Authors Heather Diamond, Gillian Bickley, Jason Ng, and publisher Pete Spurrier share their insights on memoir writing with WiPS

By Michele Koh Morollo

Organized by the WiPS Committee, Truth & Memoir, took place on the evening of 10 December, at the Hughes Room in the Foreign Correspondents’ Club. The event generated a buzz and excitement and was well attended by members of the Hong Women in Publishing Society and a number of guests interested in memoir writing, who got the chance to mingle with the speakers and each other over drinks and canapés before and after the talk.

Heather Diamond, author of “American Aloha: Cultural Tourism and the Negotiation of Tradition” read excerpts from her work in progress – about her cross-cultural marriage to a Hongkonger – demonstrating the importance of humour in memoir.

Gillian Bickley, a poet, writer, editor, publisher, and writers’ mentor at Hong Kong Baptist University and HKU Space, discussed her research methods for “The Golden Needle” – her biography of Hong Kong pioneer educator Frederick Stewart – disclosing how much patience and tenacity is required for the task of life writing.

Jason Ng has published four non-fiction books and is presently working on the biography of Hong Kong pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong, which will be published by Penguin. He talked about the rigours of his work process, and through reading an excerpt about his relationship with his mother, revealed the powerful way that memoir can foster intimacy between writer and reader.

Pete Spurrier, founder of Blacksmith Books has published numerous memoirs. He shared his experience with the audience and gave them tips on how to best prepare their works for submission.

Thanks go to Jo Farrell for spearheading the evening’s organization. Those who attended left with a better understanding of how to find their voice and their truth in writing, and hopefully, many will now be ready to begin telling their own life stories.