INTERVIEW WITH NGOC (BI) NGUYEN

Author of Weird Culture Kids

INTERVIEW WITH NGOC (BI) NGUYEN

Author of Weird Culture Kids

Hello Ngoc and welcome to Learn with the Bundle Lab. We are a small community but most of us are content creators or artists which explains our excitement when we read your story and our immediate will to know more about it.

Hello Ngoc and welcome to Learn with the Bundle Lab. We are a small community but most of us are content creators or artists which explains our excitement when we read your story and our immediate will to know more about it.

First, let us know a little what Weird Culture Kids is about?

Weird Culture Kids is a memoir about my growing up in different cultures and not knowing where to fully belong. “Weird culture kids” is a term that I coined to designate people who do not fit into one specific cultural standard and who create their own “weird culture” in which they take bits and pieces from the traditional and nation-state ones that they’ve experienced and mix everything together to create their own culture. 

My book was published in December 2020.

First, let us know a little what Weird Culture Kids is about?

Weird Culture Kids is a memoir about my growing up in different cultures and not knowing where to fully belong. “Weird culture kids” is a term that I coined to designate people who do not fit into one specific cultural standard and who create their own “weird culture” in which they take bits and pieces from the traditional and nation-state ones that they’ve experienced and mix everything together to create their own culture. 

My book was published in December 2020.

What brought you to want to write it?

I wrote this book because I am one of those kids who grew up in an extremely multicultural environment and have always felt like I never fully belonged to any place. I was born in Moscow and grew up in Hanoi where I was constantly navigating between the French culture that I was receiving in school and the Vietnamese one that I got at home. I left Vietnam at the age of fifteen to attend an American boarding school in Windsor, Connecticut and ever since, one of the most recurring questions that people ask me when we first meet is “Where are you from?” 

This had always been one of the hardest questions for me to answer because I had never believed that we should—could?—be “from” one place. I was never sure what type of information the speaker was trying to get from my answer. Was he trying to figure out where was I living before arriving here? Or did she want to know where I was born? Or, going beyond the geographical dimension, which cultures shaped my personality and which sets of beliefs dictated my behavior? 

So, I guess, this book is simply my attempt to answer the “where are you from?” question – both for myself and for those around me.

What brought you to want to write it?

I wrote this book because I am one of those kids who grew up in an extremely multicultural environment and have always felt like I never fully belonged to any place. I was born in Moscow and grew up in Hanoi where I was constantly navigating between the French culture that I was receiving in school and the Vietnamese one that I got at home. I left Vietnam at the age of fifteen to attend an American boarding school in Windsor, Connecticut and ever since, one of the most recurring questions that people ask me when we first meet is “Where are you from?” 

This had always been one of the hardest questions for me to answer because I had never believed that we should—could?—be “from” one place. I was never sure what type of information the speaker was trying to get from my answer. Was he trying to figure out where was I living before arriving here? Or did she want to know where I was born? Or, going beyond the geographical dimension, which cultures shaped my personality and which sets of beliefs dictated my behavior? 

So, I guess, this book is simply my attempt to answer the “where are you from?” question – both for myself and for those around me.

What would you recommend for a beginner? Auto publishing or editorial?

It is very hard to answer this question because it depends on what you are looking for. If your goal is to be the next J. K. Rowling, then definitely make sure that you work with a (well-known) publishing house simply because you will need their expertise in positioning your book to the right audience, advertise it well to the market and then distribute it as widely as possible.

With all of that being said, not everyone has the privilege of working with a publishing house. And if that’s the case, do not get discouraged! Self-publish it! It is cheaper, faster (on average because you get to skip all of the different processes of an organization) and you get to be in control every single step of the way (and by every single step, I really mean it!)!

There’s no better way, really. Just the most appropriate way for you.

How long did it take you to write your book?

It took me roughly a year and a half to write Weird Culture Kids. I think the writing process would have taken me a lot longer if I wasn’t stuck alone at home during lockdown because of the pandemic.

What would you recommend for a beginner? Auto publishing or editorial?

It is very hard to answer this question because it depends on what you are looking for. If your goal is to be the next J. K. Rowling, then definitely make sure that you work with a (well-known) publishing house simply because you will need their expertise in positioning your book to the right audience, advertise it well to the market and then distribute it as widely as possible.

With all of that being said, not everyone has the privilege of working with a publishing house. And if that’s the case, do not get discouraged! Self-publish it! It is cheaper, faster (on average because you get to skip all of the different processes of an organization) and you get to be in control every single step of the way (and by every single step, I really mean it!)!

There’s no better way, really. Just the most appropriate way for you.

How long did it take you to write your book?

It took me roughly a year and a half to write Weird Culture Kids. I think the writing process would have taken me a lot longer if I wasn’t stuck alone at home during lockdown because of the pandemic.

Would you say writing a book is a profitable side hustle?

Most authors, I believe, don’t do it for the money. We do it because we have to. Because we believe that our stories deserve to be written down, to be read by others. With that being said, I’m also quite a pragmatic person and I do believe that the book business is a profitable one simply because it rewards you in many different ways. Sure, I get excited whenever I make a sale because that’s the most prominent KPI that one can measure.

But then I also feel extremely rewarded whenever I receive a touching email from someone who’s read my book. I feel recognized whenever I get invited onto podcasts / interviews to share about my experiences. I feel remunerated whenever I meet new, like-minded people thanks to my book.

Is it important for you that your book reaches many? If so, why?

It is not so important for me that my book reaches many – it is important for me that my book reaches the right people simply because it is a book I wish I had read when I was younger.

Any ritual when it comes to writing?

I think every writer has her own habits and rituals when it comes to writing. Mine is plain and simple: write every day, even when you’re tired and uninspired. Write every day, even when your words don’t make sense. Just sit down and write or scribble words onto your blank word document and eventually – statistically, almost – something of substance will come out of it.

Would you say writing a book is a profitable side hustle?

It is not so important for me that my book reaches many – it is important for me that my book reaches the right people simply because it is a book I wish I had read when I was younger.

Is it important for you that your book reaches many? If so, why?

Most authors, I believe, don’t do it for the money. We do it because we have to. Because we believe that our stories deserve to be written down, to be read by others. With that being said, I’m also quite a pragmatic person and I do believe that the book business is a profitable one simply because it rewards you in many different ways. Sure, I get excited whenever I make a sale because that’s the most prominent KPI that one can measure.

But then I also feel extremely rewarded whenever I receive a touching email from someone who’s read my book. I feel recognized whenever I get invited onto podcasts / interviews to share about my experiences. I feel remunerated whenever I meet new, like-minded people thanks to my book.

Any ritual when it comes to writing?

It is not so important for me that my book reaches many – it is important for me that my book reaches the right people simply because it is a book I wish I had read when I was younger.

Are you planning to write another?

I’m always planning to write another one. And another one. And another one. Am I writing anything at the moment?

Absolutely not.

Any final words for someone who wishes to start their own book?

Just do it.

You will find Ngoc in @nioccy

and you can buy your copy of Weird Culture Kids here.

Are you planning to write another?

I’m always planning to write another one. And another one. And another one. Am I writing anything at the moment?

Absolutely not.

Any final words for someone who wishes to start their own book?

Just do it.

You will find Ngoc in @nioccy

and you can buy your copy of Weird Culture Kids here.

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