My Writing

I've had the opportunity to be mentored by many incredible people, including the Pulitzer Prize-winning Prof. Adam Johnson, Jonah Willihnganz, Laura Davis, Rose Whitmore, Jenn Trahan, Molly Antopol, Richie Hofmann, Melissa Dyrdahl, and more. The works you see below are tentative drafts that I'm continuing to work on!


Representative Works

These are my most recent works, and they explore my three areas of interest: human-animal relationships, trauma in paradise, and immigrant experiences. Many of these works are ongoing and will be submitted to publication eventually.


Fireworks

All the Stars in the Air (2023)

A memoir about my mom shaping me into a competitive swimmer by bribing me with illegal fireworks. Ultimately, it is an exploration of the immigrant identity. My parents came from China and I was raised in a small village where most of my friends were white. In slipping into a new culture, where do you integrate, and where do you rebel? This current version is the 3rd place winner in the Stanford undergraduate creative writing competition. The writing is still a working draft and will eventually be submitted for official publication.

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Dolphin Trainer

Matchmakers of Dolphin Grotto (2022)

Taika is the head trainer at Dolphin Grotto, and as he deals with a few anti-captivity activists, he wallows in his own kind of captivity. He's suck playing the role of a Eagle lover in the nighttime show while his real life fades into the glowing lights of the Central Florida night. Inspired by a real story. This is my first fiction piece, and it has numerous (unrecoverable) technical issues. I will overhaul it before sending it to publication, but in the meantime, I've put my best draft below.

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Poetry Chapbook

See it Here, Save it Where? (2021)

A collection of 5 quasi-fictional poems. It begins with a critical essay on my writing style, written by a poet classmate. In my work, I write about innocence, a tumultuous family, and dying animals. Some of these pieces have been published in the Stanford Quarterly magazine.

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Orca trainer

Orca Boy (Releasing early 2024)

What would you do if your best friend was killed by a whale? In this audio production with the Stanford Storytelling Project, I talk about my friendship with a killer whale trainer who is dealing with a traumatic loss. Through our weirdly-parallel stories of self-discovery, we look at what it means to pine for an unreachable past. This work will be published on all podcast platforms and broadcast on public radio station KZSU.

EightWays

A Squeeze of the Hand (2023)

Stanford Live called me to review Wu Tsang's reimagination of Moby Dick through a feature-length film and live musical performance. The show, brilliantly created and executed, reminded me about my creative purpose. I'm interested in stories that highlight animals as sentient individuals while still focusing on our human experience of them.

Published Review
EightWays

Eight Ways of Looking at a Killer Whale (Work in progress, 2023)

In this collection of vignettes, we follow the fictional story of a killer whale trainer, her team, and their whales. From the crowded stands of a whale stadium you can only take a small sip of the human and animal condition. In this story, I'm trying to take a large, greedy, salty gulp. I've included the workshop draft that inspired this project. Beware that this workshop story (originally meant to be private) is quite traumatic, and I don't think I'll be going for this angle in my ongoing work.

Workshop Draft

Advised Works

I've had the privilege and honor of advising numerous high-impact pieces about the aquarium & marine park industry. I work with Valerie Greene and Joe Kleinman as part of the ThemedReality investigative journalism group.


SeaWorld has a duty to its captive killer whales (Orlando Sentinel, March 2023)

Valerie Greene is a former, high-ranking killer whale trainer at SeaWorld Orlando. She also served on the leadership board of the International Marine Animal Trainer's Association (IMATA). She likes her past life, but there are certain experiences and norms that she's trying to change. She hopes to improve the welfare of the animals and the training staff at these facilities. In the wake of a high-profile killer whale death, I helped Valerie find her voice.

Orlando Sentinel Link

Miami's modern-day "Free Willy" must be saved (Orlando Sentinel, July 2023)

As the sea pen plans for killer whale Tokitae circled national headlines, new information revealed the dire conditions of her tank and the infeasibility of the sea pen plans. Here, I help make a simple request: move Tokitae to SeaWorld.

Orlando Sentinel Link

"Free Willy" whale had a tragic ending in real life. Don't let that happen to Lolita (Miami Herald, March 2023)

When plans were announced to bring orca Lolita / Tokitae into a sea pen, I helped write a dissenting opinion that highlighted the logistical and welfare challenges of a sea pen for an old animal with health conditions. This article spawned the Truth4Toki movement, one of the first times that whale trainers came together in a unified voice for animal welfare. My involvement in Truth4Toki and Tokitae's story is nuanced, but this was the article that started it all.

Miami Herald Link

The Golden Touch: A Whale Sanctuary Project mystery (Themed Reality, Sept 2023)

Themed Reality investigations have revealed many problems about the Whale Sanctuary Project and their leaders, Lori Marino & Charles vinick. While sanctuaries can play an important role in animal welfare and rescue operations, they are often weaponized against the zoological industry, causing further partisan divides. In this piece, I help Valerie create an olive branch piece that was received positively by people all over the spectrum of captivity beliefs.

Themed Reality Link

Older Works

I'm including some writing that I worked on before I studied the craft of story. As such, these works are far less refined, but perhaps they are a little more raw and true to life. They are the writer's equivalent of beginner's luck.


Portrait of a Bosnian Neighbor (2021)

Josenko is a neighbor who shows me the ways of the rake, the mower, and the suburban life.

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But it Does to Me (2021)

There's a road behind my house that leads through old farmlands. Two days before I leave for college, I decide to take a look. This is unpolished writing.

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Wave Rider (2022)

In San Diego I once saw the palms sway beneath the waves. While attending an animal training conference, I took an afternoon and went looking for a moment of clarity.

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Joe's Shanghai (2022)

Joe's is a place of sticky tables and ginger strips soaked in black vinegar. Before it burned down in 2020, I learned to slurp their soup dumplings hot.

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Roads and Rivers and Skies (2021)

I hate this piece, but this was the first real emotional experience I had with a piece of writing. It is also one of the first piece of creative writing I've done. Slippery with fish guts and moonlight, this is a deep dive into something. Perhaps it's myself.

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Chowder (2021)

After 15 months of staying in a 1.5 mile radius of my house, I try to remember life as it used to be.

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