Iowa Writers’ Workshop graduate Vu Tran returned to Iowa City for the 2015 Iowa City Book Festival, and this On the Fly interview was recorded while he was in town. Tran had recently published his first novel, Dragonfish, which was listed among the top 100 notable books of the year by the New York Times Book Review.
Tran describes his early morning writing routine, starting at midnight with plenty of hot water available for tea. He also discusses his influences, including how his time at Iowa tempered the influence of William Faulkner in his work and his love of C.S. Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, which he describes as “a version of the immigrant novel.”
He recounts advice from the late Frank Conroy, admits his over use of subjective clauses, and reveals his desire to write a novel that is less plot-driven than his debut. He also considers who should be called a writer. “Anyone who takes very seriously the act of storytelling,” he says, “is a writer.”