Interview: Rhys Leong

Hi guys! Today’s post is a little late, but I bring you Rhys Leong who is the creative mind behind White Chans–two books about white rats who have a unique outlook on life and Singapore. =D

Hope you’ll enjoy his words of wisdom!


If you had to advertise yourself on a poster, what will you write on it?

Creator of White-chans the three white Singapore mice

Why and how did you get started in comics?

I’ve been drawing comics since I joined the LianHe Zaobao’s Comics Fastfood team as one of the student comic strip artist. Reading and drawing comics has always been my passion since young, evident from all the doodles all over my textbooks!

How will you describe your personal artistic style?

I graduated from Engineering and don’t really have an Arts background, so I won’t say I draw very well. So I know my limits, that I can’t draw DC or Marvel kind of comics, but at the same time, I do know how to make people enjoy laughing at my simple single panel or four-panel comic strips.

Where do you get your ideas from?

While my comics may be simple to draw, like the White-chans, how difficult can it be to draw three white mice? But it is not easy to come up with ideas that can actually make people laugh. In a Batman comics book, you can draw a few pages just of Batman jumping from one building to another then punching some bad guys. But in my White-chans comic strips, I have to make my readers laugh within four panels. I guess being observant helps a lot. And also letting my mind run wild all the time.

What is your most successful marketing strategy that got people to pay attention to your work?

Same as the U.S. Presidential Election. Social Media. I just promote like hell on my blogs, on the White-chans Facebook page, and on Twitter. And then cross all my fingers.

How should an amateur artist go about gaining exposure for his/her work?

I’m still new in launching an ebook, with only two launched to date. So I’m not sure I’m the best person to advise on this. But I guess drawing more and posting more on the blogs help!

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White-Chan Living in Singapore is currently on sale at Kobo, an e-book platform. You can also visit Rhys’ blog to catch up on the latest news! 

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Meet & Mingle for Writers 2012

Yoyo! Do you have any plans for Halloween? If not, do consider coming down for this Meet & Mingle gathering that is organised by Six Degrees, a community for freelancers in Singapore.

If things go my way, I’m likely to be there so do make your way down on 31 October to Emily Hill for some Halloween fun and influential networking! XD

Feel free to dress up for the scary occasion if you like!

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Interview: Travis Low

Hiya guys! Were you good during my absence? Well, I was away in Taiwan for a trip and boy, was it fun! In one of my adventures, I actually stumbled into a shop that sold yaoi and hentai manga. And porn. =x

In fact, other than the shopkeepers, I was the only female around. Haha. Okie, anyways…today our awesome guest is Travis Low, the dude behind Funics. I’m sure our local comics artist will know him very well. In fact, he is the one organising the Comics Star Awards. =)

So let’s read on to see what kind of advice he has for you aspiring comic artists then!


Tell us a little about yourself. How did you get into comics in the first place?

I start to read and doodle comic since young. When I was 14, I start trying to send my comic to the Chinese newspaper, Lianhe Zaobao and the takes about a year for my first comic to appear in the newspaper (and it takes another year for the second comic to get published in newspaper.)

At the age of 16, I joined 联合学生通讯员 Lianhe Xuesheng student correspondents and switched to their Student comic club, Comix Fastfood漫画快餐 later. During the days in Comix Fastfood, I get to know many local comic artists and started to get involve in producing comics with a themes for newspaper too. I’ve also become Zaobao’s comic columnist in the later part. I was in Comix Fastfood for 14 years before I left the club officially.

Why did you choose to expand into China?

China has a big market with more opportunities and lower cost. Most importantly, it is a young and upcoming market. In contrast, cost in Singapore is very high, and the market size is smaller and diverse. If I continue to stay in Singapore, I’ll see myself earning a living as a comic course operator and providing illustrations and comics services for commercials, while doing comic in an “interest” basis, but that is not what I want. I wanted to produce original comics and learn the professional ways to market it.

