global Chinese SF. Her stories can be found in various magazines and anthologies, as well as her two individual collections, Of Cloud and Mist 2.2 and The Seafood Restaurant. She is the co-founder of SF AppleCore and the Overseas Market Director of Storycom, and will soon join the CoFUTURES project at the University of Oslo to research contemporary Chinese science fiction by female creators. Her latest work collection is The Way Spring Arrives and she recently talked about it with Daryl Maxwell for the LAPL Blog.

What was your inspiration for The Way Spring Arrives?

I think it was the right historical moment to come up with such a project. In the spring of 2019, Emily Xueni Jin and I visited New York together and had a lovely discussion with Lindsey Hall and Ruoxi Chen. Chinese science fiction has been popular among global readers with the translation and publication of a variety of stories, novels, and anthologies. Women and other historically marginalized-identity writers have won more attention in the speculative fiction community. It would just be meaningful and valuable to have an anthology edited, written, and translated by an all-woman-and-non-binary team. We all thought this a cool idea and decided to make it happen!

What was your process for putting together this collection? Did you ask writers for stories that fit your theme, open up the submission process, or did you approach it in a different way?

It is a dynamic and collaborative process to put together this collection. Storycom has been dedicated to making Chinese science fiction seen by a wider audience, but I hadn’t been an editor myself before. So we reached out to Yu Chen, who by then worked at Shanghai Literary and Art Publishing House and had abundant experience in editing both within and outside of the genre. I asked writers for stories that fit our theme, Yu Chen did the first round of reading, we discussed and she wrote a synopsis and recommendations for the stories that we both agree on. Then Lindsey and Ruoxi provided their feedback based on their knowledge and expertise. We did this for several rounds, adjusting our approaches but insisted on choosing good stories. In the end, we have stories that are written and published in Chinese many years ago, stories that are written in English directly, and stories that are specifically written in Chinese for this anthology. Then I reached out to translators and Emily provided lots of suggestions to match the suitable translators with suitable stories. We also have 5 pieces of essays that we solicited and we are very happy with the final table of contents!

Do you have a favorite earlier or longer work from female or nonbinary writers you were not able to include?

Yes, definitely there are quite a few longer works that we couldn’t include due to the length limitation! One of my personal favorites is Li Duan 丽端’s No Trace of Crying Blood 啼血无痕, which is part of her fantasy novella series God’s Sorrow 神觞. The story knits together the mythology of the cuckoo, Emperor Wang 望帝, and ancient Chinese poems. It is beautifully written and heart-touching!

A favorite in another medium (novel, television, motion picture or some other media)?

Little Mushroom by Shisi! It’s an online dan mei fiction serialized on Jinjiang, narrating the apocalypse scene from the perspective of a protagonist who’s a mushroom. It is published in book format and translated into English. The audio drama adaptation in Chinese is also amazing!

Were there any special challenges involved in editing The Way Spring Arrives?

I don’t think there were any real challenge because everyone involved were so excited and happy about this project, and each of us also know our field well. The actual challenge is with the logistics, like transferring the payment internationally and mailing the books internationally during the pandemic. But in the end, all difficulties were conquered.

Are there any common misperceptions about what you do as an Editor that you would like to explain/correct?

I haven’t taken on the role of editor for long, so I may be biased. One thing I find out via working on the recent projects is that editors not only work on the text level but also on the project level. At least for me, besides choosing the good stories/contents, I also need to collaborate with so many other people in the whole publishing chain in order to make the book a pretty baby.

As an Editor, what do you wish writers, especially newer ones, knew or understood about the process of submitting a story for possible inclusion in an anthology on which you are working?

I have a dual role here because I am also a writer. I think the theme and scope of the anthology might influence a lot whether you will be included. If not selected for one project, don’t be discouraged. The story might just be not suitable instead of not good.

What’s currently on your nightstand?

I am working on having The Way Spring Arrives and Other Stories translated into and published in more languages together with collaborators in different countries. Also, there are two other books that are co-edited by me that just came out: The Making of The Wandering Earth: A Film Production Handbook and New Voices in Chinese Science Fiction.

Can you name your top five favorite or most influential authors?

Wang Anyi, Ursula K. Le Guin, Ken Liu, Xia Jia, Chen Qiufan.

What was your favorite book when you were a child?

Pride and Prejudice.

Was there a book you felt you needed to hide from your parents?

Not really, but I had to hide Sailor Moon manga from my teacher.

Is there a book you've faked reading?

Dune. I’ve only watched the movie!

Can you name a book you've bought for the cover?

Oh, you can’t imagine how many illustration books I bought for the covers…

Is there a book that changed your life?

Ursula K. Le Guin’s Annals of the Western Shore.

Can you name a book for which you are an evangelist (and you think everyone should read)?

Hyperion by Dan Simmons.

Is there a book you would most want to read again for the first time?

The City & The City by China Miéville.

What is the last piece of art (music, movies, tv, more traditional art forms) that you've experienced or that has impacted you?

The Wandering Earth: Beyond 2020 Special Edition.

What is your idea of THE perfect day (where you could go anywhere/meet with anyone)?

Waking up without an alarm clock, having a lovely breakfast, taking a walk in the nature, reading some pages next to a lake, heading back home and cooking with my partner, writing for a few hours after lunch, chatting with my mom and meeting friends in the night.

What is the question that you’re always hoping you’ll be asked, but never have been? What is your answer?

What would you like to be when you were a small kid?
A comic artist or voice actress!

What are you working on now?

I am working on my Ph.D. project that focuses on women writers of Chinese science fiction, and also co-editing a fanzine.

Book cover for The Way Spring Arrives and Other Stories
The Way Spring Arrives and Other Stories