About Christina Houen

At Tyalgum copy copy I live in northern New South Wales, after over thirty years of living in Western Australia. I’m close to the Border Ranges, which provide a dark, moody and often mist-shrouded backdrop to the view from my place, across green rippling cane fields. I have a PhD and a Masters degree in life writing, and edit and mentor other writers, both academic and creative. I also help other people write their life stories, and I review books here on my blog and for Goodreads. My memoir of childhood, This Place You Know, is to be published by Ginninderra Press in 2019. I have another memoir waiting in the wings, and a third in progress. I am planning an anthology of stories of women whose children were abducted: a subject close to my heart.

27 responses to “About Christina Houen

  1. I have come here because of a recommendation of Sixth in Line.


    • Christina Houen

      Hello Margaret

      I’ve joined your blog, and I like your meditations, particularly the one on being solitary. I am in the same situation. Unlike you, I have not been in a long-term relationship with someone recently lost; but I agree with what you say about solitude becoming familiar and even necessary, without being desirable all the time. It is better to be alone than to be with someone you don’t want to be with continually. But to have lost someone you have loved gives the solitude a sharp edge which hurts at times.


  2. So good to run into you!


  3. I too have come via Elizabeth of Sixth in Line. I have recently taken extended leave from my work (which I loved) and am following my passions for local community, writing and family. I’m in the process of researching and writing an account of my Father’s side of the family – the New Italy mob from Woodburn/Lismore in a memoir form – so I have a connection with Northern NSW. I’ll bookmark you and return soon. My own blog is my outlet for telling stories both current and past. Every day has a story.

    steve capelin


    • Christina Houen

      Hello Steve, nice to meet you. Your life and work sound interesting, very engaged and interested in the people you meet and your community. I hope you enjoy writing about your father and his family.

      Shared stories enrich life, and every day, there are stories to tell, but our routines and habits and commitments often close off our voices. Here, and everywhere where people like you are telling life stories, we create the world anew.


  4. Hi Christina, I have a question to ask you. Can you please email me at wg1775[at]@gmail[dot]com (making the appropriate substitutions)? If you’d rather not, that’s fine of course.


  5. Leslie Martin

    Hello Christina, I just discovered your insightful blog. I am wondering if you still are engaged in reading/commenting on manuscripts. mentoring.
    thank you, leslie (ldmartin@berkeley.edu)


    • Hello, Leslie; nice to meet you. Thank you for your good words. Yes, I am an editor, of both academic and literary manuscripts. I’m currently doing a month as writer in residence at a writer’s centre in Perth, WA, so am doing a lot of mentoring and leading workshops. It’s a wonderful experience, meeting so many different writers and different kinds of writing.

      If you want to know more about my editing practice, please have a look at my editing website: perfectwordsedting.com. YOu can contact me directly through this, and I will answer any queries you have.

      all best



  6. Raoul Maher

    Christina I was ABUSED at Pinjarra please contact me at raoulmaher@googlemail.com as your email does not appear to work


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  9. Hi Christina,

    I just read your brilliant goodreads.com review of Isaac Bacirongo’s ‘Still a Pygmy’.

    Apart from your excellent writing skills you score full marks for empathy and compassion.

    Thank you.
    Ron Shaw (Perth)


  10. Hi again Christina.

    And now I’ve read your ‘Of time and space and the universe’.
    Like you I’ve read ‘A Brief History of Time’ and seen ‘The Theory of Everything’ (not surprising as Cosmology has always been a huge passion of mine).

    Stephen Hawking is indeed an atheist whereas with Paul Davies the jury’s out on the ‘God’ question -if I have it right Davies sees the order and beauty in the universe as synonymous with ‘god’ (though this is undoubtedly a gross oversimplification).

    Hawking and Davies ….two of the greatest intellects of our time.

    Just wanted to share that.

    Keep up the good work!

