An Interview with Esmé Weijun Wang
Introducing Esmé Weijun Wang, the judge of the
Paper Darts Micro Fiction Award.
Esmé is the author of THE BORDER OF PARADISE: A NOVEL, named one of NPR's Best Books of 2016, and is the recipient of the 2016 Graywolf Nonfiction Prize for her forthcoming essay collection, THE COLLECTED SCHIZOPHRENIAS. Born in the Midwest to Taiwanese parents, Esmé lives in San Francisco.
Q: Describe your best ghost story:
At an artists' residency that took place in the shell of an old elementary school, I was placed in a haunted room. A plumber came to investigate the moaning sounds. On my last night, when there was a riot of knocking down the hall, the residency head barged into my room with a shotgun and sage.
Q: Describe your home:
It's cozy and absolutely not Marie Kondo'd—my husband, dog and I live in an Edwardian flat with a lot of... stuff. I would never call myself a collector, but over time I've accumulated a variety of tattered vintage things. The fireplace mantle has, among other knickknacks, a bottle of sea glass, a tile brought home from Spain, and a card written to my grandparents-in-law from the President on the occasion of their fiftieth anniversary.
Q: Where is your favorite place to read? To buy books?
This is a bit of a sad-sack answer, but I can't really read when I'm not in bed—because of chronic illness, being upright quickly exhausts me, and so it makes the most sense for me to read in bed. That said, I really love both of my beds; I have one in my office and one, obviously, in our bedroom. And my favorite place to buy books is Green Apple Books on the Park in San Francisco. They were so supportive of me and my debut novel, and the space is full of light and space.
Q: What book might people be surprised to find on your shelves?
Any one of the self-help books that I own, probably. Women, Food, and God by Geneen Roth is the first one that comes to mind.
Q: What is the thing that gets you out of bed in the morning?
Thyroid medication. I have hypothyroidism, among other medical issues, so I wake up, take a pill, and wait for twenty minutes (the minimum amount of time that must pass before I eat or drink) before getting out of bed.
Q: What is your most reliable antidote to negative thoughts?
Self-talk. Or I make lists. There's a thread of beautiful things that I occasionally add to on Twitter, and I usually add to it when I'm feeling sad, anxious, or afraid.