Today I welcome Alice Pung to How Writers Work
HOW DID YOU FIRST GET PUBLISHED?
My first book came as a result of short stories that I had written and submitted to different journals and magazines. My editor Chris from Black Inc called me up out of the blue one day when I was twenty, telling me that he had read one of my stories and liked it a lot, and asked if I would think of turning it into a book. That story eventually became my first book, Unpolished Gem. It was exciting to write a first book because you have no idea who will read it, so you are writing for yourself, and for the love of writing.
WHAT IS YOUR DAILY WRITING ROUTINE? DO YOU HAVE A RITUAL TO GET INTO THE WRITING ZONE.
I write whenever I can because I also work three days a week as a legal researcher. I like working in the early mornings, when my brain is not yet filled with the experiences of the current day, which can block creativity.
WHAT IS YOUR WRITING SPACE LIKE? DO YOU HAVE ANYTHING AROUND YOU THAT INSPIRES YOU?
I write on my dining table, because there is a lot of light there. Usually I have a couple of notebooks spread around me, and sometimes I will alternate between writing and reading a novel, so that I hear another voice in my head and not just my own. This helps with characterisation as often other works will remind me of the parts I may be lacking in my own characters, or remind me to keep a certain pace.
WHAT IS YOUR LATEST PUBLICATION?
My latest publication was a book called Her Father’s Daughter, about a father daughter relationship, and about my own dad who survived Pol Pot’s killing fields in Cambodia. Even though it is not a particularly thick book, it took me ten years to research and write! Every word in that book was a result of so much careful editing to get the balance of horror and hope just right.
WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON AT THE MOMENT?
I am working on a book about a girl who moves to a new high school. I am very excited about this book because I’m at the initial stage when the characters are just coming to me, so it is like meeting half a dozen new and complicated people who will be part of my life for a while.