You have done so many things from being the Founding Chairman of Nanyang Academy of Arts to organising events like the ComixJam 24 hours Comic Competition in 2005. What inspired you to take such an active role in promoting comics and art?

We have not yet establish a comic industry, there are so many things we can do. I hope to see that one day we’ll have a comic industry in Singapore, local creators can go into professional field make a living out of it and local talents & creations are able to stand side by side with comics and creators of any other countries. So whenever there is an opportunity, I’ll try my best to do something that I feel it’ll do good to our local comics scene.

Last year, I started the Association of Comics & Creative Industry Exchange, Singapore whose main aim is to establish a network of local comics and creative talents and to help promote and showcase their works and talent locally and globally. I am more familiar with the great China market, so there is a part I can play in bringing good local comics to other markets. For example, I’ve got a local comic《朝九晚五》by 无语 to get published in a China comic magazine 《幽默大师》 starting from this January. And I’ve also imported the Comics Star Awards星漫奖 to Singapore. Comics Star Awards is organised by Tencent, one of the largest web portal in China. They have a structured platform and scheme to groom wannabe into a professional and they are willing to give Singapore creator the equal opportunity. So I help them to bring it here.

In your POV, how should a writer or comics artist market themselves in order to be successful?

The best way is still to make your creation speaks for you. In my POV, when someone needs to market himself, he is providing a service. If you have a product(creation), you market your product. For creator, you will success when your creations are well received by the market.

What is the best advice someone has given you as a comics creator?

The best advice I had is from Mr Terence Choi, founder of Malaysia Gempak Starz. “做好的漫畫,只有不斷地畫畫畫畫畫畫…….作品不斷問巿.成績一定會出來的。一年基本要3至4本作品問巿,才可能集人氣、集讀者群。” The only way to produce good comic is to keep creating and get them published. One need to publish at least 3 to 4 books in order to get yourself known and build your readership base. This is fundamental, we know it but not many of us are practicing it.

The 1st Singapore comic character that made it into MMS and mobile comic in China

Most of us wanted to be a professional comic artist, but don’t draw that much because they treat it as a hobby. Some are productive but they have problems getting their work published. Some published their work, but when the sales is no that good, they stop drawing. So I think if you are serious in becoming a professional, Terence advice will be useful.

Is there anyone (writer or comics creator) that you think I should interview? =)

I’d like to recommend the secretary of our association, Rhys Leong, to you. She was once a comic columnist but stop drawing for many years. Recently she started to pick up drawing and created 100 comic strips in 3 months time and published it to ebook, available for android, kindle and IOS. I think she is one of the pioneer in local comic scene who create specially for e-platform. P/S: and to create and produce 100 comic strips after work is not easy, but not impossible.

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Travis Low (Comic Creator) is the multi-talented comics artist who has achieved many a title under his belt. He’s the:

  • Managing Director of Funics (Singapore) Pte. Ltd and Funics Creative (China) Co. Ltd
  • Founding Chairman of NanYang Academy of Fine Arts, Character Design Club
  • Adviser of Taiwan Comic & Animation Culture and Creative Industry of International Development Exchange Association
  • Mentor for Noise Singapore, Apprenticeship Programme 2007
  • Organiser of Character Design Carnival 2005 and ComixJam 24Hrs Comic Competition 2005 & 2007

Impressive, right? Heh.

What’s next?

Yoz! Just going to drop some updates for the upcoming weeks. =) I’ll be taking a break from blogging next week so the awesome people series will be back on 18th October. A day late, I know but it’ll just be for that week.

I’ll be interviewing Travis Low, the mastermind behind the Comics Star Awards, Funics etc. I’m pretty sure you comic artists (especially Singaporean ones) will know who I’m talking about. =) Anyways, you’ll like HIS story so do stay tuned!

