Written by Guest Contributor Emma Pei Yin
In the heart of Australia’s literary landscape, there’s a quiet force working diligently behind the scenes to bring stories to life–stories that celebrate the rich tapestry of cultures that make up the nation. LinLi Wan, a Project Editor at Pantera Press, is one of those guiding lights, navigating the complex terrain of the publishing industry with a passion for promoting diversity in literature. In this exclusive feature, LinLi takes us on a journey through her role, her inspirations, and her vision for the future of Asian Australian voices in literature.
Behind the Curtain of Pantera Press
‘Project Editors at Pantera Press wear many hats, which is fun because I get to dabble in a little bit of everything!’ LinLi begins. Her role as a Project Editor involves being a project manager, ensuring that manuscripts receive the attention they need before reaching bookstore shelves. ‘It is mostly a behind-the-scenes role,’ she explains, ‘and I work to make the editorial process as smooth as possible for both my authors and publishers.’
LinLi also collaborates with the Submissions Editor to discover new talent in their ‘diamond mine’ of open submissions. In her own words, she’s either ‘putting out fires or starting them,’ signifying the dynamic and ever-evolving nature of her work.
Passion Born from Love for Literature
LinLi’s journey into the publishing industry was ignited by a deep love for books. ‘I fell in love with a series of books that completely altered my brain chemistry,’ she shares. ‘And when I finished the series, I decided that I wanted to help create books that would make others feel the way those books made me feel.’
As an Asian Australian in the industry, LinLi acknowledges that there are challenges, especially concerning the barriers faced by individuals from underprivileged backgrounds. She emphasises the sheer amount of unpaid labour she undertook to break into the industry and acknowledges that many aspiring talents do not have that luxury. She states, ‘I am privileged to have been able to undertake such work, but it was unsustainable and many others, especially people of colour, are not. The result is that I am too often both the youngest and only person of colour in a room, which is a challenge in of itself.’
Pantera Press: A Champion of Diversity
Pantera Press is renowned for its commitment to diverse voices and stories. LinLi’s role aligns perfectly with the company’s mission to promote diversity in literature. ‘I feel very lucky to work for a publisher whose mission aligns so closely with my own,’ she says. As a Project Editor, she not only collaborates closely with authors to share meaningful stories but also has the opportunity to seek out and champion diverse voices.
The Importance of Support
LinLi stresses the importance of support for diverse authors, emphasising that seeking out diverse authors is not enough; the industry must provide the support needed during the publishing process. She believes that the industry should not view its own faults as those of diverse authors or narratives but must actively work to dismantle systematic barriers.
Championing Diverse Voices
LinLi’s work at Pantera Press has introduced her to numerous projects and authors that have significantly contributed to cultural diversity in Australian literature. She mentions some notable examples:
- The Shape of Dust by Lamisse Hamouda with Hazam Hamouda, a story of overcoming injustice and straddling two cultures and identities.
- Kinky History by Esmé Louise James, a journey through the history of human sexuality with a joyful exploration of queerness.
- Human by Ziggy Ramo (forthcoming in April 2024), an intimate and powerful call to understand the effects of systematic racism and intergenerational trauma on Australia’s First People.
Preserving Unique Voices
When working with authors from diverse cultural backgrounds, LinLi emphasises the importance of understanding the author’s intention and preserving their unique voice and perspective. She believes in open communication and conducting edits that serve the author’s narrative rather than imposing external views.
LinLi’s advice to aspiring Asian Australian authors is to find a supportive community in the industry, develop a clear vision for their work, and trust their gut when it comes to preserving their unique voice.
The Power of Representation
LinLi sees platforms like Being Asian Australian as essential in promoting diversity and inclusivity in the literary world. By providing visibility to Asian Australians in the industry, these platforms inspire the next generation and demonstrate that success is attainable for everyone.
Future Endeavours at Pantera Press
LinLi teases an upcoming project by Indian Australian author Natasha Rai, set to be released in 2025. Though she remains tight-lipped about the details, she encourages readers to keep an eye out for it.
In the coming years, LinLi hopes to witness exponential growth in the representation of Asian Australian voices in Australian literature. She envisions multifaceted Asian representation, authentic characters, and a wide range of narratives.
LinLi’s passion for diverse literature extends beyond Pantera Press. She recommends authors like Mirandi Riwoe, Shelley Parker-Chan, Dinuka McKenzie, Siang Lu, Grace Chan, Shirley Le, Vanessa Len, Ann Liang, Leanne Young, sydney khoo, Keshe Chow, Rebecca Lim, Gavin Yuan Gao, and Elfy Scott.
She also encourages readers to explore Amplify Bookstore for their Asian Australian literary needs.
In the ever-evolving world of Australian literature, LinLi Wan stands as a beacon of change, tirelessly working to ensure that voices from all backgrounds are heard. With her passion, dedication, and vision, she is helping to shape the literary landscape of Australia into a more diverse and inclusive one, one manuscript at a time.
For the full Q&A, please visit www.emmapeiyin.com