Be My Guest | Be a maverick: Young novelist exposes HK's social problems through magical realistic writing
Glamorous as it might appear to be, Hong Kong is one of those cities where you have to actually live to see what's behind the glitz and glamor: high cost and fast pace of life, small living space, and high level of anxiety among people. All these, however, become the perfect material for Cassie's vivid and explicit writing.
In this episode of Be My Guest, we are glad to have Cassie Cheng, a young adult writer with us to share her journey of self-discovery. Born in 1993 in Wuhan, she later moved to Beijing as a child and grew up there. In 2011, at the age of 18, she came to Hong Kong for higher education.
Being a much of a maverick, Cheng has always been a little different from others. Instead of a follower, she is someone who braves the gaze of convention and writes her own destination.
Ching is a whimsical writer, a cheerful lecturer and a guest columnist for a HK literary magazine. With her different roles in society, she has chosen a life that allows her to embrace and explore her different identities. As a writer, she has published works that reflect the current social issues in HK with her wildly and uniquely imaginative writing, which have also won her the Hong Kong Youth Literature Award and the Taiwan Times Literature Award, among others.
In 2020, Cassie's first collection of short stories, Dangerous Animals (literal translation), was published. The eleven stories contained in the collection have a strong color of magical reality, and are based on the social pain points of HK, including the housing problem, new immigrant status, and the wealth gap.
Cassie is passionate about creativity. She once dreamed of becoming a full-time writer, but the high cost of living in Hong Kong could not seem to allow her so. Nonetheless, she never stops creating, and she optimistically treats her experiences in different industries as a "game of observation", where she finds delight in discovering the conflicts in interpersonal relationships in her life and work, from which she draws a constant stream of creative nourishment.
Also an advocate for feminism and a believer in female power, Cheng told us that along the way, she has been inspired by women who have relentlessly pursued their dreams and aspirations. Whether it's her peers or seniors whom she looks up to, she has seen herself in their stories, found the connection, and gained strength. This, also being a form of empowerment, gave her the courage to throw off the shackles of societal expectations and become the unique human being she is today.
So how did Cassie embark on the journey of creative writing? Where does her inspiration come from? How did some of her early experiences shape her as an unconventional young lady? Watch the video now to find out.