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Asian Heritage in Horror Month: An Interview with Olivia Bing




What inspired you to start writing?

Drawing gives me carpal tunnel, so I must externalize my thoughts through other mediums. More importantly, I was first inspired by great stories that kept me reading till the sun came up. I wanted to write like those authors and create exciting worlds and loveable characters.

What draws you to the horror genre?

I’m drawn to the elusiveness of horror and all the endless ways to make people scared. Horror is an amazingly confronting genre, which both pushes characters to their limits and conveys powerful themes, such as grief and denial.

Do you include Asian and/or Pacific Islander characters and themes in your writing with purpose, and if so, what do you want to portray?

Yes, I want to portray themes of isolation and otherness, which tie into character feelings and development. These feelings are core to my protagonist in my manuscript, as a lonely Chinese girl in a small, New Zealand town.

What has writing horror taught you about the world and yourself?

It’s taught me that there’s creepiness everywhere! It can be as simple as black mold blooming on a ceiling, or a marble rolling across the floor. Writing horror has also taught me how passionate I am about the whole writing process and craft. I want to write funny, scary, and most importantly, something meaningful.

How have you seen the horror genre change over the years? How do you think it will continue to evolve?

The internet and social media have made the dynamics of horror very interesting, because now we’re seeing the rise of storytelling means like ARGs, indie horror games, and short stories, to name a few. The genre has been changing along with it, and I’m seeing a lot of uncanny horror at the moment, like The Backrooms ARG and The Oldest View YouTube series—which are subtle enough to leave people wondering if somehow, somewhere, these worlds could exist.

How do you feel the Asian and/or Pacific Islander communities have been represented thus far in the genre and what hopes do you have for representation in the genre going forward?

In the past, Asian communities have not been represented well in Western horror, at least in the work that reaches the general public. In recent years it’s become better, with the HWA and other organizations spotlighting Asian and Pacific Peoples’ voices. I’m optimistic that there will be continued representation and recognition of works from all around the globe.

Who are some of your favorite Asian and/or Pacific Islander characters in horror?

More horror-adjacent, but Yuko Moriguchi in Kanae Minato’s Kokuhaku (Confessions). Her ruthlessness terrifies me.

Can you recommend some Asian and/or Pacific Islander horror authors for our readers to check out?

Lee Murray, queen of New Zealand horror (and my amazing mentor). She is fantastic at conveying both an underlying dread that rises over time, and instant, in-your-face scares! Her short story, Selfie, still leaves me uneasy whenever I think about it. I also recommend Lani Young. I’m currently reading Mata Oti, her zombie apocalypse book set in Samoa. I love her unique spin on the subgenre, and her action descriptions have me transfixed.

What is your best advice for horror authors today?

For me, it’s quite easy to focus purely on an action-packed plot, and a creepy setting. Don’t forget character development (if that’s what you’re going for)! I tend to neglect it, and later wonder why my work lacks emotional resonance.

And to the Asian and/or Pacific Islander writers out there who are just getting started, what advice would you give them?

I struggle with imposter syndrome all the time, so much that I’m hesitant to call it a syndrome. But your unique voice is important and you are worth listening to. If you get discouraged, have a cry, then get back at it. Here’s to us! 🙂

Olivia Bing is a fourth-generation Chinese New Zealander writer and a mentee of prolific horror author Lee Murray. She is working on a horror middle-grade novel, and her goal is to make it as great as it can be, and to one day (hopefully) get it published. She loves developing her writing skills to the best of her ability.

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