Thanks to all who shared their thoughts on local fiction writing in Singapore. Today, I too shall share my feelings from a reader’s point of view.
As a fiction writer myself, I tend to write fantasy because that is the genre I enjoy reading the most. I do venture into horror, sci-fi and romance but above all, fantasy stirs my cup of tea. In fact, I owe this addiction to David Eddings whom I see as my inspiration and biggest influence. I absolutely dig his Belgariad and Malloreon series. I never get tired of his books, despite reading them for countless of times. And then there is Mercedes Lackey, Jim Butcher, and Laurell K. Hamilton. Louisa May Alcott and Lucy Maud Montgomery were the earliest influences who got me into serious writing.
If you notice, not one of my influence is Singaporean. Why? Coz there is not a single Singaporean writer I can recall who writes fantasy or anything else for that matter. Most, if not all of them, write about all things Singaporean. Even local writing competitions require works that specifically touch on the Singapore culture.
I do not deny that we have writers who are very good at writing on those themes and they rightly deserve their awards or prizes. But can we please not have such boring themes all the time? I mean, people read so they can forget stress temporarily and immerse themselves in a magical world of imagination, right? Why would anyone want to read something that is not new to them or worse, something they experience on a daily basis?
Ahem. Yes, I know. I’m biased.
But surely we Singaporeans can imagine a world that is at least as fantastic as JK Rowlings’ wizarding world! I’m pretty sure I’m not the only fiction writer in Singapore who wants out of the “No Money, No Honey” type of books that seem to grace every shelf in the local fiction section of any bookstore.
If I have to pick a local author, I’ll go for Jason Hahn. Yes, you heard me right. The dude who writes the Saffy/Amanda column in the weekly 8Days magazine. Coz I never fail to be amazed by his deadpan humour and his rather cynical but accurate observations of humankind in general. And most importantly, his writings doesn’t sound too Singapore-ish. Now that’s a local author I can imagine myself reading. =3
So yup…while I acknowledge that non-fiction and self-help books are more commercially viable. I believe that Singaporeans possess a piece of the imagination pie as well. We shouldn’t limit ourselves to memoirs, self-help, honest looks at Singapore’s sex trade or whatever.
It’s the same thing for local manga. Don’t limit yourself just because no one around you draws manga. Do it because you have a story to tell. You can always publish it online if you have no funds to print the book yourself.
But of course, be sure to practise quality control before hitting that publish button. =3
And to the rest of the world out there. Yes, we Singaporeans do write fiction. =)