AWM took five with Ben Law to discuss his–very reasonably priced–new book Sh*t Asian Mother’s Say, and sweaty writing weekends in Brisbane with his sister Michelle Law.
Benjamin Law is a Sydney-based journalist, columnist and screenwriter, and has completed a PhD in television writing and cultural studies. He is the author of two books—The Family Law (2010) and Gaysia: Adventures in the Queer East (2012)—and the co-author of the comedy book Sh*t Asian Mothers Say (2014) with his sister Michelle and illustrator Oslo Davis. The Family Law has been translated into French and is currently being developed for television. Gaysia was published in India in 2013 and North America in 2014. Both of his books have been nominated for Australian Book Industry Awards, and he is now working on his next. Benjamin is a frequent contributor to Good Weekend (The Sydney Morning Herald/The Age), Frankie and The Monthly.
How would you describe your book Sh*t Asian Mothers Say to someone at a party?
It’s a $14.99 quasi-racist joke book you can read on the toilet, recommended for anyone who grew up with—or happens to be—an Asian mother.
How did the process of co-writing Sh*t Asian Mothers Say with your sister Michelle differ from your usual approach?
Michelle and I have worked together before, developing stuff for television, plus we’re both freelancers so we get each other’s work rhythms. Plus, we’ve got the same sense of humour (i.e. awful), so we usually know when we’re hitting the mark or not. We did go crazy writing this book, but that was more to do with the weather, than each other. A good third of this book was written over a deliriously hot summer weekend in Brisbane, Michelle’s apartment really traps the heat, so we were both losing our minds and just grunting and sweating through our underwear. Writing: it’s glamorous.
What piece of advice do you wish you’d been given when you were starting out as a writer?
Get away from the desk and exercise. It clears your head and allows you to come back and see your writing more clearly.
What is the next book on your must read list?
Gary Shteyngart’s memoir, Little Failure.
You currently have a strong following on Twitter; what is it about Twitter that appeals to you as a writer?
To be honest, it’s mainly what I get as a reader: the smartest people on the internet, linking me to stories, features and essays I would’ve otherwise have never read.
Georgia Lejeune is currently studying a Masters of Arts in Writing, Editing and Publishing at the University of Queensland, she previously obtained a Bachelor of Creative Industries majoring in Drama from the Queensland University of Technology. Georgia is a freelance writer/blogger, actor, and circus teacher who likes Jane Austen novels and dislikes ironing, sultanas, and writing in the third person.