Andrew Fung O-long is the latest budding writer to be crowned winner of Young Post’s biannual short story competition. We chatted with the 17-year-old Pui Ching Middle School student about the inspiration behind his story The Setting Sun, and what he loves about writing.
How did you first become interested in writing?
I’ve been reading a lot since I was very little. As I read more, I felt an urge to create something of my own. The first story I wrote was Star Wars fanfic. I’m a huge Star Wars nerd. I think what inspired me was the fact that there is a whole universe of characters. You can learn the essence of each character by examining their actions and thoughts, then applying it to your own writing. Bit by bit, your own writing style starts to reveal itself.
What made you want to enter this competition?
I’ve always preferred theme-based story writing, and this short story competition provided a theme that I have never really delved into in my previous writings. Lost and Found, and the simple ambiguity behind it, was really just the right mix of motivation for me to attempt this competition.
What inspired the premise of your story?
To me, a short story has always been about capturing the crucial moments in a person’s life, such as a significant event or moment of realisation. And in many of my previous writings, I’ve tried to explore human relationships, because I believe that deep down, we all long for a genuine connection. In this story, the characters are father and son, but they’ve never really shared that father-son bond. The father has always judged his son based on his own expectations of him, but in the end, learns to accept things as they are. I’d say many things were lost in this story, but more valuable ones were found once again.
What is the most difficult thing about writing?
Narrowing down my ideas and streamlining a narrative has always been a challenge for me. A lot of ideas spring up when I begin writing. But ultimately, it is the execution of a good plot that really gets people to start reflecting. There are no short cuts really. I just spend a lot of time emphasising to myself the importance of plot and character development.
Do you think there needs to be more opportunities for young people in Hong Kong to get involved in writing?
Yes, because I’m sure a lot of young people have stories they’d like to tell.
I love reading other people’s work. And with so many issues around the world, it can even act as a way of spreading awareness.
Andrew’s top five must-read books:
All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr – this book depicts the beauty of kindness that transcends borders and races.
The Timekeeper, by Mitch Albom – the notion that our days are limited, but we should not count them down, is really intriguing.
Finders Keepers, by Stephen King – this book explores the way greed can shape a man’s greatest desires and also bring about his own demise; it gave me an insight into creating suspense in writing.
The Road, by Cormac McCarthy – the hope carried by the father and son as they trudge through a wasteland really taught me how a story can be both haunting and heartwarming.
Stories of Your Life Tower of Babylon, by Ted Chiang – I just admire the concept of non-linear time and heaven not being an end of two extremes.