The Star Features Miss Hon

Happy news!
The Star published their interview with Miss Joan Hon today. Thanks to Christina and of course to Mr Choi, the editor. (Who’s Joan Hon? Read this for a quick background update and of course, please come attend her talk on 12 Oct, which is free!)
Hankering for Penang
PENANG-BORN Joan Hon — an accomplished author and daughter of Singapore’s former finance minister — hopes to retire in her hometown which still evokes a myriad of fond memories.
The 67-year-old ex-teacher sees herself settling back in Penang where she used to live on Logan Road in her childhood days.
“It has always been my intention to retire in Penang where I’m happiest,” said the Singapore-based writer in an email interview on her coming talk in Penang.
Hon said her husband had just passed away and she was trying to redefine herself without him and still had attachments in Singapore.
“Penang is so different from what I remembered as a child. There are so many tall buildings and new condominiums now.
“My childhood haunts have disappeared but my favourite foods like heoh pneah are still available.
“Now I’m discovering a bunch of relatives I have never met which is pretty exciting,” said Hon, whose last visit to Penang was for the Feast of St Anne in Bukit Mertajam recently.
Better known by her pseudonym Han May, Hon will deliver a public talk about writing at the WomenBizSENSE premises, 56, Lorong Selamat, Penang, at 2.30pm on Tuesday.
Hon, whose writing is inspired by “simply having things to tell and talk about” said she would speak about the subject closest to her heart — writing.
“It will be motivational. I will be speaking about how I came to be an accidental author — and liked it; what I have been writing; my books; and how to write.
“Hopefully, some of the participants will find the impulse to start writing if they haven’t tried before,” she said.
Hon graduated with a BSc Honours in Physics and Diploma in Education from Singapore University and is a member of Singapore’s Institute of Physics.
She has published six non-fiction books — two of which received the Highly Commended Book Award and another the Com-mended Award from the National Book Development Council of Singapore while her only fiction work, Star Sapphire, also won the Highly Commended Award.
She also described her father, Hon Sui Sen, as a very well respected person.
“I learned from him integrity and honesty — and not to have too great a regard for money.
“I have never seen him lose his temper and wish that I had that quality in me,” she said, adding that they both shared a love for music, science and books.
For details about her talk, e-mail Admission is free.

A Writer's Journey by Joan Hon

I just got home from Kerala, India after a delightful one week.
India is pure madness, a country of such incredible contrasts that it is Incredible India.
But before I delve into that post, here’s something more important.
This is a free talk that my businesswomen’s group is organizing on 12th October.
Josephine, one of my friends and a die-hard fan of Joan Hon’s books, mooted this idea and asked if we could help her organize a talk for the Singaporean author.
Joan is a 67 year old Singaporean who has ties with Penang. She has written both fiction and non-fiction, with her most popular fiction being “Star Sapphire”, a sci-fi novel about a headstrong girl called Yva Yolan on her adventures in space.

Star Sapphire by Joan Hon aka Han May
Star Sapphire by Joan Hon a.k.a Han May

Her science-fiction romance Star Sapphire won a High Commendation Award from the Book Development Council of Singapore in 1986, the same year when she was also awarded a Commendation prize for her better-known book Relatively Speaking on her family and childhood memories.
An autographed copy of the book, just for me, thanks to Josephine
An autographed copy of the book, just for me, thanks to Josephine

Josephine had presented me an autographed copy of Star Sapphire; I am halfway reading it now (as I am also halfway reading Edward de Bono’s Simplicity, Brian Tracy’s The Psychology of Selling and a book I got from India called Healing Mantras).
Come join us as we pick Joan’s brains about writing and being a writer. The fact is, it is rare for writers to come to Penang so this is really your golden chance to speak to a writer who is making a special trip here and whom you get to meet, for free!
We have limited space though as it will be held at 56, Lorong Selamat (1st floor). Here’s a map to the venue.
Title: A Writer’s Journey by Joan Hon
Date: 12 October (Tues)
Time: 2.30pm
Venue: 1st Floor, 56, Lorong Selamat, Penang
[Open to public, men and women alike]
Please spread the message to your friends too, especially those who love writing, love books and want to meet Joan, who is also the daughter of the former Finance Minister of S’pore (her father, the late Hon Sui Sen, was actually from Balik Pulau).
She wrote a book “Relatively Speaking” chronicling her father’s growing up years in Balik Pulau and later his position as the Finance Minister of Singapore. Among the anecdotes were about her father’s attempt to learn Mandarin together with Lee Kuan Yew, and how they shared tapes and monitored each other’s progress!
Her late father was often regarded as one of Southeast Asia’s most successful economic planners besides being one with the most integrity! A British official, upon meeting Joan’s mother, says, “Pleased to meet you. I hear your husband is the most honest man in the [Singapore] civil service”. This remark, says Joan, was to her the highest accolade and the most meaningful among all her father’s achievements.
The Star will be publishing an interview they did with her, hopefully before Joan comes on the 12th.
Joan will share snippets of her writer’s life and how a physics teacher like her ended up a sci-fi writer!
Below are some areas she will be talking about on 12 October (as copied off her email to Josephine):
* I would tell my “accidental author” story how I came to be writing books.
* Account of how each of my books came to be written.
* How I seem to have three identities: Joan Hon writes non-fiction, Joan Fong writes Physics, Han May writes fiction.
* Giving talks to sell my books in schools and libraries, book signings in bookshops.
* My attempts at printing my own books. Setting up Hope Publishers.
* Difficulties of publicising and the options nowadays. POD publishing.
Email ( to reserve a seat at this talk.
I will also be talking to Joan Hon when I meet her next week so stay tuned, I might dig up more anecdotes from her about the writer’s life! I’m super excited!
The online community is also helping to promote Joan’s talk in Penang, thanks to Josephine who attended Blogfest recently. Thanks Jo and thank you fellow bloggers!
Alice Teh’s blog
Taman Sri Nibong RA Blog