I wanted to take a moment to introduce you all to the Weird Asia News copy editor, Brent Stewart (AKA Stewart Brently).
I do not think we have ever done a staffmember showcase, but Brent works tirelessly making sure we have great articles on a regular basis, and if it wasn’t for him you would not have near the quality or the quantity of weird news from Asia as you do today.
Brent is 37 and was born and raised in Seattle, WA. The third of four boys, he was the first in the family to go to university and is often considered the black sheep of the family. Currently living in Taiwan, he offered to answer a few questions to help you get to know him a little better.
Brent with a couple of his students
So…who are you and all that hoopla?
I wear a number of hats. At present, most of my time is divided between teaching (advanced adult English–grammar and writing, primarily), writing (freelance medical and mental health articles) and editing. My biggest passion is psychotherapy, but I’ve yet to find a way to break into that field full-time here in Taiwan. So I take a few cases from time to time, working strictly with foreigners, most of them fellow ex-pats. I also run a whole foods takeout kitchen, when I have the time and energy to do it, that is.
How did you end up in Asia?
This is a long story, so I’ll give you the abridged version. Having been born in 1975, I grew up watching daily reruns of the David Carradine (R.I.P.) TV show “Kung Fu.” I’m pretty sure that had a major effect on me early on, and was a major catalyst for how I ended up where I am today.
So from that tender age, despite understanding none of it, I was drawn to things Eastern–namely kung fu (and other martial arts), Eastern philosophy (e.g., Buddhism, Taoism), and the mystery that is Chinese characters. I studied kung fu in my early teens. In community college, I selected Chinese for my foreign language requirement (it was that or Japanese, Spanish or French).
It just so turned out that I really enjoyed it, and was naturally able to pick it up easier than most. That led me to continuing to study Chinese for two years.
Then in 1997, after a six-month stint in a Theravada Buddhist monastery (I was only visiting), I landed in Taipei, at the ripe age of 22.
I began teaching English, and continued studying Chinese.
The rest is history.
Still like it? Why?
After having been here so long, I have a love-hate relationship with both Taiwan and the U.S. Nearly everything I dislike about home is different, if not the complete opposite, from here, and vice versa.
But I really enjoy the ultra-convenience that exists in this part of the world. The food, of course. The weather, for the most part (not a fan of the humidity, but I hate the cold, and we get so little of that here). I love my work, all of it. And Taiwan is really affordable, unlike the States (I can get by on 15 hours of teaching a week).
When did you get into writing and editing?
After taking a couple journalism classes (for fun), I became copy editor for my college newspaper. Add nine years of formal schooling onto that, 10+ years of teaching EFL, and a love of language, and it was just a natural progression.
I’m not half the writer I’ve ever dreamed I’d be, but editing is something I do well and truly love. Teaching grammar for so many years has definitely been the biggest factor in shaping that.
How did you end up wanting to be an editor for Weird Asia News?
Like I said, I really enjoy editing. And, naturally, I liked the site right off. But the copy editor in me got irritated with the number of little things I came across while browsing the articles. I thought, This is something I’d love to help with and be a part of.
Any specific articles you recall as favorites?
That’s way too hard to pin down. But I like most those that are both strange and funny. So anything that is so off the wall or disgusting to the point of bringing tears to my eyes gets the prize.
If anyone else has any questions for Brent, please leave them in the comments and I will do my best to coax him into answering them.