Allen & Unwin » Faber Writing Academy



Hsu Ming Teo

Writing the Past: Using History in Fiction and Non-Fiction

with Hsu-Ming Teo


A two-day workshop followed by online coaching sessions for those interested in incorporating history into their creative writing – whether biography or family history, literary fiction or mass-market genres such as crime, thriller, or romance fiction.

How does history ignite the writer's imagination? How do writers conduct historical research? What kind of facts about the past do we need to know? How do we recreate a recognisable past with words? How do we deal with potential anachronisms in character, dialogue, and setting ... and when do these actually matter? What are the limits of fiction and history?

This workshop combines discussion of genres of historical fiction and research techniques with practical writing exercises and a trip to the Mitchell library to explore the archives.

The course includes:
• Two full days of intensive tuition from Hsu-Ming Teo from 10am to 4pm plus three online coaching sessions where drafts of students writing will be workshopped.
• A research trip to the Mitchell library (State Library of NSW).
• Lunch on both days and regular tea and coffee breaks.
• A complimentary copy of a recent A&U publication.

Book soon to avoid disappointment.

Praise for Writing the Past

'During this course I met other writers who had the same interests as myself, I learnt how to access various databases, ethical considerations to take into account and the importance of perspective and issues relating to writing about a time period with values that are dissimilar to these modern times. We had the opportunity to do some exercises in class to cement the techniques we were learning, and had a guided tour of the NSW Library with lessons on how to access their databases. As a result of doing this short course, I felt I had the strong basis to write my manuscript confidently and I was able to complete it fairly quickly.' - Lisa Venables

'(It) helped me shape my project into something manageable. A very intimate course with a focus on us as individuals as well as a group.' - Carolyn Matthews

About the Tutor

Hsu-Ming Teo is a novelist and historian who teaches European history and cultural history at Macquarie University. Her history publications include Cultural History in Australia (2003) and Desert Passions: Orientalism and Romance Novels (2012). She is currently editing a book on The Popular Culture of Romantic Love in Australia and co-editing the Ashgate Research Companion to Popular Romance Studies.

In 1999 she won The Australian/Vogel's Literary Award for her first novel Love and Vertigo (2000), which was also short-listed for the inaugural Tasmania Pacific Region Literary Prize and the Dobbie Award for women's fiction. Her second novel, Behind the Moon, was published in 2005 and was shortlisted for one of the New South Wales Premier's Literary Awards in 2006. Both novels drew heavily on South-east Asian and Australian history in the second half of the twentieth century. Hsu-Ming judged the 2007 NSW Premier's Literary Awards, the 2010 Man Asian Literary Prize, and the 2013 NSW Premier's History Awards. She is working on her third novel - a historical novel.

Please note in the event of unforeseen circumstances, courses - including tutors and venues - may be subject to cancellation or change.