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Lin King '12 Returns to TAS with Wisdom for Aspiring Writers.

Lin King '12 Returns to TAS with Wisdom for Aspiring Writers.

When writer and translator Lin King '12 was asked what advice she'd give to her younger self during her conversation with Creative Writing faculty, moderator, and fellow alum Brenda Lin '94, King replied, "I would have committed earlier to writing. I would have said, 'If you're interested in it, you should do it."     

King returned to TAS in January 2024 for a day of creative writing workshops and events. During FLEX, students, parents, guardians, alumni, and faculty attended an engaging and personal talk about King's career and perspective as a writer. 

During her PTA-sponsored forum as a visiting author, King recounted how her love of writing was fueled by her TAS teachers. "One in particular, Patricia Jones, encouraged me to write fiction and submit to contests. From Taipei, those competitions can seem far away, but she ushered me through the process and got me thinking that creative writing was something I could pursue in college, too."     

TAS Upper School English Teacher Brenda Lin interviews Lin King.

After graduating from TAS, Lin earned her BA in English from Princeton University with minors in East Asian Studies and Creative Writing. She achieved her MFA in Fiction and Literary Translation at Columbia University, where she also taught undergraduate writing. Her work has appeared in Boston Review, Joyland, Public Books, and Slice, among others, and has received the PEN/Robert J. Dau Short Story Prize for Emerging Writers.       

Even amidst these accolades, King acknowledged that the inherent fear of being a writer made it difficult. "I was afraid of committing to writing. And it is scary because if you go all in, with no plan B, there is no safety net," she related. Still, she shared, it was the support from the TAS faculty and her family that made the difference. "It's hard. But my parents were so supportive. They were open to me pursuing something other than tech, medicine, or law. It was just like - this is what I was good at. When I was at TAS, that's where I excelled, and those were the classrooms I felt good in. And I just kept going in that direction."   

TAS Alum, author & translator Lin King '12.

Ironically, leaving Taiwan and missing the language and culture of her birthplace led to her becoming a sought-after translator. "When I went to the US, I really started to value everything that I learned here from being Taiwanese," King recounted. "The more I was away from Taiwan, the more I wanted to keep that part of myself very close. After a while, I wanted to pass that on to other people, which is why I came into translating Taiwanese literature."  

King's translations from Mandarin Chinese and Japanese into English have appeared in Asymptote, The Margins, and Columbia Journal. Forthcoming translations include Yang Shuang-zi's novel Taiwan Travelogue (Graywolf, 2024), and her latest work, "The Boy from Clearwater," a historical graphic novel series on the former political prisoner Tsai Kun-lin (Levine Querido, 2023-2024), released in November 2023. 

Lin King takes a question from a TAS student.

Regarding the age-old issue of writer’s block, King described what works for her. “If you have writer’s block, start where it’s easiest. Start writing where it feels most possible. It is grueling, and you have to write a lot of awful first drafts. But just keep at it and make them better from there.” 

We’re proud of all that Lin King '12 has learned and shared with our community! Thank you to the PTA for sponsoring her visit and supporting the dreams of our aspiring Tiger writers!  

Watch Lin King’s interview here.