by Edward Mak, Age 16, Hong Kong
Starting a writing career in Hong Kong is challenging to say the least. With the local population predominantly ethnic Chinese, the market for English short stories and novels is small and difficult to enter.
This is the problem that the Hong Kong Young Readers Festival was set up to solve. Very much like the Junior Authors Writers Conferences, it is designed to inspire interest in reading and writing but also to provide a forum for young writers and readers alike to share their ideas.
The Hong Kong Young Readers festival is structured in the form of a series of workshops that are spread over a two-week period. Interested aspiring writers are not bound to participating in all of the activities but rather can choose ones that interest them the most. The activities available cover a variety of genres and styles of writing, from historical novels to horror pieces.
Different activities cater to those in different age ranges, with some events exclusively for those aged 6 to 8 and, for those aged 12 to 14, events that deal with more mature topics or are more challenging in nature.
Past conferences have featured writers not only from the local community but from all around the world, such as Eoin Colfer, author of Artemis Fowl, and Alan Gibbons, who has been shortlisted twice for the renowned Carnegie Medal.
My last experience with this particular festival took place two years ago, as part of a school field trip to a meet-and-greet with Eoin Colfer. Originally anticipating a boring, monotonous lecture, I was surprised to find the two-hour sharing session not only engaging but also very thought-provoking.
His advice on writing stuck with me as a young writer. One tip I remember to this day is “start small but go big,” taking ideas and small details from your life—be it a falling leaf or a stranger you happen to walk past—and expanding them into rich and complex worlds in which you can craft characters, plots, and other elements of your story.
It is not only a learning experience but a social one as well. The festival is an opportunity to meet other young writers who share common goals and aspirations and a platform for one to share ideas for stories and help each other in the writing process.
Although this event is designed for those only up to the age of 14, aspiring young writers that are above this age range are welcome to join the Hong Kong International Literary Festival, a similar event that is coordinated by the same organization behind the Young Readers Festival. The next one takes place in about two months, and although it is predominantly targeted towards adults, it very much welcomes young adults who are aspiring to make it professionally as a writer in Hong Kong.
To find out more about either of these Hong Kong Literary Festivals, please visit their websites. For the Hong Kong Young Readers Festival, click here or to find out more about the Hong Kong International Literary Festival, click here.
Edward is a 16 year old writer from Hong Kong who loves to read and write. He is aiming to publish a collection of poems or short stories in the future.