Kevin Chong is the author of six books of fiction and non-fiction, most recently the novel The Plague. Those titles have been named books of the year by Globe and Mail, National Post and Amazon.ca, listed for a CBC prize, a BC Book Prize and a National Magazine Award, optioned for film and TV, and published in the U.S., Europe and Australia. His creative non-fiction and journalism have recently appeared in the Guardian, the Times Literary Supplement, the Rumpus and the South China Morning Post. He lives in Vancouver with his family and teaches at UBC and the Writer’s Studio at Simon Fraser University.
Kevin’s advice for Writer’s Studio applicants
What are you looking for in your workshop group?
I’m looking for a good mix of personalities and backgrounds and students who are willing to listen and pore over their classmates’ work with as much care as they would their own.
What do you look for when reading an applicant’s submission?
I’m looking for an application letter that gives me a sense of a writer’s voice, their background and their current creative pursuits. (What I prefer not to see are discussions of how you were meant to be a writer since, say, age seven, when your teacher said you had a great talent, or any philosophizing about writing along the lines of, “We need stories to make sense of the world.”) As a writer and reader, my tastes run towards “literary” prose, so I look out for a compatible sensibility in the writing sample. Finally, I am appreciative of writers who produce written materials that are free of spelling, grammatical and formatting errors.