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I’m the youngest one here with my cousins at Coney Island.

About Ki-Wing

Ki-Wing Merlin writes stories for young readers. WEAVING A NET IS BETTER THAN PRAYING FOR FISH, her debut middle grade novel, will be published by HarperCollins / Balzer + Bray.

Growing up, Ki-Wing always read and always wrote, but she never imagined being a writer. She imagined writers were people who wore fancy suits and pocket watches, or else they had slipshod hygiene and awful hacking coughs. Once her book is out, she hopes to get a pocket watch quick, before the hacking cough shows up.

 
 

F.A.Q.

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How do you say your name?

I pronounce my first name as “key” and “wing.” When I meet someone new, I sometimes make hand gestures. I’ll pretend to unlock a door to mean key and then I’ll flap an elbow to mean wing. Maybe we’ll meet one day and I’ll get to show you. You can show me any special things you do to communicate your name, too.

Where are you from?

I was born in Hong Kong, and my family moved to New York City when I was two years old. I grew up in Chinatown in Manhattan, New York, and also in Jersey City and Livingston in New Jersey. As an adult, I’ve lived all over the United States, including in Connecticut, California, Georgia, North Carolina, Michigan, and now, Florida.

One of the first places I go whenever I move somewhere new is the public library. I’ve always felt at home at the library.

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The first game I worked on.

Did you always know you would become a writer?

Not at all! There was a time when what I wanted to be changed every week. I wanted to be a librarian, an anthropologist, a teacher, a video game programmer . . .

I did become a video game programmer! I worked in computers and education for more than ten years.

 

 

Where do you get your ideas?

I write the stories I’ve always wanted to read myself.

Are the things that happen in your book things that happened to you? 

Yes and no. I’ve never had a fake address for school like Allen Mak does in WEAVING A NET IS BETTER THAN PRAYING FOR FISH, but I have had the experience of changing schools and trying to fit in. Like Allen, I am Chinese American, yet struggle to say so much in Chinese.

Do you ever get writer’s block?

Always! I think I have writer’s block more often than I don’t.

What do you do when you have writer’s block?

I try to be patient with myself and keep writing anyway.

Are you related to Merlin the wizard?

I wish! Merlin became my last name only after I married, so I don’t know all of the Merlin family history. I do like to daydream that one day, a wizard will appear poof! in front of me and let me in on all sorts of secrets.