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Zoë S. Roy


First Language(s): Chinese
Second Language(s): English


Born in China and an avid reader even during the Cultural Revolution, Zoë S. Roy writes literary fiction with a focus on women’s cross-cultural experiences. Her books include “Butterfly Tears,” “The Long March Home,” “Calls across the Pacific,” and “Spinster Kang,” published by Inanna Publications. She is a former teacher and a member of The Writers' Union of Canada.


What was your favorite book as a child?

As a child, my favorite books were “The Adventures of Sanmao the Waif” /《三毛流浪記》by Leping Zhang and “The Adventures of Pinocchio” by Carlo Collodi. The former tells the story of a Chinese orphan who wanders on the street to survive. The latter is the Italian story of a carved wood figure that comes to life, travelling to the Land of Toys.

Do you remember the original reason or motivation why you started writing creatively?

Reading always makes me put myself in the character’s shoes: I wonder if I were her/him, what I’d do. When I learn about a story or an event that happens in real life, I always want to know what makes it happen and why. I also imagine other outcomes with different scenarios. I think curiosity about life and people helps me make up stories. I should say that reading is the cradle of my imagination, and that wanting to share what I conceive in life with others has impelled my creativity in the first place.

What was the most adventurous or thrilling thing you ever did/experienced?

On a hot July day in 2006, my husband and I arrived at Amiens from Paris in order to locate a graveyard of his eldest uncle who died during the Somme Offensive. A local journalist we’d met on the train led us to the information center. We rented two bicycles with a local map to start out. The sun was scorching hot, but the breeze cooled me off. Along the up-and-down country road, red poppies dotted the grass. When the road became steep I had to get off the bicycle and to push it uphill. When I whooshed down the slope I felt as if I were winning a championship in a bicycle race. After a ninety-minute ride, we reached Serre Road Cemetery No. 2, the largest British cemetery on the Somme front with 7,126 Commonwealth burials. A rectangular monument lay in the center of the graveyard inscribed with these words: THEIR NAME LIVETH FOR EVERMORE. Among the same sized headstones, we located V.D. 5. The tablet had a maple leaf with the following inscription: 471099 Private J. D. Roy 24th BN. Canadian Inf. First October, 1916 The trip to the battlefield of the Great War is my most adventurous and memorable experience.

Do you listen to music while reading or writing?

I don’t listen to music while reading or writing. Listening to music would make me conjure up something else, distracting me from what I read or write about.


Flash Nonfiction
The Holy Mango
Issue Spring '21

Supported by:

Land Steiermark: Kultur, Europa, Außenbeziehungen
U.S. Embassy Vienna
Stadt Graz