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Interview: Mukul Deva

Hiya! What have you been up to lately, guys? Me? I’ve been writing postcards. Postcards, you ask? Yes, postcards to all over the world. If you’ll look to the right sidebar, there is a banner to the Postcrossing website. The idea is simple. You’ll get 5 different addresses to snail-mail your postcards to and for every postcard received, you’ll receive one of your own! The addresses can be as far-flung as Iceland or even as near as your own home country if you so choose. What an interesting idea, right? I personally love writing postcards as it allows me to practise squeezing whole paragraphs of what makes Singapore interesting into the small space that the postcard affords. LOL. After a while, you’ll start to realise that there ARE fun things about your country to wax lyrical about. =)

And the replies you get from the people you sent postcards are fun too coz they’ll also share a little of their lives on the other side of the world. XD

The “Liselle” postcards I bought from Lisa Lee seem to be pretty well-received by my Postcrossing recipients~! Hehe…maybe I should start creating my own Rainy Skies postcards myself. XD

Okie, on to today’s awesome guest: Mukul Deva! I first saw him at a APSS meeting in 2011, and I really wanted to chat him up. Unfortunately my natural shyness took over and I didn’t manage to get to know him. As fate would have it, however, Karen Leong not only chatted him up…she also eventually formed a partnership with him! It’s like such a lucky break for me. @_@

Anyways, Karen introduced me to him and we hit it off immediately. You wouldn’t guess it from his authoritarian air, but he is really a witty man of vast knowledge. His no-nonsense stance comes from years of being in the Indian military, which naturally provided the fuel for his bestselling military action books like  “Salim must Die” and “Tanzeem”. Impressive, huh? But then again, I usually interview impressive people. HEHEHE. Alright, enough of my random musings and on to words of wisdom from this man!


Tell us something about yourself that doesn’t appear in your public profile.

Are you sure you have the space…:) because there is a lot. It doesn’t say that I quit school pretty early in life – on realizing that education (not learning) and me were mutually exclusive commodities. It doesn’t say that I’m a die-hard romantic. And lots more juicer stuff which I’m keeping for one of those barely concealed biographies…:)

You are able to write and publish 10 books over the course of your writing career on top of establishing a security company & establishing yourself as a trainer/mentor/coach, how do you manage to find all the time, energy and inspiration to do all these?

It’s pretty simple actually.

Time – doesn’t need to be found. It’s right there – in touching reach – all rhe time. we have to learn to respect it and manage it wisely. Energy is inherent when you find that which inspires you. So all I would say is that we need to dream a dream and have the passion to live it. Everything else happens pretty much on its own.

Would you say that it’s important to live first before writing? Will reading widely suffice as well?

Not really. There are no set rules for any creative process – which is what writing is. Each of us has a unique perspective – we simply need the courage and discipline to share it with others

Where do you get the material for your books?

I guess I have a rather fertile mind – and ‘naughty’ too – which really helps since I write lots of thrillers..:) And of course I am a keen observer – of life and people.

How do you get readers to pay attention to you out of so many other writers of your genre in the world?

I guess I tell my stories well…:)

How will you advise a writer who has been writing for a long time but has yet to find any commercial success?

Keep writing…:) Practice DOES make perfect. And understand that writing is as much a science as an art – there is a process – by following which we enhance quality, quantity and speed. Learn to separate the WHAT and the HOW – that will make your job easier and the book more interesting

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Mukul will be making his appearance at the Singapore Writers Festival 2012 in the following events:

  • Multi-Hyphenate Writing Talents | 4 November 2012 | 10:00 am – 11:00 am
  • How to Write a Best-selling Novel and Screenplay By Mukul Deva | 9 November 2012 | 9:30 am – 10:30 am
  • Plenary Session with Mukul Deva, Lynette Owen and Malcolm Neil | 9 November 2012 | 5:00 pm – 5:30 pm

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Interview: Cheeming Boey

Good day, everyone. How quickly time has passed! Will you believe that it’s nearly the end of October already?! It’s like I’ve barely gotten used to September before October decides to roll around and give me a shock. =.=

Well, I’ve been busy with my freelance writing but no worries, today I am still going to do my best to entertain you with my awesome people series. =D Today’s guest will be, as previously mentioned, Cheeming Boey~!

