I work as a freelance journalist, most regularly for the South China Morning Post and Radio Television Hong Kong (RTHK). My first historical novel, A Chance Kill, reached the top of bestseller charts in Hong Kong.
Originally from England, I now live in the jungled fringes of Hong Kong. Dealing with the onset of physical disability – twisted and transposed to a character in A Chance Kill – prompted me to write. I studied history, education, global affairs and literary journalism at the Universities of Cardiff, Oxford and Hong Kong. When I graduated top of my class in 2011, I stayed on in HKU’s Politics Department as a Senior Researcher (focused on the rise of China and also the nature of soft power). I am now (2017) completing a second contract, researching the international relations between East Asian nations and China and the US.
My SCMP subject matter includes George Orwell’s prediction of the current Cold War in East Asia and a travel story on Prague: In Assassins’s Shoes. My articles are available here on my website and at www.scmp.com/author/paul-letters
I teach history part-time and have turned my two years as a ‘Radio Historian’ on RTHK Radio 3 into a podcast series called ‘This Month in History’, available here on iTUNES/STITCHER (and beyond). I’ve featured on BBC radio and across the US (e.g. ‘Lou in the Morning’, ‘The Michael Hart Show’ and ‘Stuart Vener Tells It How It Is’).
Here are a few of the interviews which focused on my first novel: RTHK Radio 3, 9 February 2015; RTHK Radio 3, 26 February 2015 (Part I, 20min50sec); sixty-minute interview and reading of A Chance Kill on Artist First radio (2015).
I’m currently working on the true story of a mass escape from Hong Kong during World War Two.
REQUESTS FOR TALKS: Contact paulletters[-at-]gmail.com
Past examples include Hong Kong University and the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club for When is fiction not fiction? The historical novel and truth – through the eyes of journalist and novelist Paul Letters. This talk explores the lack of a fine line – or any line at all – between fiction and nonfiction. Does historical fiction help us to understand the past? Can it be considered as a legitimate contribution to the historical record? What is literary journalism and what does it borrow from fiction? If journalism sways the emotions through the techniques of fiction, and if historical fiction (like A Chance Kill) bows to historical ‘truth’, should we all follow the lead of Hong Kong bookstores (where you’ll often find historical novels and journalistic accounts under “History”) and mix together novels, history and journalism on our bookshelves?