Meet your new Non-Executive Director: Kit Fan

We sat down with Kit Fan, one of two new Non-executive Directors, to learn more about his background and his motivation for joining ALCS.

Can you tell us a little bit about your background?

I was born in Hong Kong and moved to the UK in 2001 to undertake postgraduate research at the University of York on the poetry of Thom Gunn. During my study, I realised that I enjoy writing poems and novels a lot more than academic papers. I’ve always led a double life; I work full-time as Governance Manager at the Hull York Medical School and my writing life often comes second. Like many writers, I need a full-time job to survive, and yet, I also can’t imagine being a full-time writer, as I enjoy being part of a wider world of work: people, conversations and interactions beyond the desk.

What inspired you to pursue a career in writing?

‘Career’ is too big a word. I think of my writing as a hobby, no different to cooking or yoga. Reading inspires me to write. For economic reasons, from the age of six my mother used to leave me in a library in Hong Kong. I spent my childhood reading, from shelf A to shelf Z. The library became a second home or womb. It’s still a mystery to me how my thoughts, like water particles, coalesce into clouds and cast shadows like words on the page, and how, as a reader, I drink up books like nectar.

What interested you about ALCS and what do you think you can bring to the organisation?

Copyright is the lifeline of creativity; without it, a writing life wouldn’t mean anything. I became a member of ALCS in 2018 when my second book of poems, As Slow As Possible, was published in the UK. The work ALCS does in upholding writers’ secondary rights is unique. It also plays a crucial role in the fight for writers’ rights through education, advocacy, and collaboration with national and international organisations.

As an author who has experience working in corporate governance, I would like to contribute these skills to the ALCS Board, particularly with how we assess risks in a fast-changing world, how we make decisions with ethics, accountability and transparency, and most importantly, how we represent our members and their voices, to uphold copyright when so many rights in the world are being eroded.

What do you think is the most pressing issue facing writers right now?

We live in a world where the border between fact and fiction, human and non-human have become more porous than ever. This poses real challenges to writers whose livelihoods depend on our craft of words; our diverse, independent thinking; and our solidarity towards each other. Faced with the threat of high-speed technological advancement and the cost-of-living crisis, copyright becomes one of the most – if not the most – essential safeguard that we must protect and build on. Given its track record, I believe ALCS is well placed to make positive change and tackle these pressing issues. I wanted to make a difference and that’s why I joined the Board at this challenging but exciting time.

Are you working on anything at the moment?

My third poetry collection, The Ink Cloud Reader, was recently published in April 2023. I alternate between poetry and fiction. Right now, I’m working on some new poems and my second novel, which, being loyal to superstition, I must not tell you anything about!

What are you currently reading?

I’ve been reading Gathering Moss: A Natural and Cultural History of Mosses by Robin Wall Kimmerer, a breath-taking book that seamlessly combines science, myth, geography, ecology, and history and helps me understand how the tiniest, unnamed things in our world define and redefine us, other species and our planet. I read Emily Dickinson every week; her poems are like vitamin D to me. I had my first visit to Istanbul in April and was halfway through Istanbul: Memories of a City by Orhan Pamuk, brilliantly translated by Maureen Freely. It feels like the memoir of all memoirs.

You can find out more about Kit and his literary works here.