We are so thrilled to have Alice on board for this year’s festival, and can’t wait for the exceptional insight and experience she’ll be sharing with us at The National Writers’ Conference. Author of Laurinda, Unpolished Gem, and Her Father’s Daughter, Alice Pung is an award-winning writer, journalist and essayist. She answered some questions for us about her work and being one of our Ambassadors for EWF 2016.
You’ve been a part of the EWF community for a number of years now. How do you feel about being an Ambassador for the emerging writers at the festival?
I remember my first EWF almost ten years ago – it was in the Melbourne Town Hall and I went to a session where an Iraqi poet read out his writing in his own language. There was also a 24 hour play generator, where playwrights had to produce a play in 24 hours. It was there that I realised that the EWF was a very different festival to mainstream writers’ festivals, representing original, boundary-pushing writers who otherwise might not have a voice – in any language. I am very proud to be an ambassador to this innovative and inclusive festival.
Where did you find your inspiration to write and to be a writer?
I read widely as a young adult and at university, and I was inspired by writers like Amy Tan and Maxine Hong Kingston, as well as John Marsden and Melina Marchetta. And of course, my mother, who doesn’t read or write: I am inspired by the way she sees the world through an unfettered lens.
You started as a non-fiction writer and editor, but you also came out with a novel called Laurinda in 2014. How is your writing and work process different/similar across the different forms?
When writing non-fiction, the difficulty is trying to make it read like fiction: I don’t mean to make it sound un-real, but to elevate it above mere facts and figures, dates and years, to bring in the heartbeat of living breathing characters that readers want to stay with.
When I write fiction I have the opposite challenge – fiction has to stay true enough for the reader to suspend disbelief and enter your world.
What other writers are you currently influenced by?
I judged the Stella Prize a month ago, and read over a hundred books by women writers: all of those books added to my interior world in some way, from Rebecca Poulston’s compelling memoir ‘Killing Love’ to a strange and wonderful near-perfect novella called ‘Formaldehyde’.
Do you have any advice for your younger, more emerging writer-self?
Just keep on at it. 🙂
Alice is the award-winning author of Unpolished Gem, Her Father’s Daughter, Laurinda and the ‘Marly’ books from the Our Australian Girl series. Her work has appeared in The Age, The Monthly, Best Australian Stories, Best Australian Essays and From the Outer. She is also the editor of Growing Up Asian in Australia and the upcoming First Lesson. Alice is a qualified lawyer and the Artist in Residence at the University of Melbourne’s Janet Clarke Hall.
The 2016 Emerging Writers’ Festival program launches on Tuesday, 10 May at The Wheeler Centre.
You can catch Alice at the The National Writers’ Conference – a two-day event in the middle of the Emerging Writers’ Festival, packed with over seventy speakers and featuring panels, workshops and performance. Early Bird Tickets to The National Writers’ Conference are available now.
Golden Tickets to the Emerging Writers’ Festival are also available now. Golden Tickets are your passport to the Emerging Writers’ Festival. They will give you access to the National Writers’ Conference, plus the rest of the festival including all panels, talks, performances and selected workshops.
This week, if you subscribe to the EWF Newsletter, you could win a Weekend Pass to The National Writers’ Festival!