More than Meets the Eye - Interview with Lang Leav

Sydney-based internationally exhibited artist, fashion designer and writer Lang Leav is fast gaining recognition for her immaculate skill of transforming heartbreak into succinct prose. Her first collection of poetry, Love & Misadventure is sculpted to take you on a roller-coasted ride tunnelling through an ill-fated love affair articulating the intricacies of love and loss; covering everything from the butterflies that flutter, to the euphoric rush of stolen kisses on warm, balmy nights right to the devastating plunge of heartbreak.

Some critics may regard her works as simple-minded and greeting card material but a strong, growing 120, 000 cult-like followers on social blogging platform Tumblr, seem to suggest there is much more to her poetry than meets the cynic’s eye. A majority of her readers appreciate Lang’s unnerving capacity to see inside the hearts and minds of her readers, translating a sea of complex emotions into concise paragraphs of beautifully crafted metaphors. 

Aside from her ability to tug at the heartstrings of her readers, Lang is one of the few authors and artists around who enjoys, and takes the time, to interact with her readers and fans on a daily basis, “I get a lot from interacting with my readers. I really enjoy the feedback on the work and knowing that I’m in touch with what’s going on around me. I really love talking to my fans because it’s not a demographic that enjoys my work; it’s more a psychographic. People who like the poetry have the same kind of mentality and you tend to like people who think the same way and like the same things you do.”

Although it seems that success has greeted her with arms wide open after disembarking a red eye flight, nothing ever comes that easy, “A lot of it started on Tumblr, and it followed on to Facebook. Instead of spreading myself thin over several channels, I thought it best to just focus on these two.” What started off as a simple act of sharing her work on a social networking site has transformed into a fully-fledged operation of churning out poetry, some of her own experiences and others at the requests of her readers.

Her readers have also emerged with a tradition of their own: Sending a photograph of them posing with her book, Love & Misadventure, which she in turn obligingly responds to with a personalized thank you note. Personal interactions with followers coupled with frequent sharing of her poetry on social media platforms have played key roles in the success of her book, which was initially self-published in June 2013.

The book received an overwhelming response “I was only expecting to sell a few hundred copies but I ended up selling much more than that. I begin to receive enquiries from bookstores and it was beginning to get difficult for me to handle distribution on my own” she said. The book, which was doing so well on its own, then caught the attention of literary agent, Al Zuckerman of Writers House in New York who sealed a publishing deal in a few days.

Similar to her pre-book launch days of sharing poetry, arts and famous quotations on Tumbr, Lang, who lives and works with her partner, writer Michael Faudet, still makes it a point to keep her social media pages constantly abuzz with activity – a job that is usually managed by marketing managers or social media executives. All while attending book signings at home & abroad and working on new material. “Promoting the book and answering fan mail has become a full time job, for both Michael and I. I’m not the most organized person but I try my best to keep to a schedule and make sure I get something out everyday on Facebook and Tumblr.”

When she’s not working on new poetry, putting together her second book that is scheduled for release next year or communicating with her fans, Lang designs clothes for her fashion label, Akina, which can be found in boutiques throughout Australia and Harajuku, Japan. She was also the recipient The Qantas Spirit of Youth Award and the coveted $25, 000 Winston Churchill Fellowship to study the Harajuku Girls, an underground sub culture found in Tokyo where Lang draws her inspiration.

Love & Misadventure hit No.1 on Amazon in the Love Poetry genre. It also missed the top spot for Goodreads Best Book of 2013, coming in 2nd to J.R.R Tolkien. You can purchase it from Kinokuniya, KLCC & Bookalicious at the Summit USJ. 

This article was published in the Unreserved on January 10, 2014.