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64 FINAL EXAM Professionally Speaking September 2019 PHOTO: SHIMON Stranger than Fiction Lindsay Wong sheds more light on the school days that figure prominently in her bestselling memoir, The Woo-Woo: How I Survived Ice Hockey, Drug Raids, Demons, And My Crazy Chinese Family. BY LAURA BICKLE • Born in Vancouver on March 5, 1987 • Has a younger sister and brother, although she says, "I always tell people that I'm an only child" • Attended nine schools in Coquitlam, B.C., during her child- hood, graduating from Pinetree Secondary School in 2005 • Received her BFA in Creative Writing from University of British Columbia in 2009, and an MFP in Literary Nonfic- tion from Columbia University in 2012 • The Woo-Woo: How I Survived Ice Hockey, Drug Raids, Demons, And My Crazy Chinese Family — about her family's struggles with mental health — was a finalist in CBC's Canada Reads 2019 • Her debut young-adult novel, The Summer I Learned Chinese, will be released in 2020 What was your favourite subject in school and why? Creative writing. It was the only subject that made sense to me. Even then, I was struggling to make sense of what I was feeling and the stories around me. Also, unlike other classes, we were allowed to write about whatever we wanted. What was your most challenging subject and why? Math (geometry) and physics were the hardest, followed by geography. I can't read a map to this day. I rely on Google Maps as soon as I leave the house. What were your favourite literary pieces studied at school? I loved reading Sylvia Plath's The Bell Jar, Wayson Choy's The Jade Peony and Ann-Marie MacDonald's Fall On Your Knees. They all had a profound influence on what type of writer I wanted to be. As a student, what career path did you dream of following? I had no idea, but a mandatory high school career-planning test gave me these options: comedian, mortician, tattoo artist and writer. Who are your favourite writers? So many! A few include: David Sedaris, Mary Karr, Augusten Burroughs, Dave Eggers, Yiyun Li, Amy Tan. What natural gift did you wish to possess during your school days? A better sense of humour. I used to take everything so personally back then. What do you wish you had been taught in school but weren't? I wish I had been taught that it was OK not to be strong in academic subjects, like math and sciences, and that everyone has unique strengths. My most embarrassing moment at school was … This girl who claimed to be my friend and then humiliated me in front of the entire class in sixth grade. She tried to add me on Facebook recently and I was like, NO. Memoirists remember forever. We're professional grudge holders. Most important life lesson learned at school? Be nice to everyone. Life is weird and karma means that you'll most likely be working and meeting up with the same people you didn't like in high school. If you could take back something that happened at school, what would it be? Honestly, I was miserable at school and I lashed out. Looking back now, I wish I had been kinder and more patient with my peers. What experiences or lessons at school prepared you for your life now? My middle school English teacher once told our class that "Lindsay's writing is going to be published in a magazine one day." This was after we handed in essays on Remembrance Day, and she read mine out loud. Her praise — and the fact that she believed I had talent — really stayed with me. PS

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