Showing posts with label Q & A. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Q & A. Show all posts

Monday 2 August 2021

Raelee Chapman chats with Audrey Chin, author of The Ash House.


At the 2014 Singapore Writers Festival, I met Singaporean author Audrey Chin by the coffee cart. This super-friendly petite lady with short spiky hair was raving about the muffins. We got talking and introduced ourselves. I was covering some festival events for this blog. It was awkward and embarrassing to admit I hadn't heard of Audrey or known that her novel 'As the Heart Bones Break' was nominated for the Singapore Literature Prize. Fast forward seven years, Audrey and I are good friends and co-run a book club together that focuses on reading Asian literature. I am thrilled to invite her back to Asian Books Blog to discuss her new Asian gothic novel 'The Ash House'. 

Wednesday 14 November 2018


You think being a small indie publisher is challenging? Then trying being a small indie publisher who focuses on translations from Chinese! Today, Nicky Harman interviews Roh-Suan Tung, of Balestier Press, about what propelled him into publishing, his favourite books and his hopes for the future.

Founded in 2013, Balestier Press is an independent publisher of Asian literature and books related to Asia, including novels, essays and picture books, for children, young adults and adults. Balestier aims to provide a diverse platform for the different voices in Asia by publishing the best and most innovative Asian literature. Director Roh-Suan Tung says: “We hope to promote a greater cultural understanding and awareness of Asia, to tell the story of an evolving Asia through its people, culture, literature and artistic expressions."

NH Can you tell me how and why you got into publishing? I understand you came from a science background.
I started by publishing newsletters on media freedom in Taiwan in the 80s. I then became a theoretical physicist and served as editor for international journals and academic publishing for a few years. I enjoyed exploring the frontiers of physics and our understanding of the cosmos, and I appreciate the value of science, but I’ve always felt the need for more English-language publications in literary arts and humanities. Partly because I’ve lived in quite a few major cities in the east and the west.

Friday 27 April 2018

Q & A: Karien van Ditzhuijzen

Karien van Ditzhuijzen is the editor of Our Homes, Our Stories, a newly published anthology of work from migrant workers in Singapore. Raelee Chapman investigates, and puts questions to Karien.

Migrant domestic workers are omnipresent in Singaporean society. They care for our children, clean our homes, wash our cars and walk our dogs, but their inner lives remain mostly invisible. They are a sector of society most vulnerable to exploitation and too little is known about the challenges they face such as homesickness, wage deductions, illegal employment, abuse, health issues and psychological problems.

Sunday 30 July 2017

Q & A: Ovidia Yu

Ovidia Yu was born in, lives in and writes about Singapore. After a happy childhood spent reading, drawing comics and dramatizing stories, she dropped out of medical school to become a writer. She achieved international success with a trio of Aunty Lee Mysteries: Aunty Lee’s Delights; Aunty Lee’s Deadly Specials; Aunty Lee’s Chilled Revenge. Her latest novel, The Frangipani Tree Mystery, takes her crime writing in a new direction.

The novel is set in 1930s colonial Singapore. Ovidia says she chose to write about her grandparents’ Singapore because it was where and when most of the stories she and her friends heard as children were set. The Frangipani Tree Mystery introduces amateur sleuth Chen Su Lin, a local Chinese-Singaporean with a limp.  She is hired by Acting Governor Palin to look after his youngest daughter.  Whilst working for the Palins, it falls to Su Lin to help ace-detective Chief Inspector Le Froy uncover the cause of a mysterious death….

Friday 14 July 2017

Q & A: Balli Kaur Jaswal

Balli Kaur Jaswal is a Singaporean novelist of Punjabi extraction.  As a child, she lived all over the world, thanks to her roaming diplomat father. After studying for an undergraduate creative writing degree in the US she continued work on her first novel, Inheritance, during a year spent in the UK, where she was a recipient of the David TK Wong Fellowship at the University of East Anglia – an award made annually to a novelist whose work deals with some aspect of East Asia. She then moved to Australia to do a postgraduate teaching degree in Melbourne, where she met her partner. She ended up staying in Melbourne for 5 years. In 2014, Inheritance won the Sydney Morning Herald’s Best Young Australian Novelist Award. She then moved back to Singapore, and in 2015 her second novel Sugarbread was a finalist for the city-state’s richest literary prize, the Epigram Books Fiction Prize.  Her recently-published third novel, Erotic Stories For Punjabi Widows, was the subject of a hotly-contested auction won by HarperCollins, in London, for a six-figure GBP sum.

Erotic Stories For Punjabi Widows follows members of the Punjabi immigrant community in the UK as they struggle to negotiate between two cultures. It is set in London, in Southhall, an area which is home to a large Punjabi population. Balli says her novel is about “a group of Punjabi widows who sign up for a literacy class, which quickly evolves into a space where they can speak freely about things that their community considers taboo. At first, their discussions are centred on erotic fantasies but as the trust builds, the women become empowered to break their silence about other injustices in the community.”

