First Language(s): Vietnamese
Second Language(s): English
Trang NP Tran was born in Vietnam and lives in Australia. Music has been her first creative outlet before she added translating and writing to her list of creativity. Trang is interested in exploring the other side of the coin, the rarely-told and less-valued aspects of seemingly common matters. Trang’s writing has appeared in various journals and one anthology.
What was your favorite book as a child?
As a child, I didn’t read many children’s books because my family moved often to avoid the war. I read children’s pages from my dad’s daily newspaper. By the time I was ten, my country, as I knew it, was lost with the fall of Saigon. Possession of literature and books became a crime. What was banned usually found a way to survive on the black market because the new occupiers discreetly wanted it. Thanks to black market renting, I read whatever books I could get, there was no room to think about appropriateness. I remember storylines but no titles. I remember a fantasy about a poor, young girl encountering a magical brook whose water cured diseases lingered in my mind. The story’s grassy bank, green forest and sweet outcome were like a salve for me during that turbulent time.
Do you remember the original reason or motivation why you started writing creatively?
I love reading and have always wanted to create stories that reflect the world I’ve lived in. Initially I lacked the skills, both craft-wise and language-wise, and didn’t know that writing could be learned. I filed away that wish and did translation instead, thinking this would get me as close to writing as possible. But it wasn’t enough. An emotional crisis ten years ago compelled me to do something with my wish. I then enrolled in one single subject, part of a writing and editing course, as a hobby. One subject led to another and, seven years later, I completed the course. I finally realised that yes, I could and should go on writing, because there still are stories waiting to be told.
What was the most adventurous or thrilling thing you ever did/experienced?
When I first learned to ski a few years ago. I remember the horror of sliding uncontrollably toward the end of the slope on my first run downhill. Despite trying all manners of braking, I couldn’t slow down. My feet made no difference to the smooth, white snow underneath. When a deadly collision with the chairlift barriers seemed imminent, I managed to make myself fall, nearly slamming into a by-stander. The poor man was clearly annoyed. But after five minutes of watching me struggling hopelessly to raise myself up, with a sigh, he offered me a hand to stand up. I haven’t skied since.
Do you listen to music while reading or writing?
I am a classically trained musician. My ears have been conditioned to stay tuned to music, especially instrumental music. They automatically detect the faintest trace of music in the surrounding and cause my mind to wander off. Good music is irresistible and impossible to ignore; it gives me such an intense and, at the same time, soothing experience. Because music speaks to my psyche on many levels, it would pose as my biggest distraction when I read or write. As a result, I read and write better in silence.
On the Stroke of Twelve
Issue Spring '20