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Haunted houses and horrifying insects in Vietnam with Trang Thanh Tran
Episode 73rd May 2023 • Better Words • Michelle Gately & Caitlin Toohey
00:00:00 01:06:07

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Trang Thanh Tran writes speculative stories about food, belonging and the Vietnamese diaspora. When not writing, they can be found over-caffeinating on iced coffee and watching zombie movies. She Is A Haunting is their debut novel.

Our interview begins at  00:19

We've got a Substack publication now! On the last day of the month, we share recommendations for two things we reckon you should read/watch/listen to. The beauty of Substack is you can revisit all our old editions and comment on our episode updates to share your thoughts. Come say hi!

Caitlin recommends: The Trial by Laura Bates

An intense survival story about a group of teens stranded on an island after a plane crash. You'll be hooked from the start.

Michelle recommends: Homecoming by Kate Morton

A beautiful and moving novel exploring dark family secrets across parallel timelines in 2018 and 1959.

In this interview, we chat about:

  • How 'zombie ants' inspired so many elements of the haunting explored in the novel
  • How Trang revises her novels with a reverse outline spreadsheet and how this keeps tension and suspense throughout the novel
  • The ongoing consequences of families being split by an ocean
  • Feeling like an outsider in the country your parents called home
  • Weaving in historical research (without it taking over the story)
  • Exploring the relationship between 'expert' outsiders and marginalised communities
  • How music inspires Trang's writing process
  • Trang's journey to publication – within the year she'd allowed herself to explore writing
  • How it felt to see a full Vietnamese name on the New York Times bestseller list

Books and other things mentioned:

  • The Burning by Laura Bates
  • Just the Gist's episode on the Trashman Yacht Sinking
  • See the three covers of Kate Morton's Homecoming here
  • The Last of Us (TV series)
  • The She Is A Haunting playlist

Follow Trang @nvtran_

She Is a Haunting is available now. Thank you to Bloomsbury for providing us with copies in preparation for the interview.

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