You’re busy! How do you balance your teaching, writing and other creative and editorial projects?

For those who enjoy astrology, my many Earth placements (I’m a Virgo sun, and I have five total Virgo placements, which isn’t even all my Earth!) keep me grounded and well organized, which is both a blessing and a challenge. But I’d just say that I have a clear idea of what days I need to prepare for teaching, and what days I need to work on my editorial projects. I work best on different types of tasks on different days. Of course, sometimes, due to deadlines, these worlds feed into another. I always make time for rest.

You’re developing a new class at The Writing Salon focused on re-imagining and retelling classic tales. Can you tell us something about the class and what brought you to it?

Although I’ve always loved retellings and reimaginings, my particular connection to it is through my love of the novel, Frankenstein, which I’ve been obsessed with since I first read it as a teenager. I’ve been so excited about this resurgence of retellings in current contemporary fiction, especially retellings being used to tell the story through lenses of diversity, such as race, gender, queerness, disability, and other frameworks, opening up our ideas of those stories only being “for” a select audience and community. In our class at The Writing Salon, we’ll work through how we can retell a story in similar ways, and my hope is that students will bring an interest in at least one classic story that they can work on throughout our time together!

Do you have an underlying teaching philosophy that informs all of your teaching?

Yes! My underlying teaching philosophy is positive reinforcement. I was raised using negative reinforcement – both in my home life and in terms of the pedagogical trends of the time, and it’s been my belief since I was a child that you can reach students in more substantial and connected ways through flexibility, generosity, and openness. No matter where or what I’m teaching, it has always been a student-centered environment. I actively attempt to de-hierarchize my classroom, to strip away some of the white supremacist borders that we’ve been raised with and under.

Your new book, a contemporary retelling of Frankenstein called Unwieldy Creatures, came out last August — congratulations! What can you tell us about the process of writing the novel and getting it published?

Thank you! This is such a different book for me because it comes out of a love and interest in the original novel over half my life. I started writing the novel in 2019, from an observation of the rise of access in reproductive technologies at the same time that reproductive rights were being legally challenged. That tension felt like an interesting landscape for a contemporary Frankenstein retelling. I began the first draft in Santa Cruz at a writers’ retreat called Mary Shelley Month! And I finished the novel as COVID bloomed across the planet and in the aftermath of a heinous divorce. I’m honestly so stunned I was able to get it into the world, and I’m so grateful for those that have connected to it along the way. Lisa Pegram, who I met through online spaces, reached out to me as the Acquisitions Editor for Jaded Ibis Press, and working with her on this book has been such a dream. I feel so fortunate to have her love and understanding of what I wanted to do with this novel, on such an intimate level.

Addie Tsai (any/all) is a queer nonbinary artist and writer of color. They collaborated with Dominic Walsh Dance Theater on Victor Frankenstein and Camille Claudel, among others. Addie has an MFA in Creative Writing from Warren Wilson College and a PhD in Dance from Texas Woman’s University. She is the author of the queer Asian young adult novel, Dear Twin, and Unwieldy Creatures, their adult queer biracial retelling of Frankenstein. They are the Fiction Co-Editor and Editor of Features & Reviews at Anomaly, Staff Writer at Spectrum South, and Founding Editor & Editor in Chief at just femme & dandy.

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