As a budding writer, British expat Alice Clark-Platts moved to Singapore from the UK in 2011 with her husband and then-two-year-old daughter, Constance. Following the birth of second daughter India soon after that, Alice decided to create a forum in which aspiring writers could listen to each other’s work, offer encouragement and bounce ideas off one another in a supportive, non-judgemental environment.
Now, just two years after its conception, The Singapore Writers Group (SWG) is going strong, with a network of over 400 members ranging in nationality from British, American and Australian to German, French and Indian, and a number of Singaporeans. Amy Greenburg spoke with Alice about her inspiration and the ever-growing group’s success.
What inspired you to create the SWG?
It was a serendipitous whim, really. I had been a human rights lawyer in my former life, but moving out here gave me the perfect opportunity to pursue my lifelong dream of becoming a writer. I was inspired to start the group as someone at the beginning of a new adventure in a new country – where, having had two children, I felt ready to try to create a new life involving writing and creativity. I thought that establishing the group was the best way to meet like-minded, interesting and diverse people who could become friends and part of that adventure.
How often does the SWG convene and what’s a typical meet-up like?
We get together in a member’s house once every month. There are usually about 35 attendees and we normally have a wait list. Generally, around six people will read from either ongoing or new projects, from novels and short stories to poems and articles. It’s a very supportive group, and the feedback is generous but incisive.
We have also hosted talks and events including a pitching workshop with New York literary agent Fran Lebowitz, who now lives in Singapore, and an evening with one of New Zealand’s best-selling authors, Andrew Fiu. In fact, Andrew is currently helping us to self-publish a book of short stories.
What will you call the book and when will it be released?
The book is called Rojak: Stories from the Singapore Writers Group. Rojak is a Malay word meaning “eclectic mix”, which sums up the different authors’ backgrounds. There will be 20 short stories, including one by Andrew. The book is currently being edited, and we’re hopeful that it will be published on Amazon in the next couple of months.
What else are you currently working on, and what’s your genre of choice?
I’ve written two novels. The first, Warchild, is a political thriller that was shortlisted for the UK Impress Prize 2013, and my second novel, The Weir, is a crime thriller. Last October I was signed by United Agents in London, and we’re working on seeking publication for The Weir this year.
What is your vision for the future of the SWG?
To create a real community of writers in Singapore, and also reach out to other writing communities in the region. I hope the SWG becomes the first port of call for creative expats who move here and want to try something different.
Are there any upcoming events that aspiring or experienced writers can attend?
We’re planning several events and workshops, and our next meet-up will be on 6 May at 8pm near the Botanical Gardens. Anyone is welcome – they’ll just need to sign up on our site ahead of time.