June 5, 2011, by Thomas Legendre

Justin Hill: The Writer in China

Justin Hill came to the university for a series of events in May 2011. As a non-fiction writer Hill has written about Eritrea in Ciao Asmara and China in two works, A Bend in the Yellow River and The Drink and Dream Teahouse. His fiction includes Passing Under Heaven, a novel set in ancient China, and Shield Wall, the first of several historical novels chronicling the events leading up to the Battle of Hastings. He currently teaches at the City University of Hong Kong.

Landscape and Space: Perspectives in Creative Writing – a panel discussion

In conversation with Thomas Legendre and Matthew Welton, who teach Creative Writing at the university, he discussed the correspondences between writing about ancient China, contemporary Eritrea, and medieval Britain. He also described how landscape functions as a character rather than a stage or backdrop in his work, along with his process of rendering a place in fiction versus non-fiction. He concluded by addressing the challenges of historical fiction, in particular the difficulties of evoking a time in which one hasn’t lived, alongside surprising connections between the distant past and the immediate present.  Listen to a taster.

The Writer in China — a talk by Justin Hill

In this talk Hill recounted how he ended up working for VSO in China and, more specifically, how he began to write non-fiction about his experience there. He described the development of his writing process during his next assignment in the entirely different locale of Eritrea before another posting to China, where he was influenced by Latin American literature and Chinese visual art. After explaining why he avoids placing western characters in his Chinese settings, he concluded with a reading from The Drink and Dream Teahouse.


Creative Writing and Medieval Literature – writer’s workshop

Justin Hill came to the university and held a workshop as part of “Accessing the Medieval” series by the Institute for Medieval Research. He has written fiction and nonfiction and is currently writing a series of historical novels on the events leading up to the Norman Conquest in 1066.  He currently teaches at the City University of Hong Kong.

In the workshop Justin Hill explained how he uses medieval research for his work, how he chooses the backgrounds of his figures and how modern writers can access information on the medieval period. The workshop included a hand-on demonstration of creative writing.

Justin Hill with Dr Christina Lee

Posted in Creative WritingStaff Words