Not a Self-Help Book: The Misadventures of Marty Wu, was published in 2016. Yi Shun joined the Bay Path MFA program in the fall of 2019, and teaches the course “Writing Contemporary Women's Stories,” in which she most enjoys “watching students learn about the many different forms that are available for them to pursue, and then watching them put that into place.”
When it comes to her own writing, Yi Shun admits she is curious about almost anything — except, distinctly, earthworms. “I like people and I find them endlessly interesting. That includes myself,” she says. “I'm always wondering why I, or someone else, reacts certain ways. And then I get to thinking about people's origin stories — what beliefs they may have, how they may have gotten this way or that way. I find motivations to be ceaselessly interesting. I also like birds, food, plants, rocks, animals, and insects.”
What she loves to read is equally diverse. Lately, Yi Shun has been excited about Ramona Ausubel’s magical realism; Mari Naomi’s graphic novel Turning Japanese (and graphic novels in general: “I find the way they're constructed to be a thing to study and marvel over.”), the psychological honesty of the heroes in Dick Francis’s books, and Abdi Nor Iftin’s memoir Call Me American, which she is delving into for the ShelterBox Book Club.
ShelterBox is an international disaster-relief organization, for which Yi Shun started fundraising in 2008 and volunteering as a response team member the year following. “Each time I go out on deployment, I learn something new from the families we're helping,” she says. “I think working for the agency appeals to the forever-student in me, but I also think this is the thing I'd been looking for and training for all my life—I just didn't know it.” She blogs about and writes “tiny books” about her work with ShelterBox, including Your Country is Beautiful: Notes from an Aid Worker.
Yi Shun once edited fiction for the Los Angeles Review and was the founding nonfiction editor of the Tahoma Literary Review, introducing CNF into the magazine’s original mix of fiction and poetry. After about three years there, she and some MFA friends bought the magazine from its originators, also from her MFA program. Yi Shun will be leaving at the end of June, and is proud of what she accomplished during her tenure.Her experience at TLR made her a better writer, and much quicker to diagnose what might not be working with any given piece. “And I have a much sharper sense of where I see literary magazines falling in the schematic of the larger literary world,” she says.
Yi Shun’s recommendation to aspiring authors: “Be curious! And reach out to other writers for support and guidance. My good friend reminded me when I was going through the marketing for my debut novel that writing is a solitary endeavor, but publishing is a team sport. This is very good advice.”
“At TLR, we published a number of first-time writers and a number of undergraduates,” she says. “It's my hope that seeding the idea that their work is worth something they can take to the bank will set the tone for their careers and expectations of the way they value their work.”
Next for Yi Shun will be the publication of her memoir focusing on her relationship to outdoors sports and representation in the outdoors; it will be published by Homebound Publications this August. Learn more about Yi Shun at thegooddirt.org.