Four questions with Alice Pung


Ten years ago we interviewed Alice Pung following the success of her award-winning memoir An Unpolished Gem. Four books, an anthology, and a children’s series later, we have a quick chat with Alice about life and writing.



Mirandi Riwoe: My daughter just finished Laurinda and loved it. She owns a copy, but I’m happy to report that her school library has many copies. It’s so exciting that Michelle Law is developing your book into a screenplay—I went to see her play Single Asian Female, which was so moving and funny. Are you looking forward to seeing Laurinda in its new format?

Alice Pung: Yes, I am. I can’t wait to see Michelle Law’s screenplay of Laurinda come to fruition! I was so elated when I found out that she was going to write the screenplay, because honestly I could think of no better person for the task. I love Michelle’s work, spanning from her earlier film Bloomers, to The Family Law and Homecoming Queens. She’s got a real knack for mining that fine balance between humour and pathos, the grotesque and the sublime. She understands young adults. She’s a brilliant writer and actress, and a strong advocate of diverse representation. The book could not be in better hands!

I really didn’t want to write the screenplay myself. I know my limitations, and a film is very different to a novel—something Michelle understands. I really hope the film gets made, because already we have had young adults sending us messages of anticipation and excitement.


M.R: I recently listened to you speak at a Queensland Writers Centre salon. You related a very entertaining story of Mars Bars and socioeconomics. Are you working on anything new at the moment?

A.P: I am seven months pregnant at the moment, so I guess I am working on forming a second set of lungs, kidneys, arms and legs! But in terms of my writing, I am working very slowly on my next young adult book, trying to get the voice right.


M.R: When do you find is the best time to write?

A.P: I have a public service job that I have been going to for ten years, and a toddler at home when I am not at work; so any time in between that I can find. Many writers don’t have the luxury of choosing a time that suits them to write, but we are thinking a lot of the time and that counts.


M.R: Ten years ago you told us about the Buddha statue in your room. Do you still have it?

A.P: Yes I do! It still reminds me that everything is impermanent, which is still a comforting thought, as it means I try not to take anything for granted.

Mirandi Riwoe

Author: Mirandi Riwoe

Mirandi Riwoe’s debut novel, 'She be Damned', was released in 2017 and her novella 'The Fish Girl' won Seizure’s Viva la Novella V. Her work has appeared in Best Australian Stories, Review of Australian Fiction, Rex, Peril and Shibboleth and Other Stories. Mirandi has a PhD in Creative Writing and Literary Studies (QUT).

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