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A Conversation with ‘Best Debut Short Stories 2021’ Author Qianze Zhang
“Maybe being in a disorganized, overstimulated state of mind helped me evoke the anxiety of being on the internet while undergoing a process of ruthless self-evaluation.”
Where did you find the idea for this story?
What was your writing process like for this story?
The idea of hiding is prevalent throughout the story. Mandy hides her porn-watching habits and, later, her period. By the end of the story, she has started to resemble a character she created, Momoko. What is the significance of this transformation, and how is her self-invention impacted by how she thinks she should be seen or wants (or doesn't want) to be seen? Is she coming into her own and out of hiding, or conforming to societal standards? Both?
How has the Robert J. Dau Prize affected you?
What’s the best or worst writing advice you’ve ever received and why?
What are you currently working on?
Finally, where do you go to discover new writing?
More by this author
“Writing at a slow pace—or along the contours of what life personally looks like for you—is still writing.”
“Every story has a shape, you just have to figure out what it is and then let it be that shape, man.”
“I come from a culture that deifies the established and gatekeeps everything on their behalf. So it makes me glad that there are in fact spaces in the world where professional youth is celebrated.”