Leanne Yong, author of Two Can Play That Game, talks about her big break and how she got a publishing deal for her debut novel.
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Writer in residence: Leanne Yong
Leanne is an Asian-Australian author of Singaporean and Malaysian heritage who loves writing the diaspora experience into contemporary and fantasy fiction. Growing up as an avid reader with books such as the Baby-Sitters Club series, Enid Blyton, John Marsden, Emily Rodda, and age-inappropriate books—in hindsight—nabbed from her parents’ shelves, but it took her till her early 20s before she realised books could have protagonists that looked like her and had families like hers.
Despite writing stories since young, she struggled with the literature studied in high school and gave up on the idea of being a writer. Instead she chose to study Mechatronic Engineering in university and then became an IT business analyst. It wasn’t until after graduation, when YA books were coming into their own, that she decided to seriously pursue writing once more.
The book that would eventually become Two Can Play That Game is her seventh completed novel after many years in the query trenches. This book is a love letter to indie video games, escape rooms, supportive Asian families, and of course, meddling Asian aunties and uncles. It’s also about navigating expectations from two cultures while finding your own path, dealing with changing friendships, and all the doubts and anxieties that come with a creative career, and is the book she wished she had as a teenager finding her way.
She is currently an escape room creator at Next Level Escape in Sydney, and together with her co-owner has created internationally recognised games that weave unique puzzle mechanics with narrative.