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Asia Pacific Writers’ Conference, Macau.

Guest panelist – ‘When on the road and the superhighway is your writing life.’

Nov 5th at the Asia Pacific Writers conference in Macau.

Surfing tours, road trips, exotic and not so exotic postings, ex-pat bunkers, bribery for wi-fi, our panellists have done it all and will share with you their hilarious and often heartbreaking stories of a writing life lived on the road – in a globalised 21st century world where the digital nomad reigns supreme they will examine how the internet has changed the writing landscape – for better or worse.

Chair: Pia Mutsamaski

Panelists: Romi Grossberg, Tim Baker, Kiran Bhat

Asia Pacific Writers Conference, Australia

This was the first year that the AP Writers Conference was held on Australian soil.

Funnily enough for me it was a pain in the butt because I live in South East Asia and thoroughly enjoy each year meeting up with this amazing group of people in a different part of Asia. It was fun too though to be introducing Australia to everyone else from all around Asia, the Pacific, Canada and the U.S.

I would have liked to have had my memoir published by this point and be presenting it here but alas… next week I will meet up with my editor Laurel Cohn at the Federal Writers’ Festival and hand her my way-too-long manuscript to deal with before I move on the next stage of editing my memoir Hip Hop & Hope, from the slums of Phnom Penh.

 

So no reading for me this year at the conference but I was asked to MC instead which was fun too.

I had the honour of MCing the book launch of indigenous writer Philip McLaren’s book Innocent Abroad, Emmanuela Shinta’s book Me, Modernism and my Indigenous Roots and John Dale’s book Sydney Noir. What a fantastic group of authors. Lots of juicy questions and juicy answers.

 

 

Asia Pacific Writers Conference, Indonesia.

On Tue 24th Oct at Ganesha University, a 3 hour (or more realistically, 4 or 5 hour) drive from Denpasar airport in Bali (through stunning mountains I might add), I was on a panel as part of the 3-day Asia Pacific Writers and Translators 10th anniversary conference.

This was my 5th one.

The topic of this 90 minute panel was:

Belonging and Writing:
Exile, Homecoming and Return Narratives.

Just a small topic!

I was one of three on the panel and last minute became the moderator also as ours had to head back home south to Sanur. I was worried that being both moderator and panelist would be a little tricky with Osamah Sami on the panel – an award-winning actor, writer, director and stand-up comedian, with a memoir Good Muslim Boy and movie Ali’s Wedding. A lively and confident personality as you might expect, but also a humble young man born in Iran to Iraqi parents who moved to Australia as a teenager. The panel was rounded off with writer and PhD candidate from Queensland Australia, Sophie MacNeill.

What unfolded quite naturally was a juicy discussion on ‘home’, ‘exile’, ‘belonging’ and ‘identity’ from a Muslim Iranian, Iraqi Aussie, a born and bred Australian Aussie of Irish decent, and a Jewish Australian expat living in Asia. As you can well imagine then, questions of belonging and identity were about as straight forward as our panel’s participant’s stories. ​The audience seemed to really enjoy the discussion and had plenty of questions for us. Thanks to everyone for coming down and thanks to the panel for their honesty and courage in their stories. The 3-day conference was as always, full of incredible authors, editors, translators and publishers. Northern Indonesia was such an incredible place to host such an event, most of us having never adventured to this area before. Here is (some of) the 200-strong gang from over 23 countries.

Every year I take a photo of me with the AP banner, so here is this year’s….

There are many workshops on offer throughout the conference. I feel so fortunate to be meeting with such experienced people in the industry. I went to ‘Editing: An Insider’s Guide’, hosted by Cate Blake from Penguin Random House and Ian See from University of Queensland Press in a small group where we had the opportunity to listen, learn, share and ask questions.

Asia Pacific Writers Conference, China.

​This year’s Asia Pacific Writers conference was held across Guangzhou, Hong Kong and Macao at the end of November 2016.

Writers, translators, editors and agents from Australia, Asia and the Pacific meet annually to connect and share. On this night in Guangzhou after a full day of speakers, panels, workshops and discussions at the Sun Yat-Sen University, I read from my latest book ‘The 5-Minute Guide to Emotional Intelligence’ to a room full of colleagues and now friends.

Asia Pacific Writers Conference, Manila.

“APWT is the largest, longest running, functioning literary network I know of in South East Asia and the Pacific”

Says Philipino Jose Dalisay better known ‘Butch.’

What an absolute pleasure it was for me to join this gang of amazing writers, publishers and translators. This is my third year at this conference which is in a different country every year. 2015 was in Manila with the theme ‘Against The Grain.’

To summarise my time there, I:

– I was on a panel titled ‘True Stories Need to be True’ with Beth Yahp (Malaysian), Irena Cristalis (Dutch), Neil Garcia (Philipino) and moderated by Qaisra Shahraz (Pakistani).

– I attended Tim Tomlinson’s incredible workshop on learning how to write/say a pitch.

– I did a public reading of my story ‘Climbing the Walls’ published in Griffith Review: New Asia Now to a full room. I was also pleasantly surprised (actually straight out shocked and excited) to arrive at the reading and find my name and a photo on a large projector… naturally I took a photo of me… and me… having a moment 😉

Asia Pacific Writers Conference, Bangkok

The Asia Pacific Writers Conference ‘Reaching the World’ 2013 in  Bangkok was one of the first big writers conferences I have been to.

The CEO Jane Camens invited me to be on a panel as an ’emerging writer’ sitting next to published authors talking about writing ‘the truth’ in non-fiction which is something I am very passionate about. Needless to say I was super excited and slightly terrified when I arrived at this fancy building full of people (who were not in swimsuits and spinning hula hoops on the beach like I am used to).

So this was my lovely panel of female authors and we discussed ‘But it really happened’ to a room full of people. I think I even managed to sound intelligent and not swear. Go me!

Intelligent I might have sounded but my next big problem was the fancy and formal event at the famous Mandarin Oriental Hotel. What am I going to wear? I had borrowed a dress but needed some heels. Here is me trying some on in those enormous Bangkok shopping malls … block heels of course so I can still walk.

Next point of call were manicures and pedicures! Here is poet Elizabeth from Laos and I getting our nails done.

Now they are perfectly pretty to eat delicate chocolate.

Incredible local and traditional entertainment.

But the child that I am, I preferred to hang out with these elephants instead (who promote reading to children… and wierdo older Australian women….)

And then on the last night “a mesmerising evening of readings…”  Yep there is even a pic of me in the flyer … and then here I am actually doing my reading.

All in all an incredible event. Who knew it was to be the the first of many? I think Jane secretly did. Thanks Jane.

Oh but wait, there is more. The conference may be over but the workshops have just begun. Here was my favourite workshop with Fransesca Riddle-Short and our amazing group of women writers.

AND… then I went to Cambodia. Well I was in Bangkok already and Phnom Penh is oh so close I just had to go and visit my favourite people…. in the next blog.

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