Victoria, born in southern California, identifies as Chinese-Cambodian. She enjoys reading books and fanfics, taking naps, and eating food.
Below are the responses from Victoria Hang’s interview with Legacies Staff:
How did you find out about the project?
A friend of mine actually saw it on twitter and shared it in a group chat we have with a couple of our mutual friends. We ended up discussing what we would write about if we decided to apply, and then two weeks later, I actually went through with it.
Is this your first publication? If not, what are some other projects/works you’ve done?
This is my first publication, but hopefully not my last.
How did you get into illustrating or writing?
It’s probably easiest to say that I got into writing on accident. It was a dream of mine when I was younger to become a writer, but that wasn’t the actual reason I got into it. It was actually when I met some people online through a real-life friend that I started getting into writing, since we would roleplay our OCs together online.
What inspired you to contribute to the project? (Why did you want to contribute to this project?)
I had been considering being more public with my writing when my friend first mentioned the project to me, since before now I’ve mainly kept it as a personal hobby and only ever really shared my work with friends. Applying to this project was a big thing for me, since it would be my first step towards becoming more comfortable with the idea of publicly sharing my work. The fact that it was AsAm-centric also gave me an incentive to share my personal experience, instead of just writing a fictional piece.
How would you describe, or summarize, your submission?
“My mother has certain expectations, but here’s one reason why I keep getting mixed signals about what exactly it is that she wants from me.”
What was the hardest things to write/draw about? (I.e. revisiting a trauma, self-realization, etc.) In other words, did you struggle to write/draw a certain aspect?
The depth of honesty behind the piece was likely the hardest thing for me; I’m a fairly private person, so there’s a lot that I don’t tend to share with others. Describing some of the frustrations I have with my mother was pretty awkward at first, since I wanted to be honest about it but also didn’t want it to come off as mere complaining. I wanted the weight of my honest feelings behind my words to be clear, which was more difficult to convey than I initially thought it would be.
Why did you choose to write/illustrate your specific submission? (What was the significance of your submission?)
I chose to write about filial piety and its ironic relationship to why I was given my chinese name as a way of communicating the tension in the relationship I have with my mother, because I thought it was important to talk about how unhealthy some of our culture’s expectations can be, especially when the culture you’re surrounded by can be at odds with the one that permeates your home. It isn’t a healthy way to live your life, and there are a lot of us out there that need the reminder. I’m not entirely sure if the final draft managed to convey it the way I wanted it to, but hopefully that message comes across clearly when people read it.
What, in your opinion, were setbacks you had to face, if any, and why? (I.e. time, memory, self-righteousness, etc.)
My own stubbornness is probably the biggest obstacle, as well as my own pride. There’s a lot of vulnerability that comes with sharing that kind of story so publicly that I’m not used to, and that was one of the biggest hurdles for me to jump while writing. Time was also a factor, since I usually come home too tired to want to do much of anything.
Was there anything you couldn’t address in your submission? If so, what were they?
There were plenty of interactions between my mother and myself that I thought about adding to the piece to really illustrate how often we fought, but I had trouble thinking of a way to describe them without providing more intimate details for the context, which made me uncomfortable. I also had hit my self-given page limit by that time, so there was also that.
What were the most important things you wanted to hit on in your submission? (What did you want to highlight?)
IT’S OKAY TO RECOGNIZE WHEN A RELATIONSHIP IS UNHEALTHY. It’s okay to understand why it might be that way. It’s also okay to understand that sometimes, it might not entirely be the other person’s fault, the same way it might not be entirely your fault. But that doesn’t mean whatever you’re feeling during it isn’t as important, because at the end if the day, you are the most important person in your life.
What do you hope readers/people will gain from reading/seeing your work? (What do you want people to take away from your work?)
It’s one thing to do something for your family, it’s another thing to do something for yourself. You don’t always have to choose between the two, but your wellbeing and happiness should be your priority.
What is your definition of being AsAm, if you have one?
I honestly hadn’t really heard of the term enough to know much about it until I heard about the anthology, if I’m honest, but to me being AsAm feels a bit like being the tethering point between the American culture I was raised in, and the Asian culture I was raised by. I guess you can say that ATLA is a good example of the feeling; being AsAm like being the halfway house for those around you, because in a way you’re expected to try and bridge these two different cultures together, while also being expected to assimilate easily into both as if you were a true native. It’s pretty exhausting when you think if how opposite things can be from one another.
What does writing/illustrating for this anthology mean to you?
I like to think that it’s a step towards understanding where exactly we place ourselves as AsAm, as well as an opportunity for me to personally connect a bit better to that particular identity, whether through my own work or others. It’s been a surprisingly emotional experience so far, in a good way.
What food/drink most reminds you of home/childhood? Why do you think food is so important to Asian American culture?
Jasmine tea and fried rice have always been really prominent reminders of my childhood for me because of how typical it was for them to be around the house. We’ve always had at least one tin of jasmine tea around, at least to the point where I wasn’t sure if we’ve ever actually run out of it before. Fried rice also made frequent appearances in the fridge, because it was something that was quick, easy, and filling. Plus, we could easily make a large amount to last us the week if we needed to.