I arrive to meet Alice for lunch at Balanced Living in Bukit Timah after her doubles tennis match. We are both hungry for something healthy, but I must admit I am hungrier for the details of her new novel, The Flower Girls, due for release 24 January 2019 through Bloomsbury Raven after a fierce publishing bidding war.
“I was seventeen when two year old James Bulger was brutally murdered in England by two ten year old boys. It was everywhere, all the press. I became interested in the story, especially later on as a human rights lawyer, in the way the case was tried. The Flower Girls similarly traces the story of two sisters, accused of killing a two year old girl. The ten year old is tried and convicted of murder while the six year old and her parents, are given new identities. But then something happens, I’m not going to tell you what,” she teases.
Damn it Alice, we know one another. From one writer to ano ther, please tell me more. “I think the twist at the end is really quite good. I’m going back to the UK to appear at the Cheltenham Literary Festival and hopefully will be appearing at some regional festivals next year when the novel comes out,” she further explains.
So how does a human rights lawyer become a fully-fledged author with multiple book deals? “I started writing when I was on maternity leave, when my daughter India was asleep,” she says. Alice did an online writing course through Curtis Brown and secured an agent after being shortlisted for the Impress Prize. It was from here that Alice’s debut novel Bitter Fruits ripened. In her spare time Alice runs the Singapore Writers’ Group which she founded in 2012 as a way to meet up with other writers. The group of professional and amateur writers meet monthly and attend workshops and critique sessions. The group has stemmed a number of published authors including Jo Furniss, H. S. Norup and Stephanie Suga Chen.
Alice aims for 750-1000 words a day and is still fascinated by crime tales. “Now I’m writing a novel about a musician who went missing five years previously. A journalist begins to reinvestigate the case and discovers that she may not have disappeared at all…” As we finish our lunch, I can see Alice is itching to get back to writing it. “I love free writing, the only thing I find tough is plot, working backwards.” It is crime after all. “What I need is to just get the words on the page,” she says. “If I have a good writing day, well, there’s no better buzz.”
Find out more about Alice and her writing at aliceclarkplatts.com
and the Singapore Writers Group at singaporewritersgroup.com
The ANZA Writers’ Group meets every second Tuesday of the month, 7pm, ANZA Office, 47A Kampong Bahru Road, 169361