Friday 16 June 2017

Q & A Gregory Norminton

Gregory Norminton is an English novelist of French and Belgian extraction, who has spent time in Malaysia, Malaysian Borneo, and Cambodia. He has recently published The Ghost Who Bled, a collection of fourteen short stories that range widely in space and time. He takes the reader from medieval Byzantium and Elizabethan London, to Japan and the jungles of Malaya in the more resent past, to Edinburgh in the present-day, and on to a climate-changed San Francisco of the near future. His scope is ambitious, but he says: “I reserve the right - as all authors should, provided they do the research and are humble towards their material - to set stories in places that I have not visited. Since much of my writing is either historical or speculative, what choice do I have?”

He answered a few questions for Asian Books Blog.

Friday 5 May 2017

Q & A: Michael Breen

A long-term resident of Seoul, Michael Breen is a British journalist who first went to Korea as a freelance reporter, contributing to a range of international publications. His wife is Korean, and he speaks the language, although he engages the help of translators and interpreters when necessary. He has just published The New Koreans: The Business, History And People Of South Korea. The book began as an update to an earlier one, The Koreans: Who They Are, What They Want, Where Their Future Lies. This was written in the late 1990s, and Michael found so much had changed that his intended update turned into a new book. 

Who are the South Koreans, and where does their future lie?  The New Koreans explores the nature and the values of the Korean people against the background of a detailed examination of the complex history of the Korean Peninsula, in particular its division, and South Korea’s emergence as an economic power.

Given this is your second book on the subject, are you worried tracking the contemporary history of South Korea will come to dominate your writing life?
I’m not done with Korea, but I’m done with this topic of the general study of it. A quick update to the new book would be manageable, but a major strategic shift on the part of the Koreans – like, say, re-unification – would need another whole new book and I’m not sure I’m up for that.

Wednesday 19 April 2017

Q & A: Choo Waihong

Choo Waihong has just brought out The Kingdom of Women: Life, Love and Death in China’s Hidden Mountains, an account of the Mosuo tribe, who worship the female spirit, and are the last surviving matrilineal and matriarchal society in the world. The book raises questions about gender roles in modern, urbanised society, and provides a glimpse into a hidden way of life teetering on the edge of extinction in today’s China.

A Singaporean, Choo Waihong was a corporate lawyer with top law firms in Singapore and California. She dealt in fund management law, not women’s rights, but, separately, she was involved with AWARE, a women’s rights group in Singapore; she acted as its vice-president for two terms.

In 2006, she took early retirement, and left behind the fifteen hour days of corporate life to travel in China. From the moment she stepped into the Kingdom of Women, Waihong was captivated. She became the first outsider to move into the heart of the tribe, where she stayed for six years. She now spends half the year with them in Lugu Lake, Yunnan. The rest of the time she continues to live in Singapore, while also travelling to Europe and America to spend time with her family.

Wednesday 29 June 2016

Lion City Lit: Q & A with Eric Tinsay Valles,

Asian Books Blog is based in Singapore. Our regular column, Lion City Lit, explores in-depth what's happening in the City-State lit-wise. Here, Elissa Viornery interviews Eric Tinsay Valles, Festival Director of the National Poetry Festival (NPF). This will run from July 29 to 31 at the National Museum, Lasalle College of the Arts, and other venues. 

Tuesday 21 June 2016

Q & A: Xu Xi

Xu Xi 許素細  is the author of ten books, most recently the novels That Man In Our Lives (C&R Press, September 2016) and Habit of a Foreign Sky (Haven Books, 2010), a finalist for the Man Asian Literary Prize; the story collection Access Thirteen Tales (Signal 8 Press, 2011).  Forthcoming books include Interruptions (Hong Kong University Museum & Art Gallery, September, 2016), a collaborative ekphrastic essay collection in conversation with photography by David Clarke; a memoir Elegy for HK (Penguin China/Australia, 2017) and Insignificance: Stories of Hong Kong (Signal 8 Press, 2018).  She has also edited four anthologies of Hong Kong writing in English.  Since 2002, she has taught for low-residency MFA programs, including at Vermont College of Fine Arts MFA in Montpelier where she was elected and served as faculty chair, and at City University of Hong Kong where she was appointed Writer-in-Residence and founded and directed Asia’s first low-residency MFA.  From January to May, 2016, she was Distinguished Visiting Writer-in-Residence at Arizona State University’s Virginia G. Piper Center of Creative Writing.  She is also co-founder, with author Robin Hemley, of Authors At Large, offering international writing retreats and workshops.  A Chinese-Indonesian Hong Kong permanent resident and U.S. citizen, she currently lives between New York and Hong Kong.

Thursday 9 June 2016

Q & A: Lisa Beazley

Lisa Beazley is a Singapore-based expat who has just brought out her first novel, Keep Me Posted. The protagonist, Cassie, is close to her sister, Sid. Cassie has a great husband, but for much of the novel she fails to realise it. She lives in New York. Meanwhile Sid has a horrible husband, and she fairly quickly realises it.  She lives in Singapore. The sisters share all their secrets in traditional, pen-and-paper letters. But Cassie scans them, and stores them online. Alas, she gets her privacy settings wrong, and so anybody can view them.  Private letters as public property? All hell breaks loose…

So: over to Lisa …

Tuesday 12 April 2016

Q & A: Anne Elizabeth Moore

Graphic novels are wildly popular in Asia, but how about comics journalism?  This mingles the techniques of graphic novels with those of investigative journalism.  Chicago-based Anne Elizabeth Moore is one of its leading proponents.  In May, she will publish Threadbare: Clothes, Sex & Trafficking, a collection of reporting, research, and art, exploring, amongst other things, how the darker side of the global fashion industry has roots in Asia.