Commonly known as Boey, this very talented Malaysian artist has a dry sense of humour that reflects brilliantly in everything he does. From his styrofoam art  for which he is best known for to his book of cartoons “When I was a Kid”.  In fact if you visit his Facebook page, you’ll find this rather droll description of himself:

boey is a malaysian animator/artist/author best known for his art on foam cups. he wears V-necks and he is also handsome (subjective)

Cute, right? And yes, Boey. I’m sure you have plenty of female admirers, no need to be so modest! LOL. Ok, enough talk. On to the interview!


In your opinion, what will set an artist apart from the rest of his peers?

Marketing. if u market yourself well, even stick figures can be YOUR style.

I would say, “think different”, but then it would be exactly what apple said, and I may get sued.

You first started out studying Advertising in university, what made you switch to computer animation instead?

Understanding that it wasn’t just a one man job. I thought when I watched Beauty and the Beast, that one guy did it all. The amount of work he did, turned me off.

You were the lead animator and game designer for Blizzard Entertainment where you worked on games like World of Warcraft and Diablo II, how is it different from creating cartoons?

Completely different. One takes forever to tell a story, the other, in a few hours. I prefer cartooning and I also work for myself. No more corporate ladders to climb. Sweet.

Your cartoon style seems to be vastly different from your other work like the styrofoam art, why the difference?

Because I can. because if I had a style, it would limit my audience who loves other styles of art. Art as a career is hard enough. Why limit your audience.

What inspires you the most in your artwork?

Daily life. The chance that i may draw something much better every time I start on a new piece, inspires me.

Knowing what you do now, how will you encourage or advise your younger and inexperienced self as an artist?

Failing math isn’t the end of the world. Quit crying, and go get some exercise you fat ass.

Ya. Exactly that.
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Love Boey’s sense of humour? Then proceed to his website at iamboey.com for a heavier dosage of humour and witty observations of life. And if you still can’t get enough of him, buy his book ‘When I was a kid” here. Oh, and he’s holding an open call for girlfriends. XD

Interview: Lisa Lee (Fashion Artist)

Hi guys! Today’s awesome guest is going to be Lisa Lee, the fashion artist behind fashion icon “LIselle“. I met her at the STGCC where I bought a few lovely postcards from her. I’ve interviewed all manner of comic artists and writers but this is the first time I’ve met a fashion artist. XD

You can tell that she has quite the entrepreneur streak in her by the way she has successfully marketed her designs through fashion platforms like merchandising and licensing. So read on if you want to attain commercial success for your own art too! ^_^

Tell us about your journey as a fashion artist. How did you evolve from being an artist to a savvy entrepreneur?

It was back then Lisa Lee3 years ago, after my completion of my studies in UK, I started to venture back to M’sia to start up my fashion brand career, Liselle. Liselle is a feminine fashion character I depicted while I was studying in UK. From the surrounding and sentimental atmosphere in UK, I depicted Liselle and her lifestyle around her. During my exposure of Liselle, it started to caught attention from my professors and also others collaboration partners in UK.

And slowly these has led me to more opportunities of career development of Liselle and eventually turning her into a substantial fashion art brand. Through the process of developing and managing Liselle, I began to being exposed to many industrial professionals that has been there to guide and also influence in a way of how I should carry a great work with me. There I met a lot of different professionals, and involving with projects and events that has eventually engaged me to learn how the real industry is all about.

Why did you decide to become a fashion artist?

I decide to become a fashion artist because ever since young, my mom has put me on to many beautiful clothes, and I was always being curious how I can actually express my thoughts and feeling deep inside me of a clothing or dress. So I guess these nature of being a fashion artist eventually began a root to me.

