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Vanessa Hua, Age 8

Vanessa Hua is a columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle and author of Deceit and Other Possibilities, which received the Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature. For nearly two decades, she has been writing about Asia and the diaspora in journalism and in fiction, examining the ways immigrants bring their traditions, their histories, and their ambitions to the America. She received a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Award, the San Francisco Foundation’s James D. Phelan Award, a Steinbeck Fellowship in Creative Writing, as well as honors from the Society of Professional Journalists and the Asian American Journalists Association. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, The Atlantic, FRONTLINE/World, Washington Post, ZYZZYVA, and elsewhere. She has filed stories from China, South Korea, Panama, Burma and Ecuador. Her novel, A River of Stars, is forthcoming (Ballantine, Spring 2018). She wrote this story, “Horrible Witch’s Revenge,” in the third grade.

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— Vanessa Hua, Age 8

Vanessa Hua

“In the second grade, the teacher read aloud our short stories and the class voted on the best one. Mine won, but I overheard my classmate tell her friend, ‘I only voted hers because it was the longest one.’ The first time I won a writing contest, and my first snarky review! I persisted and bought a notebook with my favorite cartoon character, Garfield, to fill with my stories. I was already fascinated by the material aspect of books: the cover illustration, the title page, the dedication, the header on each page. I was a latchkey kid who watched a lot of reruns after school, which may account for the darker elements of my story (kidnapping! police corruption!). My older sister read my story, made corrections, and offered encouraging editorial comments—and to this day, has remained just as supportive of my work.”