Episode 1

Playing games and solving puzzles with Leanne Yong

Leanne is an Asian-Australian author of Singaporean and Malaysian heritage who loves writing the diaspora experience into contemporary and fantasy fiction.

She started her career as an IT business analyst (boring – her words, not ours!) and is now an escape room creator (much more interesting). She has designed internationally recognised games with her partner that weave unique puzzle mechanics with narrative.

Although she lives in Sydney, Brisbane is where her home is.

Our interview begins at  0:19:00

We've got a Substack publication now! On the last day of the month, we share recommendations for two things we reckon you should read/watch/listen to. The beauty of Substack is you can revisit all our old editions and comment on our episode updates to share your thoughts. Come say hi!

Caitlin recommends: Jennette McCurdy at All About Women 2023

We wouldn't usually recommend an event that's passed, but for a limited time you can rent the live stream of this conversation between Jennette McCurdy and our fave Rosie Waterland. Off the back of that Caitlin recommends I'm Glad My Mom Died by Jennette McCurdy and Rosie Waterland's two books, The Anti-Cool Girl and Every Lie I've Ever Told.

Michelle recommends: Wrong Place Wrong Time by Gillian McAllister

This is a twisty thriller of the best kind, exploring the little moments that lead up to life-changing events. Perfect for non-thriller readers and guaranteed to keep you up past your bedtime.

In this interview, we chat about:

  • Leanne's love for gaming – and why she didn't actually expect to write about it
  • Why Leanne 'aged down' protagonist Sam from graduating uni to post-high school to secure a book deal
  • Exploring cultural expectations, Malaysian food and supportive Asian parents
  • How Leanne got into gaming
  • The real games that inspired the novel's games – and how Leanne wrote those scenes
  • Leanne's journey to publication (and the many manuscripts she wrote along the way)
  • How Leanne became an escape room designer

Books and other things mentioned:

  • Hogwarts Legacy (game)
  • Take a Bow, Noah Mitchell by Tobias Madden (listen to us chat about the book here)
  • Red Dead Redemption II (game)
  • Final Fantasy 7 (game)
  • What Was Gamergate?

Follow Leanne @shewhowritesthings

Two Can Play That Game is available now. Thank you to Allen & Unwin for providing a copy of the book in preparation for the interview.

Connect with us on Instagram: @betterwordspod

About the Podcast

Show artwork for Better Words
Better Words

About your hosts

Profile picture for Caitlin Toohey

Caitlin Toohey

Hi, I'm Caitlin! I've been on bookstagram since 2016, a podcaster since 2017, and worked in publishing since 2019. So books and reading are my entire life. When I'm not reading, I like listening to Taylor Swift, watching sitcoms, and generally being a theatre kid.
Profile picture for Michelle Gately

Michelle Gately

Hi, I'm Michelle! I'm an Aussie living in the UK, working as a bookseller at Waterstones. I'm obsessed with storytelling in all its forms – I spend as much time watching TV or listening to podcasts as I do reading. Other hobbies include bouldering, hiking and generally obsessing about my pug Percy.