ImageWhere did you get your inspiration for Liselle from?

I depicted Liselle when I was in UK, therefore, it can be observe my inspiration truly derive from the atmosphere and surrounding that has been influencing my artwork of Liselle.The coming years, I will travel to Vienna and Paris to continue my second series as again, a great atmosphere is good for originality.

What made you decide to brand Liselle as a viable marketing tool?

I still remember how my professor used to tell me “What do you want to do with that beautiful artwork of yours,..think again.”There’s when I realized, to express a good artwork needed more than just plain depicting it. There’s a long journey I see in front. Today, Liselle artwork is for licensing business, Liselle is a platform for fashion event and show and also for merchandising product application.

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What are some challenges that you met while developing Liselle?

People. In Malaysia, it’s always a challenge when you start to do something people never really tried. But my greatest challenge is how I continuously believe and influence people around me that a fashion artist can be more than that if you believe in what you are creating. From a fashion artist to organizing, managing, event planning and communication,-it’s all a package if you want to do something real to you. And now, I have established my own company “Lisa Lee Creative” as a creative platform for me and Liselle.Lisa Lee Creative is a design company for me to run my design and creative business to corporate clients, manage and developing Liselle as my in house brand and also providing fashion workshops.

What are some of the most memorable moments you’ve experienced on your journey as a fashion artist?

Being really daring to challenge myself to make an event or idea come true. Many people might think I have experience in business or experiencing in managing an event as often you see me out there. But honestly and truthfully, everything is a first time. Initially, I do hesitate and scared deep down but I know if I don’t try, there’s no opportunity at all. There’s when I believe we do not need to do something with experience. Just do it if you want to, but you got to believe and find solutions. There’s where my tagline of Liselle came about –“Dare to Dream, Dare to Shine”.

What is the one golden advice that artists should remember if they want to establish themselves as professionals or make a career out of their art?

“Dare to Dream, Dare to Shine”

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You can visit Lisa’s work at her office and showroom at: 

B-3-18, BBT One, Lebuh Batu Nilam 2, Bandar Bukit Tinggi, 41200, Klang, Malaysia.

Website: http://www.liselle.com.my

Enquiries: enquiries@liselle.com.my | liselle_lww@yahoo.com

Upcoming Interviews & Wattpad

Hiya guys! Just wanna thank the lovely bloggers who have liked my various posts & interviews. =D Special mentions go out to:

The above are just a few of the many people I want to thank. If you’ve left a comment or been a silent follower of this humble blog, know that I’m truly grateful for your support even if I didn’t name you here. =D

In other news: If you’ve been enjoying the interviews I’ve done so far, you’ll be pleased to know that I have Lisa Lee (liselle.com.my) and Cheeming Boey (iamboey.com) on my awesome guestlist. Lisa is a fashion artist who has taken the fashion world by storm with her character design Liselle, a beautiful lady of high society while Cheeming is a multi-talented artist who can handle anything from game design, cartoons and even styrofoam art! XD

If you know of any other talented artists or writers that you think should be featured on AMWC, do leave me a comment after this post. Don’t forget to state the name & website of the person you’re nominating so I can go check them out myself! Hehe.

Next, see that little orange icon at the right sidebar? If you click on it, you’ll be taken to Wattpad–a platform where writers post their stories up for feedback and fandom. =D

In fact, Abigail Gibbs won a 6 figure HarperCollins publishing deal when she was discovered on Wattpad by an agent! Neat huh. It will be really swell if I can get to interview her but she seems busy right now so I guess I’ll wait till later.

Two of my stories “Rainy Skies” & “Haunted Persuasion” are currently uploaded there so please feel free to leave a comment or even…ahem…become a fan if you think I’m worth it. XD

Joyce Chng, a fellow Singaporean author of “Wolf at the Door” and “Rider”, is also there so we’ll see you there!