    All the best,



  11. Pingback: Writing for our lives | Sixth in Line

  12. Mark

    Hello Christina
    Perhaps you could give me a bit of advice – please. I have my great aunt’s memoirs – she died in the 1980s in the UK – and I’ve always wondered how I could use them as the basis for a PhD. Having just discovered you and the idea of ‘life writing’ I am guessing that there could be an opportunity somewhere. I am based in WA.
    All advice gratefully received


    • Hello Mark. Your question is very general. All I can suggest is that you clarify what your aims would be in writing these memoirs, and then decide whether you want to do it as part of a postgraduate degree in creative writing, or whether you just want to write them up first and then see where it takes you. Some of the WA universities do have creative writing departments; I’m not up with them any more, as I’ve lived in NSW for the past 5 years. But you could check out Edith Cowan and Curtin Universities. It’s also possible to do it online, e.g. through Deakin university. Another approach would be to join a Writers Centre like Katharine Susannah Prichard or Peter Cowan, go along to some of their workshops, and see where that takes you. A friend of mine is about to run a course in memoir writing, I think, at Peter Cowan. Her name is Maureen Helen. It might be too late to catch that one, but you can google or ring up and find out what is around. Good luck, I hope you have a wonderful writing journey.


  13. Anne

    I have only just come across your writing and blog. I am languages teacher in New Zealand and now I feel inspired to tell my own immigrant’s story and compelled to tell the life stories of those I teach. Thank you for giving me courage and hope today when it is hard to find our voice.


    • How lovely, Anne! I”m so happy you feel inspired to tell your story. We need to share our stories, and those of others, if we feel so inspired. There are many heartfelt stories out there, and you are right, it is hard to find one’s voice. Once you do, you won’t lose it again!! Happy storytelling.


  14. Hi, Christina, I came across your blog through a link shared on the Oxford Centre of Life-Writing blog page. It’s indeed a treat to read your writings, thanks for sharing them.

    I’m an aspiring Creative Writer based in India and have worked as a Journalist and Research Scholar for a couple of organisations working on the historical event of Partition of India, 1947.

    My ultimate aim is to write creative non-fiction pieces on human lives, and communities with the backdrop of any social/historical/anthropological cause. For example, I’m working on writing a memoir-cum-biography on my late grandfather, who was a professor of English Literature and a writer himself. He passed away when I was just a year old, and perhaps the similarity between him and me has driven me to take up this writing project on him. I’m researching intensively on his entire life, his struggles, life choices, regrets, failures, family and professional triumphs, and how his life has affected me. I’m keeping in mind all the social and historical events he must have seen.

    Currently, I’m looking at various Masters level Creative Writing courses, and feel stuck with how I should go about it. If I should look up courses that specifically teach how to write creative non-fiction or something that involves rigorous research also. I looked up Oxford Centre of Life-Writing and failed to understand if Life-Writing corresponds with what I want to write, and especially how I want to write.

    It’ll be very kind of you if you can suggest something on this. I would love to take it from here and discuss more on an e-mail thread. My e-mail id is seth.avantika@gmail.com

    Also, if you find some time, I would request you to go through my blog. I aim to record as many life stories as I can and simultaneously write personal essays. That’ll be very nice of you.

    Hoping to hear from you on this,


    • Dear Avantika

      It’s lovely to hear from you. I’m rather lazy with my blog these days; I don’t post very often, only when I have a lull in my editing work (I am a freelance editor of academic writing and fiction/non-fiction). As you are aware, my specialty is memoir.
      It sounds from what you say as though a hybrid course would suit you best, i.e. a creative component together with a research component. This was the kind of masters I did, a Master of Creative Arts at Curtin University, Perth, WA. There are several universities in Australia that run such courses, but I’m not at all au fait with what is available overseas. Re life writing, it is a broad term, and includes both research into the genre itself (as for instance is published in the Routledge journal Life Writing) and the actual practice of the genre, from memoir to biography.
      I will email you, and when I have a little spare time, I will look at your blog.
      I wish you luck with your search.
      All best wishes


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