Friday 30 October 2015

Q & A: Yeow Kai Chai

Lit-wise, Hong Kong and Singapore are both busy at the moment.  The Hong Kong International Literary Festival started on Monday, October 26, and runs through until November 8. Meanwhile, The Singapore Writers Festival starts today, October 30, and also runs until November 8.  (The two Festivals often overlap; when last year I asked why, I was told it enabled authors travelling long distances from the West to visit both Hong Kong, and Singapore.)

Yesterday, Phillipa Milne, Programme Manager, Hong Kong International Literary Festival answered questions.  Today, it’s the turn of Yeow Kai Chai, Festival Director, Singapore Writers Festival. (SWF)

So: over to Kai Chai…

Thursday 29 October 2015

Q & A: Phillipa Milne

Lit-wise, Hong Kong and Singapore are both busy at the moment.  The Hong Kong International Literary Festival started on Monday, October 26, and runs through until November 8. Meanwhile, The Singapore Writers Festival starts tomorrow, October 30, and also runs until November 8.  (The two Festivals often overlap; when last year I asked why, I was told it enabled authors travelling long distances from the West to visit both Hong Kong, and Singapore.)

Today, Phillipa Milne, Programme Manager, Hong Kong International Literary Festival, answers questions.  Tomorrow, it will be the turn of Yeow Kai Chai, Festival Director, Singapore Writers Festival.

So: over to Phillipa…

Monday 26 October 2015

Q & A: Chantal Jauvin

Chantal Jauvin co-authored, with Dr. Amporn Wathanavongs, The Boy with A Bamboo Heart, an account of Dr. Amporn’s life.

Dr. Amporn, the founder of the Foundation for Rehabilitation and Development of Children and Family (FORDEC), is today one of Thailand's most generous benefactors – but he didn’t have an easy start to life. Orphaned at six, he scrambled for survival in the markets of Surin.  At fifteen, he became a boy soldier, trekking through the Cambodian jungle. His tumultuous experiences left him prone to self-loathing, but through learning to accept the kindness of others he surmounted his self-destructive tendencies. After a spell as a Buddhist monk, he was able to follow his true vocation, and, eventually, to save the lives of over 50,000 street children.

Tuesday 14 July 2015

Q & A: Merryn Glover

Merryn Glover’s debut novel A House Called Askival was released in paperback in May.

Set in the hill-station of Mussoorie in north India, A House Called Askival is the story of three generations of American missionaries caught up in the political and personal turmoil of religious conflict.  Spanning Partition to the present day, it looks at India's bigger events through the lens of one family and is, at heart, the story of a father and daughter seeking peace - with each other and with their past.

Friday 3 July 2015

Q & A: Alice Clark-Platts

Singapore-based author Alice Clark-Platts, the founder of the Singapore Writers’ Group, has just published her debut novel, Bitter Fruits, through Penguin UK.

Thursday 11 June 2015

Q & A: Jemimah Steinfeld

Asia House, in London, is a non-profit, non-political organisation that promotes the exchange of ideas between the diverse communities of Europe and Asia. Each May it hosts The Asia House Bagri Foundation Literature Festival which features some of the best in literature with specifically Asian interest. For the first time this year Jemimah Steinfeld was Festival Manager – she is also the author of Little Emperors and Material Girls: Sex and Youth in Modern China.  I asked her to reflect on this year’s recently-concluded Festival.

Thursday 23 April 2015

Q & A: English PEN

English PEN is the founding centre of a worldwide writers’ association with 145 centres in more than 100 countries. The organisation campaigns to defend writers and readers around the world whose right to freedom of expression is at risk.

PEN works to remove inequalities which prevent people’s enjoyment of, and learning from, literature. It matches writers with marginalised groups, such as refugees, and women and young people who have been victims of trafficking.

PEN promotes translation into English of published work in foreign languages which is considered to be of outstanding literary merit. Many of these works are to be found on World Bookshelf, its collection of contemporary literature in translation. Meanwhile, PEN Atlas features literary dispatches from around the world.

Erica Jarnes, Writers in Translation Programme Manager, and Cat Lucas, who runs the Writers at Risk Programme, collaborated on answering questions.

Thursday 9 April 2015

Q & A: Julianne Schultz / New Asia Now

Griffith Review is Australia’s leading literary quarterly. Each issue is themed. Recent editions have covered topics as varied as renewal after natural disaster (Surviving, edition 35), globalisation (Small World, edition 37), and migration within the Pacific, (Pacific Highways, edition 43).  Each themed collection features a mix of essays, memoir, reportage, short fiction, poetry and visual essays by emerging and established authors who tease out the complexities of the subjects and events under discussion.