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Meet Lena Nguyen

Today we’d like to introduce you to Lena Nguyen.

Lena, we appreciate you taking the time to share your story with us today. Where does your story begin?
Hi VoyagePhoenix, thanks for taking the time to interview me! And thanks for the question. I’d say I’ve dedicated my entire life to writing fiction. I started writing when I was around ten years old, on the edges of newspapers on my bedside table because ideas would come to me while I was trying to sleep. Then, when I was twelve, I started going to writing workshops and summer classes at different universities, thanks to the support and encouragement of my parents. I studied at UCLA, Stanford University, Brown University, and Harvard University, and by the time I was old enough to go to college, I knew what I wanted to do. I got my B.A. in Creative Writing from Arizona State University, then moved to Ithaca, New York, where I earned my Masters of Fine Arts in Fiction at Cornell University. There, I spent several years teaching English composition, creative writing, cultural studies, and comparative literature. I had the choice to stay, teach at Cornell, and have a stable career in academia, but ultimately I was too compelled to become a full-time fiction writer.

Eventually, I returned back to my hometown of Phoenix and spent the next few years working on my debut novel, which I had started as a grad thesis at Cornell. I supported myself by working as an editor as well as a video game writer and narrative designer–all less demanding and more creative jobs than teaching, but it was still a lengthy journey to completing my book. And it was also a huge leap of faith to take that step, and I couldn’t have done it without the support of my partner Jeremy, my friends, and my family. I’m happy to say that my decision and efforts paid off, because now that same novel is being published by Penguin Random House and DAW Books this summer! I’ve accomplished my dreams of becoming a full-time writer and an author, and I couldn’t be more grateful for the opportunity and success.

As you know, we’re big fans of you and your work. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about what you do?
I’m an author and fiction writer who specializes in fantasy and science fiction. I used to call it “literary fantasy” and “speculative fiction” because straight “sci-fi and fantasy” tends to get a lesser rep among other genres: some people can consider it pulpy, possibly even less mature than stories that tackle “real life.” But I try to make my work thought-provoking as well as imaginative and colorful; my space-voyaging stories tackle issues of human empathy and free will alongside AI and quantum mechanics; my fantasy worlds tend to focus on deep, emotional, individual arcs and journeys rather than sweeping sagas with languages you’ll never learn and names you may not remember. I pride myself on crafting unique, nuanced, and unforgettable characters: characters you miss when the book is over, and who feel like friends. I’m also told that my prose and language are very strong; I think my voice shines through my writing, and I strive to have a keen ear for what sounds good, the little soundbites and phrases you can just sink your teeth into. I hope that’s what helps me stand out in a field of very talented peers!

My debut novel, WE HAVE ALWAYS BEEN HERE, follows the journey of Dr. Grace Park, a misanthropic psychologist who is placed on the survey ship, the Deucalion. The Deucalion is headed to an icy planet on the far reaches of the next galaxy in order to evaluate the planet, Eos, for colonization purposes. On the way there, Park befriends the androids of the ship, who are shunned and treated with hostility by the other human crewmembers—for reasons that Park doesn’t fully understand. Because of her association with the androids, Park is ostracized and isolated, too.

Shortly after landing, the crew finds themselves trapped on the ship by a radiation storm, with no means of communication or escape until it passes—and that’s when things begin to fall apart. Park’s patients are falling prey to waking nightmares of helpless, tongueless insanity. The androids are behaving strangely. There are no windows aboard the ship. And no one will tell Park the truth about what they’re really doing there, or why she hears people discussing the location of a body. Paranoia is closing in, and soon Park is forced to confront the fact that nothing—neither her crew, nor their mission, nor the mysterious Eos itself—is as it seems.

Alright, so before we go can you talk to us a bit about how people can work with you, collaborate with you or support you?
I would be beyond grateful to anyone who considers supporting me by buying a copy of my science fiction thriller, WE HAVE ALWAYS BEEN HERE! The novel debuts on July 6th, 2021, and will be found anywhere books are sold. You can also check out my website, lena-nguyen.com!

 

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