Walk us through the items in your bag. Tell us how each of them speaks to who you are.
Umbrella Black – A shield against the forces of nature. Under the protection of the sturdy Umbrella Black, lightning has not hurt me once. Obtained in Japan.
S.U.M.O. (Non-fiction) – I grabbed this because I liked the picture. I am a shallow dude who judges a book by its cover.
Train Man (Fiction or Narrative) – An otaku falls in love. Sweet story with level 99 emoticons.
The Zombie Survival Guide – I would say I’m a planner.
Accounting Book – Notes go in there. Drafts, character designs, 5-year goals.
Post-It note – Says “Bread in the fridge”. Wife wrote it to remind me to grab breakfast
Crumpled paper – Hmm. This crumpled paper is quite wrinkled. Interesting…
Notepad – Contains doodles. All fiction writers doodle.
Keychain with Mother Mary – Makes me feel safe. Grants me entry into my abode.
Mints – Minty consumables. I believe that the packaging is not edible.
O.P. pencil case – It’s an antique of 15 years. I’m willing to let go of it for one hundred dollars! What do you say? How about fifty? Wait, five.
You have an interesting relationship with digital. We know you crowdfunded the publication of your first book! Why did you choose to go off the beaten path? How did you raise awareness about your campaign? How do you feel about how it turned out?
I think the beaten path would beat me. It leads into a jungle and there are boars, tigers and deadly insects. Only walk the beaten path if you’re armed and armoured. But I’m not a knight. I’m a cartographer. I locate “X”, map out the path around the jungle and just walk to my goal. On awareness. It was a big personal project. I made it a point to have conversations with everyone I knew. If my friends asked what I was doing, I told them “I’m writing a book”. Many were very kind and encouraging. I think the idea of someone writing an unlikely genre may be rather refreshing. I got a lot of support. On the crowdfunding’s results? It’s satisfactory. I am forever grateful to everyone who gave me a push. While crowdfunding has been great, I think it’s time to look forward. I have to keep walking towards “X” because “X” isn’t going to walk to me
Digital is offering authors the ability to talk directly to their audience, hear their feedback. At the same time, authors also play a much bigger role in marketing their books. What do you feel about that? How do you use social media to reach out to your readers?
It’s splendid. I try to be a real human being on social media. I don’t do that much marketing. I’d say about 5% of my posts are about my books. If I’ve got an event, social media helps me to get the word out.
Tell us about what you’re currently reading. What was the ‘hook’ that got you interested?
Aside from the stuff in my bag? I read mangas (One Piece and Kingdom). I read short stories by Ken Liu. I read up on painting. I’m going to find time to read Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children #3. Hooks… I shan’t go there. Hooks are backed by lines. Writers go on and on about lines.
We’ve seen National Reading Movement ads encouraging people to read ebooks, but the numbers for Singapore are still quite low. Why do you think digital reading is not as popular in Singapore, and how do you think this could change?
Two factors must be met.
1) Extreme ease of access
2) Sufficiently compelling content
Pop literature is the only way you will have a nation of readers. Content must be super rewarding. There is no other way to popularise reading.
Describe your creative process. Do you find yourself feel particularly inspired to write during specific times of day/places? What do you do on days when you feel creative inertia?
The night is my cloak and the pen is my dagger. I am a thief of tales, stealing from the empire of the mind. But life happens and I can’t stay up much. These days, I write in the evenings and weekends. I stab my way through creative inertia. Just sit and write and carve the way forward. It’s not even an industry secret. Haha. Writers are just brutes with ink.
The Saurus series is delightful! Tell us about how it came to be, and your collaboration with Mister Mineko When seeking creative partnerships, what are a few considerations to keep in mind?
Mister Mineko is a good human being. I think there is something mixed into her, like she isn’t just human. She might have some sprite DNA. How did she and I end up collaborating. I think it went something like this.
“Do you want a cookie?”
“I’m not cool enough for cookies.”
“You’re cool enough for cookies. Trust me.”
“Okay. I’ll have the cookie.”
She took the cookie and became my partner. In a partner, look for talent, synergy and integrity.
What upcoming works can our readers look out for?
Half Ghost might be pretty cool. It’s about a nearly ordinary boy, Nail, who moves to a haunted neighourhood and discovers that he has morphed into a jiangshi. Nail loses his way in the underworld. He embarks on a long search for the way home with the aid of several mysterious friends. It’s published by Math Paper Press. The book launch is happening on 19 November 2016, at 2pm at the Kinokuniya Main Store. Hope to see you there!
Horrorsaurus and Artysaurus will be ready before Xmas. More Saurus Series goodness for all.
What would your ideal last meal be, and what book would you pair it with?
My last meal would be hugs and kisses. In my hands would not be books – I would be holding the hands of my loved ones. Actually, every book is a just a love letter. Love is the most important thing of all.