Sanaphay Rattanavong is a fiction and freelance writer based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the Bennington Writing Seminars. He has received grant support for his fiction from the Minnesota State Arts Board and the Walker Art Center (nominated by the Southeast Asian Diaspora Project), has had work nominated for inclusion in the Best American Short Stories anthology, and continues to publish both fiction and nonfiction across various platforms and publications. Currently, he’s working on a novel investigating the intergenerational effects of war trauma and displacement. His interests include neuroscience and cognitive psychology, especially how it relates to storytelling, climate change (because we all need a livable planet), self-development (especially mindfulness and habit formation), socio-economic and racial justice, among many other things (thanks, Internet). Like folks everywhere in search of a little sanity, with one of his many backpacks strapped in, he enjoys exploring the outdoors.

(In)Frequently Asked Questions

Writing Habits

Do you write every day?

Honest Answer

No, though I wish I did. How often and how much I write depends on a number of factors. But it’s rare that I go more than two days without at least a short focused writing session.

Favorite Author

Who is your favorite writer?

Honest Answer

I used to have various writer crushes during the shifting periods of my youth. Now I have too many favorites to pick one above the rest. They are not the sort of darlings you kill.

Desert Island

Which one book would you want to have?

Honest Answer

Well, shit. Aside from the snarky How to Survive Long Enough on a Desert Island Until Rescued answer, I’d say a long and involved novel by way of Tolstoy or Proust.

Raison d'Être

Why do you write?

Honest Answer

It makes sense to me as my main way of trying to make sense of everything. Of course everything can’t be made sense of, but it’s a start. (Secretly, I wish at times to not be impelled to do so.)

Reality

Is the universe a neural network?

Honest Answer

I wish it was, but can’t get over how much empty space there is. Our brains aren’t equipped to adequately ask, much less answer, such metaphysics.

Genre

Any thoughts on the matter?

Honest Answer

A product of organizational convenience for booksellers and librarians, genre has no place in the imaginative act of writing. Let infinities pool where they may.

“Perhaps art happens when the usual channels are not available and we have to find a new path forward. Sometimes in describing that new pathway, we open a door that is useful to other people, too.”

— James Taylor, from Break Shot: My First 21 Years on Audible

By the Numbers

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Alter egos I hope to adopt
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Books I wish to read each year
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Years old during my first trans-Pacific flight
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Average number times I fall in and out of love with the world per day
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UFOs I’ve seen that truly left me baffled
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Times per day the climate crisis creep into my thoughts, both bidden and not