Melanie_Cheng is a mother, writer, doctor and champion multi-tasker. Her story, ‘White Sparrow’, will be published in the upcoming Margaret River Press anthology, Shibboleth and other stories. We spoke to her about what she reads, watches and listens to while writing up a storm…
What are you reading?
For Christmas my very thoughtful sister-in-law bought me That Glimpse of Truth: 100 of the finest short stories ever written. It is a tome—almost 1000 pages—and includes everyone from Joyce to Carver to Munro. I consider it a reference text and take a dip whenever I’m feeling stale and in need of some inspiration. Also on my bedside table is Nam Le’s The Boat. He has introduced me to the long short story, which, I’m learning, is a genre in its own right. When not reading or writing short stories I plan on devoting 2016 to Ferrante’s Neapolitan novels. Can’t wait!
What are you listening to?
My favourite album to write to is still a CD I picked up 15 years ago now, in the Brazilian beach town of Paraty. It’s by an artist called Alejandro Camos Enriquez —a singer and guitarist with an exquisite voice. A few of the tracks were recorded live at the local restaurant—a place where my friends and I spent many lazy afternoons and evenings—and so it has the power to transport me to a completely different time and place.
What are you watching?
I finally got around to watching a Hong Kong film my mum recommended a while ago now. It’s called A Simple Life and is a story about ageing and loyalty and class in modern day Hong Kong. I grew up in Hong Kong and so I enjoyed seeing it as the backdrop for this beautiful, understated movie. Needless to say, I bawled my eyes out at the end. As for TV, I’m still experiencing withdrawal symptoms since the end of SBS’s The Family Law. I loved the book and really enjoyed seeing a Chinese migrant family—and such a funny one—on prime time Australian TV.
Melanie_Cheng is a writer, mum and part-time GP from Melbourne. Her writing has appeared in Overland, the Griffith Review and Sleepers Almanac and is forthcoming in Meanjin and the 2016 Margaret River short story anthology. In 2015 she was highly commended in the Bridport Prize. Most recently she was shortlisted and commended in the Deborah Cass Prize for writers from migrant backgrounds. Nowadays she writes in short bursts while her children sleep. Her preoccupations—and therefore recurrent themes in her writing—include motherhood, social inequality and multiculturalism. She is currently working on a short story collection.