Q&A with Lauren Ho, Author of Last Tang Standing

Last Tang Standing author Lauren Ho poses with the book cover
Photo from Lauren Ho's IG

The Internet can be a magical place sometimes. Case in point? Shortly after I posted this book review round-up featuring Last Tang Standing, the author herself, Lauren Ho, reached out to me via DM! I loved LTS so much that I bought my own copy after borrowing the ebook from the library. I also gifted it to one of my BFFs and recommended it for my workplace's book club, so you can imagine what a treat it was to connect with her. Despite the time difference between Vancouver and Singapore, working on her upcoming manuscripts, and taking care of a two-month-old baby, she kindly agreed to answer a few questions for our book club—answers which I'm happy to share with you all today. Enjoy!

Prior to writing and publishing Last Tang Standing, you were a lawyer. What prompted the career change and how has the experience of being a published author been so far?

I wanted to transition back to working in the non-profit space, which was partially the reason why I went into law in the first place, and after I left the legal sector, I never went back.

As for my experiences as a published author, so far it's been very surreal. I keep waiting for some ancestor to appear in my dream and tell me they are “surprised” by my bold move to become an author, then lament that they wish I had stuck with law before asking me for a list of critics, influencers and movie producers they have to “subtly influence” for various reasons.

I've loved connecting with fellow authors, readers, bookstagrammers on social media though, in this Year of the P.

I loved the humour in the book from beginning to end and related so much to some of Andrea's inner monologue rants, particularly about crowded public transit and how easy it is to be unhealthy working a sedentary office job (lol). Have you always been funny or drawn to humour in writing?

Yes, I've always loved comedic writing (I was an amateur stand-up comic for 2 years in Singapore, and I love the craft). One of my all-time favourite books is A Confederacy of Dunces, which is a tragicomedy that is just brimming with wonderful observations and wit.

There's a lot of overlap between your author's bio and Andrea's life: "reformed legal counsel," Malaysian Chinese roots, Singapore setting, and a hilarious reference to your mother(!). How much of your own life did you draw on to create Andrea's world?

An author never tells. But my party line is: All my characters are works of fiction, decidedly not based on anyone I know. Especially my mother.

Andrea is often compared to Bridget Jones and is even blurbed as such on the cover. At the same time, in recent years, there has been a lot of conversation around Asian representation. What does it mean to you, and what do you think it means to your readers, to have a Bridget Jones-esque heroine whose story is rooted in a specific Asian experience?

Very important. I am Asian and I grew up in Asia, having access to media that depicted people that looked like me. However, as a native English speaker, I did not have access growing up to English books that featured Asian leads, or even Asian casts. In a way, I wrote LTS for the younger me. So while LTS is marketed to an international audience, it remains a decidedly modern Asian tale, set in Asia and featuring an Asian cast, and I'm happy to contribute to the representation. I see more and more of such books featuring BIPOC leads in non-"Western" settings, and am glad "Western" publishing is taking more chances in publishing diverse voices.

If LTS were optioned for a Netflix rom-com, who would you dreamcast as Andrea, Suresh, Eric, Linda, and Mama Tang?

Hmm. I can't answer that. There's just so many good Asian actors I can see in these roles. But I do think that Dr. Rupy Aujla (@doctors_kitchen on IG) is how I pictured Suresh to be!

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