With a full house in attendance, entrepreneur Sir David Tang led an entertaining and informative Open Public Forum on Friday (22 July) with historical fiction writer Wilbur Smith, author and journalist Simon Winchester, and writer and filmmaker the Honourable Hannah Rothschild.
Watch forum video here: https://youtu.be/zzrZLg5Vhy4
The forum posed the question “How and What and Why do Writers Write?” It was part of the 27th HKTDC Hong Kong Book Fair (20-26 July), held at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre and organised by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC).
Opening the forum, Sir David Tang engaged the trio of authors to explore their diverse backgrounds and journeys that led them to writing. Each author detailed key influences from mentors, such as hero and now friend Jan Morris for Mr Winchester, to family for Ms Rothschild who wrote her first book as a biography of her unconventional aunt Nica Rothschild. Influenced and inspired by his upbringing in southern Africa, Mr Smith summarised the panel’s sentiments by saying “my characters are a composite of four to five people I know.”
Inspiring perseverance in young writers
Eager members of the audience were excited to engage the authors about their writing processes and how to persevere in the competitive world of writing and publishing. Following his sensational career as a journalist covering several world events, Mr Winchester explained his inspiration for writing as “you dream up an idea, and you just get a passionate eagerness to write it.” Mr Smith adamantly advised young writers “to have total self confidence in yourself.” Pursuing her own path for a life of philanthropy instead of the family business, Ms Rothschild summed up her thoughts to writers of all ages by saying “don’t give up, just keep going.”
Writing in the digital age
As well, the authors shared their opinions on how technology and the millennial generation have impacted the literary world. Ms Rothschild said, “I think people still have an incredible desire to read a book.” Mr Winchester agreed with her sentiment and stated that “the book as a physical object is roaring into popularity again” as literary technologies such as tablets plateau in popular interest.
The 27th Hong Kong Book Fair, which continues through 26 July, features a record 640 exhibitors from 35 countries and regions and offers more than 360 on-site cultural activities to promote the joy of reading and deepen visitors’ appreciation of different cultures.