Grace A. Johnson
Author Interview: Linyang Zhang
Over the last few months, Linyang Zhang has become a great friend! She is budding young author with a sweet personality and a love for God, and, just as I have enjoyed getting to know her, I hope that you will take the time to get to know her as a person and a teenaged indie author!
You will remember that this day one month ago was National Indie Author day, and I took the time to support some of my fellow authors and interviewed R. M. Archer. If you haven't yet, you can read my indie author post here. I just finished reading one of R.M.'s books, The Mirror-Hunter Chronicles, and you can read my review of it here!
I told y'all then that I would be taking a day each month to share another one of my Christian indie author friends with you, and I'm following up on that promise!
Today, you get to meet Linyang!
Linyang Zhang is a Chinese-American Christian who has an affinity for coffee ice cream and lemon pastries. She enjoys learning new languages and dabbles in translation. She writes to glorify her King and to touch the souls of others. When she's not studying, sleeping, or working on a project she enjoys Christopher Nolan movies, listening to music, and watching anime. She currently resides in Eastern Mass as a student.
As a reader, I love learning about what inspires and prompts authors to write. Sometimes, that's the books they read, the movies they watched, their childhood experiences, or even what they do when they're not writing.
GJ: What first inspired you to write?
LZ: Most likely reading. I had a very strong love for reading as a child. I remember when I was around eight or so saying that I didn’t want to write stories, only to read them, but I think one day I found that the stories I wanted to read the most were the ones inside me. Most of my early story ideas were inspired off of books that I really enjoyed as well.
GJ: What are the driving forces behind your writing now?
LZ: One main reason why I write is to touch readers’ hearts and souls, to make them think about things in a different way than they would before. I also want to experiment with combining elements from Eastern and Western fiction to create something completely unique. But most of all I want to spread the Truth that sets men free.
GJ: Can you name any authors who have inspired your voice in different ways? How can you see their influence in your writing?
LZ: One thing I noticed about myself is, if I write right after reading something, I write like that author. If I was reading Gone With the Wind, I start using long sentences. If I was reading Charles Dickens, my writing starts carrying a Victorian feel to it. I think that Ray Bradbury was one of the authors that I admired most; I really love his prose and try to emulate it in my own writing. But overall, I think I’ve developed a pretty unique voice for myself that I’m satisfied with.
GJ: What are some of your most favorite books/genres—to read and to write?
LZ: Some of my favorite books would include The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, East of Eden by John Steinbeck, Night on the Galactic Railroad by Kenji Miyazawa, My Sweet Orange Tree by José Mauro de Vasconcelos, Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens, and Fahrenheit 451 and Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury. Nowadays I mostly read classic lit and manga. While I don’t care much for reading fantasy, I really enjoy writing it because of the freedom it allows for creating new worlds. I think I’ll focus on contemporary fiction more in the future, however.
GJ: What do you do when you aren’t writing?
LZ: I make music! I play piano and make arrangements and covers, and I’ve also started dabbling in digital music. I occasionally watch some anime and play some games, as well. But most of the time you can find me studying or sleeping.
Linyang has some published works, which you can read on Webnovel. It's always more interesting to the author's "side of the story" that book reviews and descriptions often don't tell us.
GJ: You have two stories published on Webnovel—can you tell me a little bit about them?
LZ: Sure thing! The first is a short story called Yanhua (meaning Fireworks) split into seven parts. It follows a day in the life of a boy who is given a premonition of a terrible future, as well as a choice to change it. It’s probably the first and only thing that I’m proud of writing, actually.
The second is a novella called Abluvion, and it’s a bit of an afterthought to one of my current projects, set in a time thousands of years after the end of aforementioned project. It’s a post-apocalyptic story about a guy who wakes up with a mission to kill a certain someone. As to why, he is yet to find out.
GJ: Which story was the easiest to write, and what was the hardest? Where did you stumble and second-guess yourself in your writing?
LZ: Yanhua was definitely the easiest. I have a better time with short stories than with long works. It’s harder for me to see the complete picture then.
As for Abluvion…to be completely honest I regret a bit for publishing it so soon, as there is still a lot I could work on with it. However, it’s also taught me several lessons: it’s okay to leave a story for a while before editing it again, editing and revisions are very important and hard to do, and that it’s best not to declare something as done while being impatient and tired. Maybe one day I’ll go back to edit it over again, but for now I’ll let it serve as a valuable reminder to myself.
GJ: What are you working on now?
LZ: I’m currently working on three different projects! I’ll share a little about the one that’s most important to me. It’s a fantasy saga called Thirteen Ways to Infinity split into thirteen installments, and if I were to sum the whole thing up simply, I’d say it’s about sinners who ate from the Tree of Life.
GJ: Do you mind sharing a little bit about your writing process for this story? Are you pantsing it or plotting it? How far along are you?
LZ: This story is the one that I first started writing, and back then, I had no idea that it was going to turn into what it is today. In fact, the most important premise I didn’t even come up with until a few months ago. I’d say that currently I have an overall vision for what is going to happen, but the outline for each installment is subject to change as I write. So I’d say a mixture of both pantsing and plotting, depending on how much I’ve thought about certain parts. Currently I’m working on part four out of thirteen, which I’m pretty excited about.
As an author, I know that there are a lot of emotions that go into writing (and that come out of it) and lessons that are to be learned. Not everyone learns the same things, and not everyone has the same advice for other aspiring authors. If you're interested in my take on some of the questions all writers ask, you can join me every Wednesday for Ask Ann-Marguerite ™: The Official Writer's Advice Column. But today, I've asked Linyang some of the deeper questions.
GJ: What are your thoughts for other aspiring writers on writing?
LZ: I’d say don’t hesitate to start writing! And once you do, make sure to practice, practice, practice. Try to write every day. And even if you get discouraged, remember that one day you’ll be able to look back and see how far you’ve gone.
GJ: What do you want your readers to take away from your writing?
LZ: I think mostly it would be enough for me if the reader feels something. Even if it’s something small, as long as they feel something that’s not completely bad, as long as they have something to think about sometimes, something that shows them something they haven’t seen before, that’d be enough for me.
GJ: Have you ever endured any discouragement being a young author? If so, what inspired you to persevere?
LZ: Sometimes after doing a review swap or asking for feedback and critique, I’ll be disappointed because I hadn’t realized that my writing was going a certain way, or that I still have a long way to go. But usually then I remind myself that feedback and critique will help me grow, and that they are part of the journey to accomplishing my dreams.
GJ: What are your greatest aspirations for your future, be it as a person or as a writer?
LZ: I have a lot of big dreams, most of which seem a bit ridiculous. But I think what I really want to aspire to do is to write something that kids will be forced to read in their high school English classes. Something that has literary merit and will last after I’m gone.
GJ: What has being a writer taught you?
LZ: Writing has taught me a lot of things. It’s taught me to have patience and to work hard, to be humble and have thick skin, and that killing characters actually isn’t as fun as we think it is. Being a writer, a creator of a fantasy world, has also put what it feels like to be God a little into perspective. Of course, these two things are on entirely different planes of existence, but through being a writer I’ve been able to understand a little more about the greatness of God.
It was so much fun to get to know Linyang on a more author-y level, and I hope that y'all will do your part to support indie authors and check out her work! You can also find her on her Instagram and her new website!
I really appreciate Linyang taking the time to let me interview her, and I can't wait to showcase more indie authors throughout the coming months!
Happy reading and Merry Christmas!