“Anything is possible. I was born in a refugee camp to a family of a migrant from a war-torn country, so if I could go from having absolutely nothing to getting to where I am today, it could happen to anyone in the world.”
I meet Lang Leav after her recent book signing at MPH in Mid Valley. She had been traveling on an intensive book tour and was slightly jet-lagged. But Lang still took some time off to talk to Poskod.MY about her career as a poet and her plans for the future.
Born to Cambodian parents on the run from the Khmer Rouge, Lang Leav was raised in Sydney. Lang’s career as a writer started as a young girl, when she would write a lot of her poetry into journals. Then she handmade them into books and passed them around her schoolyard.
A few years later, Lang started to upload her work onto Tumblr, where a literary blog spotted her writing and reblogged her work. Soon, her poetry became widely read – her pithy meditations on love and heartbreak seemed to speak to the digital generation.
Readers persuaded her to publish a book which then led to Lang using her savings to self-publish her first book, Love & Misadventure. “I didn’t think I’d sell many books because I wasn’t sure what the audience was like, but I ended up selling close to 10,000 copies.”
Last year, Love & Misadventure was republished by Andrew McMeel publishing, and this year Lang released another book: Lullabies. Love & Misadventure became a No. 1 bestseller on Amazon, while Lullabies recently won a Good Reads Choice award for best poetry.
Lang now finds herself in the rare position of being a living poet who is widely read and loved, with a cult following across social media. One of Lang’s poems, Closure, was recently instagrammed by Khloe Kardashian. Lang herself has over 170,000 fans on Facebook.
Lang’s love for writing and stationary started from a young age, “I love words. Ever since I learnt to spell my name, I’ve never looked back and I love the English language. I think it’s beautiful and intricate; it’s complex but there’s a real simplicity to it as well.”
“My childhood was quite sheltered because my parents were strict,” says Lang. “I just remember living through books, basically. I really loved the Narnia and Harry Potter series, I thought it was fantastic.”
“Anything to do with the arts [as a career] was completely frowned upon [in my community] because there was a real strong emphasis on stability and following a path that would give you that, practicing law or medicine, things that were safe.”
Thankfully her eccentric parents, as Lang describes them, were supportive of her decision to join the creative world. “My parents still have my old notebooks that I filled with my silly writings.”
Lang is currently living in New Zealand with her partner, Michael Faudet, who is also a writer. “It’s been wonderful to have someone who understands what I do and also supports what I do 100%. We’ve a great working relationship and we’re also best friends.”
Lang Leav is working on two projects currently — a third installment for her poetry books and a romance novel which is scheduled to be published sometime next year.
Find out more about Lang Leav.
With thanks to Penguin Books Malaysia.