Temi Oh was born in London, graduated from King's College in Neuroscience and in Creative Writing from the University of Edinburgh. She published her debut novel "Do You Dream of Terry-Two?" in 2019 in which she traces the inner worlds of an adolescent starship crew on a two decade-long astronomical expedition into space.
How many ideas for potential works do you have in your head?
I hear lots of writers say that they have too many ideas to write in one lifetime. I’m not one of them. I think I’m quite monogamous with ideas. Although there are a lot of topics that interest me, I work for many years totally focused on one project and I only know that I’m almost at the end of one book when an idea for another one starts to crystalize.
When working on a new project, how do you sift through competing ideas in order to move forward?
In two ways. For one thing, a novel is quite a large beast, 95% of the time I can devise a way to fit every idea that thrills me somewhere within its chapters. Otherwise, as I mentioned earlier, I’m pretty monogamous with ideas. I mean that almost literally. A novel takes a while to write, requires attention and devotion. In the early stages of writing a book, it’s all happy heady fun, everything is new, exciting, the start of an adventure. And then, a few months, a few thousand words in, and all the cracks appear the discontent and resentment. A few new shiny ideas might skate by my peripheral vision tempting me to grant them my attention. I tell myself, it will always be fun in the beginning, it will always be hard and tiring in the middle, but, if I stay focused, it will be completely rewarding at the end.
What writing habit do you have that you feel is impossible to shift? (That could be a particular snack, writing hours, location, caffeine consumption etc.)
Coffee, Coffee, coffee! Consistent comfort, daily joy, crude oil that powers this whole machine, these sleep-deprived bones. I seem to work best when I’m slightly sleep-deprived and when it’s dark outside (early morning or late in the night) when I don’t feel as if I have a lot of other options and when no one would pick up the phone if I tried to call.
The international literature festival berlin (ilb) has become an essential part of the literary calendar of Berlin. What do you connect with the city?
I’m ashamed to say that I’ve never been to Berlin before, although I’ve visited other parts of Germany. I’m really excited and so honored I was invited to. I’m really looking forward to exploring the city, walking around, looking at some churches. I’d also love to go to Berlin Zoo, especially now, considering the two furry new additions!