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Author Features

MEET: Thao Thai author of “Banyan Moon”

Thao is a writer living in Ohio with her husband and daughter, and both h’s in her name are silent.

Last Updated on July 7, 2023 by BiblioLifestyle

author Thao Thai
Banyan Moon by Thao Thai

What was the last book that you read that you’d now recommend?

The Secret Book of Flora Lea by Patti Callahan Henry; I found it tender and gripping, magical and compelling. This is a novel that blends history and fairy tales so effortlessly—I was pulled in from the start!

Have you read any classics lately that you were reading for the first time?

Hmm, I went through so many classics when I was an English major in college, but I saw that Emma Straub recently recommended Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys in her newsletter, so it’s sitting on my nightstand now!

Do you re-read books   And if yes, what was your last re-read?

Definitely! I’m currently rereading the Babysitters Club series because my daughter is newly into them. It still hits 😊 But I also reread short story collections frequently, like Lorrie Moore’s Birds of America.

What are your go-to genres?

I love literary fiction, as well as romance and fantasy. I don’t think there’s any genre I don’t enjoy, except perhaps horror, but only because I’m a giant scaredy cat!

What is your favorite childhood book?

I loved the Anne of Green Gables series. In fact, when I was postpartum and sleeping badly, I would re-read the series all night long on my Kindle. It gave me comfort at a time when everything seemed so new and scary!

What books are on your bedside table right now?

So many! Blood, Ink, Scribe by Emma Törzs, How Not to Drown in a Glass of Water by Angie Cruz, The Wishing Game by Meg Shaffer, Maddalena and the Dark by Julia Fine, A Living Remedy by Nicole Chung, Beautiful Country by Qian Julie Wang, to name a few.

Do you bookmark or dogear your page in a book?

I bookmark, but you never know what will become a bookmark—a coaster, my daughter’s recent art masterpiece, even a cocktail straw once!

What is your ideal reading setting?

I really enjoy my bed. I have one of those plush backrests that feels like a big hug, warm blankets, and perfect bedside lighting. Lately, my daughter’s taken to sneaking in next to me in the mornings, and we spend our first hour of the day reading together. It’s lovely!

Tell us about your favorite indie bookstore?

I’m a fan of Gramercy Books in Bexley, Ohio. It’s a smaller space with a great selection, and it shares a building with the cutest bakery and coffee shop. We spend many happy afternoons there!

Thao Thai's favorite bookstore

What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?

Likely the first time I read a book from start to finish. I’m a reader first and foremost, and the impact of words hit me from the very beginning. I’ve never lost my awe at the way language can transport readers. I hope I never do!

What literary pilgrimages have you gone on?

I’m not sure if this counts, but I went to Vietnam twice when I was in my early twenties. It shaped my relationship both to my heritage and the things I want to write.

Where do you get most of your writing and editing done?

I write in my office! I try to be disciplined about it, but often, I’m sneaking in a few words as I carpool my daughter to summer camp, or even in the bath via my Notes app.

Does writing energize or exhaust you?

I usually come to the page energized, but by the end of it, I’m exhausted by the act of poring emotion/detail onto the page. But it’s a good kind of tiredness, the kind that feels productive and satisfying.

How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

Three or four, at least, in a few different genres!

Do you read your book reviews?  How do you deal with bad or good ones?

I only read reviews if I’m tagged in them. Otherwise, I don’t think they’re meant for me—they’re meant for other readers, and that is just fine! I try to remember that not every book is for every reader and hold faith that my book will find its audience.

If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

Don’t try to write like anyone else. Spend all that time and energy finding your voice. Honor the stories that are meaningful to you, even if the world hasn’t yet made room for them.

When you’re not reading or writing, what are you doing?

I like to cook and sew and hang out with my sweet family. We’ve gotten into playing old board games, like Sorry, which can get very competitive in our household. I also have a soft spot for reality TV. Oh, and I’ve been into making my own greeting cards for friends and family. I’m currently covered in purple glitter and Elmer’s glue!

What are your three favorite things right now?

Watching gamers play Super Mario Bros. on TikTok (it’s strangely comforting), strawberry crumble with a massive dollop of Greek yogurt on top, and going to the pool with my kiddo.

What is your favorite travel destination and why?

We haven’t done enough traveling, but we recently enjoyed a family vacation to Nashville. I like being near the water, so hopefully, we’ll find time this year to travel to one of the coasts! San Francisco has a big piece of my heart, along with Portland and Charleston.

What’s your favorite meal and go-to drink order?

I love this question. My ideal meal would be a great sushi plate (spicy tuna handrolls, mm) with a side of truffle fries. And a big mango lassi. You’ve made me hungry now!

Thao Thai's favorite food to eat

What six people, living or dead, would you invite to a dinner party?

I’d love to invite my great-grandmother, who passed away a couple of decades ago. She lived through a very interesting time in history in Vietnam—as a single mother and business owner, no less—and I think she’d have incredible stories to share. Then there’s Bob Ross, Dolly Parton, Barack Obama (or Michelle? They should be a package deal), all of whom would bring laughs and loving insight. Padma Lakshmi would bring the best food, along with her usual panache. And Jane Fonda for her brilliance and advocacy. I think this would be such a dynamic dinner party—and honestly, I’m picking people who’d be really kind to my great-grandmother!

If a movie was made of your life, what genre would it be, and who would play you?

I’d love to think it was a rom-com or some kind of friendly, low-stakes sitcom—a Schitt’s Creek setting, maybe? I’d be honored to be played by Kelly Marie Tran!

What’s the last TV show or movie you watched that was really good?

I need to catch up on my non-Disney shows and movies! I enjoyed the final season of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. The centering of female ambition in the 1950-60s was great, and I liked how the last season tackled some of the significant themes using big flash-forwards.

You have to sing karaoke; what song do you pick?

“Eternal Flame” by the Bangles.

If you were being taken to a deserted island and could only bring one book, what would it be?

 I think I’d bring A Game of Thrones, The Eye of the World, or some other giant fantasy novel with a lot of characters. Novels like that comfort me, if only because I can tell myself those characters have it worse than I do, even if I am abandoned on an island!

Book - Banyan Moon by Thao Thai

Buy Banyan Moon by Thao Thai from: AMAZON / BOOKSHOP

Banyan Moon by Thao Thai is July’s Read with Jenna book club pick.

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