I was born in Chicago, but grew up in Hong Kong. From a young age I heard stories about Australia from my mother and grandmother, who have roots in Far North Queensland dating back to the gold rush. I came to Australia at the age of seven and a half speaking only Chinese. When I learnt to read in English I felt reborn. It was then I decided I wanted to be a writer.
My Melbourne primary school had a wonderful library. I read all the classics, including Great Expectations, Jane Eyre and Little Women. Works such as Little House in the Big Woods and The Diary of Anne Frank were a revelation. I’ve loved the riveting power of storytelling ever since.
My first unpublished manuscripts were semi-autobiographical novels. “The Early Life of a Chinese Girl who Goes to Australia” (1998) and “The Making of Ruby Lee” (2002-2006) were based on memories of my early childhood in Hong Kong and my experiences in Australia as a migrant from the mid-1970s to 1990. The manuscripts were well received by major Australian publishers and selected by Carmel Bird for mentorship in the inaugural Australia Council – Emerging Artists Initiative (1999-2000). They were also longlisted for the HarperCollins/Varuna Awards (2005-2006).
Over the years, I have written memoirs, travel articles and short stories of diverse genres ranging from fairy tale to crime and ghost story to domestic drama/comedy. “The Girl with the Golden Hair” was shortlisted by Southerly for their Australian Dreams issues (2014-2015). “Madame Leung-Kett” was awarded Honorable Mention in the Family Matters contest for Glimmer Train magazine (February 2019). The ghost story, “Being Sylvia” was published in the 80th Anniversary edition of Southerly (December 2019).
“Dying for Yum Cha” was awarded Honorable Mention in the Mainstream/Literary Short Story category of the 89th Annual Writer’s Digest Writing Competition (August 2020), longlisted for the Bridport Short Story Prize (September 2021, top 5%) and longlisted for the [untitled] Short Story Competition (October 2021).
"Die Hard" was anthologised in Roots: Home is Who We Are, which features the best 30 short memoirs chosen from more than 2000 entries in the inaugural SBS Emerging Writers' Competition (Hardie Grant, July 2021). "The Girl with the Golden Hair" was longlisted for the 2021 CRAFT Flash Fiction Contest (February 2022, top 3%).
I am the recipient of an Australian Society of Authors 2020 Award Mentorship for Adult Fiction and other awards, including an Australian Postgraduate Research Award. I hold a BA (Hons), First Class Honours and a MA from the University of Melbourne. My work has appeared in Meanjin, Southerly, The Age, Australian Short Stories, Growing up Asian in Australia, and [untitled] Anthology, among others.
The short film, “Mei-Mei, speak more Chinese” which I wrote and produced, directed by Joanne Tindale, director of photography Jamie Woods, was selected as part of the Multicultural Film Festival 2023 Official Selection and was a finalist in the award category Open Category (Melbourne, August 2023). “Mei-Mei” has also been selected to screen at the Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts (ACCTA) Unsung Stories Gala at the Ritz Cinema, Sydney on 9 October 2023.
“Mei-Mei, speak more Chinese” will be released on SBS On Demand in mid-October 2023 and be available on the Victorian Multicultural Commission’s YouTube channel.
I live in Melbourne, and am a keen piano player and photographer.