Three Speed Interviews with Tina Sang

Beijinger Tina Sang, published in both Issues 1 and 2, participated in the "Speed Interview" activity at our Issue 2 release party. Interviewees sat with fellow students, teachers, and other attendees for 3 quick minutes of conversation about their work or anything else.

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Uchechi: Tell me about how you started writing.

Tina: I think it’s because I read a lot of books as a child, and became so immersed in these stories. Then came the day when I thought, “hey, why can’t I write my own?”

U: So, what do you feel was on your mind when you wrote this story?

T: Seeing things from a different perspective. Because you don’t normally see stealing as a positive thing, but because my character is a pickpocket, he thinks what he’s doing is right, and he’s the happiest person in the story.

U: Right! I love that line in the story where he’s trying to sell newspapers, then he puts it back “where it belongs”, then pulls out the tickets he stole.

T: (laughs) That was really fun for me to write, because I was imagining those epic scenes in the movies…

U: It’s always quite sinister!

T: Yeah, exactly, but this character, he doesn’t realize what he’s doing is causing anyone harm. He’s very young, innocent, and playful, so he doesn’t realize the negative impact of what he’s doing. He just pillages things for his own amusement.

An interviewer (left) chats with speed interview participant, Jennifer Lara (right).

An interviewer (left) chats with speed interview participant, Jennifer Lara (right).

Elementary School Teacher

Interviewer: Do you think stealing plays a big role in this child’s life?

Tina: Definitely, I would even say it’s a really important character trait of the child, because it’s what sets him apart from everyone else in the story.

I: I have a similar phenomenon: I once stole a pair of earrings from a store, and I told my mom very proudly, so I was confused when she yelled at me. Today, from my point of view, stealing isn’t a bad thing, but for parents, it’s a bigger deal.

T: Yeah, I feel like for parents it’s their responsibility to educate us to not do bad things. There’s a social taboo associated with stealing, but this child doesn’t realize, because he doesn’t realize the value of the things he’s stealing; it’s just for his amusement and survival. Even when the man in the pawnshop warns him against it, he doesn’t listen and even steals from him. Really makes you see things in a different light.

Jane, 11th Grader at Western Academy of Beijing

Jane: So, are you interested in pickpocketing?

Tina: (laughs) I wouldn’t say I’m a professional stealer, but I don’t view it as such a bad thing, compared to the rest of society. I once stole a clothes hanger from American Eagle just because it was funny.

J: What do you think about people like Robin Hood?

T: Even though he steals, he’s painted as the hero, because the author chooses to justify the reasons for his crimes as something for the greater good. I bet in the rich people’s eyes, he’s painted as a thief and a barbarian. Robin Hood has a greater purpose for his stealing, though. My character, on the other hand, just steals for his own amusement because he never grew up.

J: So your boy, he’s kind of like a modern day Peter Pan?

T: Yeah, I guess so, that’s a really interesting take!

J: Especially for your personal phase of life, Never-Never Land may seem pretty nice.

T: True! The whole teenage, coming-of-age part of your life is where you suddenly never want to grow up, so the piece is kind of nostalgic in a way, because as I near adulthood, I want to hold onto that child piece of me.

Mia, 9th Grader at Hope International School

Mia: Do you have any feedback for people interested in writing?

Tina: I would suggest, whenever you feel strongly about anything, whether it’s a social issue, or a memory, or a feeling, or an idea, just write it down! Inspiration stems from our own uniqueness.

M: I want to start writing in Chinese, but I’m not that good at the language. Any tips?

T: That’s so great! I haven’t done a lot of creative pieces in Chinese before either, but it’s definitely a beautiful language that lends itself especially to descriptive writing. Chinese has many key phrases that are used to describe certain landscapes, so try to learn a few of these by reading Chinese prose. If it’s difficult at first, you can also try writing the story first in English, then translating it to Chinese.