Posted by: Lisa Hill | May 30, 2017

Meet an Aussie Author: Hoa Pham

Good news! Aussie author Hoa Pham has a new novella coming out soon. It’s called Lady of the Realm and it’s to be published by Spinifex Press later this year.

This is the blurb:

One day there will be peace in Vietnam. But not before more war.

Touched by the Lady of the Realm, Liên dreams of bones and bodies under the sea. The prescient warnings from the Lady weigh heavily on Liên, who is burdened by her inability to save everyone. But she knows that the Lady speaks most to those who listen.

Set against the background of the Vietnam/American war we follow Liên’s path across five decades that are punctuated by endless war and suffering.

Yet even in the most desperate of times, Liên refuses to be ruled by fear and anger and persists in her hope for a peaceful future.

I first discovered Hoa Pham’s writing last year when I read Wave (see my review).  I was really impressed by the sophistication of her writing about the cross-cultural issues that impacted on her lesbian characters.  So I was delighted when Spinifex Press put me in touch with Hoa and she agreed to participate in Meet an Aussie Author. 

Melbourne-based Hoa is a psychologist, author and playwright.  She has a doctorate in creative arts and also holds master degrees in both creative writing and psychology.  Her award-winning books span a ten-year writing career, and include

  • 49 Ghosts (Pearson Australia 1998);
  • No one like me (Pearson Australia 1998);
  • Quicksilver (Pearson Australia 1999);
  • Vixen (Hodder Headline 2000 Sydney), which won the Best Young Writer Award from the Sydney Morning Herald, and was also shortlisted for the Best Fantasy Novel in the Aurealis awards;
  • a play called Silence (Currency Press Sydney 2010), which was on the VCE drama list in 2010;
  • The Other Shore (Seizure Sydney July 2014) which won the Viva La Novella Prize; and
  • Wave (Spinifex Press 2015), which has been optioned as a film and rights for a translation have been sold to Vietnam.

Hoa is also the founder of Peril magazine, an Asian-Australian online arts and culture magazine.  (Australian readers who know their history will recognise the clever allusion in the title and the logo).

Hoa has received funding support from the Australia Council of the Arts,  has been on an Asialink residency in Vietnam, and has also had fellowships at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre and the Goethe Institute Berlin.

Here are Hoa’s answers to my questions:

1. I was born in … Hobart.

2. When I was a child I wrote …stories about musical notes and puppet plays.

3. The person who encouraged/inspired/mentored me to write was …the CAE intensive writing course week I did when I was 17.

4. I write in … heaven. [LH: Hoa is currently hard at work in the writers’ retreat at Varuna, so no wonder she says it’s heaven).

5. I write when … the need strikes me.

6. Research is … necessary and when not I call it fantasy.

7. I keep my published works in … a bookshelf.

8. On the day my first book was published, I … was doing my day job at a community health centre.

9. At the moment, I’m writing … a novel based around the Maribyrnong Detention site called “I could be you” and a play “Vivid” about a Vietnamese girl with schizophrenia who sees the ghost of her grand mother.

10. When I’m stuck for an idea/word/phrase, I…  go for a walk.

I do too, Hoa… I’ve written The Great Australian Novel five times over while walking the dog… I just haven’t written it down when I got back home afterwards!

You can pre-order Lady of the Realm from Fishpond, or from the Spinifex website, and you can keep up with Hoa’s work via her website.

Thanks, Hoa!



  1. I made an excuse about not reading the last one, and I’m wary of books about the war in Viet Nam, but the writing sounds terrific, so I’d better read one at least. And what an impressive string of degrees!


    • Yes, indeed, all those letters after her name – must be hard to fit them all on a business card!


  2. Hi Lisa, I just finished reading Lady of the Realm. A novella, beautifully written about tragic events in Vietnam. From the ‘American War’ to the destruction in 2009, of the Prajna Monastery.
    By the way, I hope your shoulder is much better.


    • Hi Meg, I’m looking forward to reading that one too:)
      Yes, thank you for asking, things are much better than they were. Not quite right, and I have to be careful how I use it, but I’m getting by without painkillers unless I provoke it.
      Really, I am very lucky that we have such good health care here in Australia.. Just imagine being in America and not able to afford the necessary treatment…


  3. […] interested in diverse Australian voices: Hoa Pham is of Vietnamese descent and Shokoofah Azar is an Iranian author now living here in Australia, […]


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