Shawn Wong

"How to Write a Novel in Only 30 Years" and "Defending Your Voice: Teaching Soldiers How to Tell Their Stories"

How to Write a Novel in Only 30 Years

Shawn WongWhile the title of the presentation is a joke, there’s a lot of truth in it. Award-winning author Shawn Wong’s first novel, Homebase, was published when he was 30. His second novel, American Knees, was published when he was 45, reducing the time by half. This raises several questions: What goes into a novel? What is the creative process like? And why does it take so long? People often talk about “the creative process,” but this conversation, led by Wong, will unpack that phrase and explore how a work of fiction is made. We will talk about how writing might move from something autobiographical to something fictional, how we construct fiction out of something real and how we “edit” the story of our lives through what we leave out and what we include.


Defending Your Voice: Teaching Soldiers How to Tell Their Stories

For the past year, author Shawn Wong, along with a team of teachers in the Red Badge Project, has been teaching veterans at Joint Base Lewis-McChord how to construct the stories of their lives in writing. Through the project, soldiers are able to translate and articulate their lives away from home, their experiences and their traumas to themselves, their families and a wider audience. Whether the narrative voice on the page is in the first person non-fiction voice of the soldier/writer or a surrogate fictional voice, the goal is the same – to be heard and understood. Wong will discuss what he has learned from this program and how communities and soldiers might learn to share, hear and understand the stories of our veterans. We will talk about how veterans’ stories can give us insight into the traumas of war.


About Shawn Wong

Shawn Wong’s first novel, Homebase, won a Washington State Governor’s Writers Day Award and Pacific Northwest Booksellers Award. His second novel, American Knees, was recently made into a film. Among Wong’s six other books is the landmark Aiiieeeee! An Anthology of Asian American Writers, a collection largely credited as the first to showcase Asian-American literature. He was featured in the Bill Moyers documentary Becoming American: The Chinese Experience. Currently, Wong is a professor of English at the University of Washington where, for the last 28 years, he has taught courses in fiction writing, screenwriting, Asian American literature, Chinese-American history, plus courses in travel writing at the UW campus in Rome, Italy.

Wong currently lives in Seattle and Pacific County.

For more information on how to book a speaker, please contact Zaki Abdelhamid at (206) 682-1770 x102 or by email.

Speakers Bureau 2012-14: Shawn Wong from Humanities Washington on Vimeo.

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