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.