Episode 5: May, Maisie Chan
Next month debut author Maisie Chan’s first novel, Danny Chung Does Not Do Maths, is published. In this month’s piece she writes about feeling adrift from friends and family in the Midlands, the difficulties of writing your second novel and the lack of representation of British Chinese protagonists in children’s fiction.
Take a look at the rest of this year's digital programme on our website: https://www.birminghamliteraturefestival.org/.
For more information on Writing West Midlands, visit https://writingwestmidlands.org/
Follow the festival on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook @BhamLitFest
Curator: Shantel Edwards (Festival director)
Production: 11C/ Birmingham Podcast Studios for Writing West Midlands
BLF Newsletter Podcast Transcript: Episode 5, Maisie Chan
Welcome to the Birmingham Lit Fest Presents…podcast and our new series of commissioned writing about 2021. Each month we are commissioning a new writer to reflect on the month that has passed, offering us moments of connection through great writing and the opportunity to reflect about what we have collectively experienced at the end of the year.
We will be bringing you a new short episode at the start of each month, with each piece read by our guest writers. You can read the pieces on our website, where you will also find information about our upcoming digital events.
Hi, I’m Maisie Chan and I wrote May’s piece for the Birmingham Literature Festival.
I’ll start this blog in a very British way and talk about the weather. May is usually ‘the summer’ in Glasgow, which is where I now live, and the hottest month of the year for us. But not this year. It’s been damp and grey. I’m feeling a little grey myself. I haven’t been able to travel to Birmingham to see my friends and family since 2019. I feel discombobulated.
However, I have to live in the present moment and May has been up and down, I won’t lie.
I’m trying to work on multiple writing projects at once which is great as I’m now a full-time writer. I am learning to juggle, however, as I have around four book projects on the go at once and I’m pitching for a children’s TV show, hoping to get my first screenwriting credits in children’s animation. I feel split down the middle with one part of me in ‘debut author’ mode and the other in drafting mode.
I’m writing a new novel, which is going very slowly and like pulling teeth. And at the same time, I am promoting my debut novel, Danny Chung Does Not Do Maths, a children’s book out in June. It’s an exciting thought to know a book I started writing in 2018 is going to hit the shelves. And I’m feeling both elated and a little scared that my first novel will be out there, for people to read and judge. It’s not lost on me that my book will be one of the very few with a British Chinese boy on the front cover, there aren’t many even in 2021. Hate crimes against East and Southeast Asians (ESEA) all over the world have increased massively and I hope that my small contribution can help make people like me more visible in the world of children’s publishing. If we aren’t seen at all, then are we real? Are we human?
I am in ‘second novel syndrome’ which according to many published authors is very real! I definitely feel it. When you write your first novel, it’s not usually under contract, so you can take your time. For the second one, however, you have a smaller time scale in which to write it (mainly for children’s novelists who churn out a novel a year it seems). It’s not been the most inspiring year, my creative well has not been filled. I’ve spent a lot of time stuck inside.
As I bid a farewell to the month of May and prepare to welcome June, with my book launch and birthday around the corner and the hope of sunny skies, I give thanks as I am going to get my first vaccination this month. Perhaps that is the most prized thing of all?
Signing off. A true Gemini.
Thank you for listening to this week’s episode of the Birmingham Lit Fest presents…podcast. Follow us on Instagram, twitter and Facebook @bhamlitfest. All information about the festival and upcoming events can be found on our website www.birminghamliteraturefestival.org. The Birmingham Lit Fest Presents... podcast is produced by 11C and Birmingham Podcast Studios for Writing West Midlands.