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Interview: Dave Chua

Yoyo! How’s your day today? Hope it’s been a fabulous one so far. =) To my American readers (if any), I know yesterday was the anniversary of the 911 tragedy. I know nothing I say will negate the pain and suffering of the ones who went through that awful episode but I have only the best wishes for you guys. Be safe, always.

Okies, today’s awesome guest is going to be Dave Chua! Born in Malaysia, he is the author of Gone Case that also happens to be a graphic novel adaptation collaboration with Koh Hong Teng. Gone Case also won him a Singapore Literature Prize (Commendation), which is like…super awesome if you ask me. His literary works include The Beating and Other Stories, The Divers, and Father’s Gift, which made him the joint winner of the SPH-NAC Golden Point Award for the short story category in 1995.

If you love Dave’s work, then you should go stalk him at the Singapore Writers’ Festival 2012. He, like Jason Erik Lundberg, will appear at a couple of events there. Just don’t be…like…creepy or anything. =x


Tell us about one memorable event that has been most fulfilling for you as a writer.

I would have to say when Koh Hong Teng approached me to do a graphic novel adaptation of Gone Case. It helped to inspire me to take fiction writing seriously again.

You’re a freelance writer who has worked with publications and productions, what made you decide to take a foray into fiction?

I took part in the Golden Point Short Story contest in 1995 and took first prize, which encouraged me to join the Singapore Literature Prize later on.

How has your experience in various media such as sitcoms, films and children’s shows helped you in writing fiction?

I would say that I didn’t have that great an experience writing for television here, where production companies make changes and cuts as they wish. For writing you control the storyline and can do what you want on the page, which is great.

“Gone Case” was adapted into a graphic novel. Why did you decide to collaborate with Koh Hong Teng and what was the process like? 
Hong Teng approached me about adapting the graphic novel, with the key word being adaptation. As he was adapting the story to a visual form, I wanted to give him more freedom, and as long as he kept the framework and the aims of the story, I was fine with it.

You’ve done many things and been to many places, what is the one piece of advice you wished someone had given you when you were still an inexperienced writer?

Read. You can’t be a musician without listening to music, and you can’t be a writer without reading.

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Dave will make his appearance at the following Singapore Writers Festival 2012 events so if you love his work, don’t forget to get your tix!

  • The City as a Character | 3 November 2012 | 2:30 pm – 3:30 pm
  • The Malaysian in Singaporean Literature | 3 November 2012 | 7:00 pm – 8:00 pm

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Interview: Jason Erik Lundberg

Hi there! =D

Ok, this was supposed to be out yesterday but I was out the entire day and was so tired out by the time I reached home, it completely slipped my mind. Sorry about it. >.<

Today’s special guest is gonna be Jason Erik Lundberg. If you’re a writer who also happens to be following the Singapore Writers Festival 2012 very closely, you’ll notice that he’s one of the very talented writers on display. XD

He’s the author of Red Dot Irreal (2011), The Time Traveler’s Son (2008), Four Seasons in One Day (2003, with Janet Chui), and over 80 articles, short stories, and book reviews.

Born in Brooklyn, Jason now potters around Singapore with his lovely wife Janet and a beautiful daughter Anya.


We know you as a writer, editor, and owner of Two Cranes Press, but tell us something that isn’t in your profile.

I’m a huge Nine Inch Nails fan. I bought Broken in a used CD shop when I was an undergraduate at North Carolina State University, and I have followed Trent Reznor wherever his musical path has led ever since. At current count in iTunes, I possess 841 music albums equal to 7,290 songs, and I can guarantee that I have listened to NIN the most out of all of them. Getting to hear the band live for the first time when they came through Singapore a few years ago was one of the highlights of my life.

How did you get into writing in the first place?

It seems like it was something that I was always doing. I wrote all kinds of little stories when I was a little kid; I remember one in particular when I was around seven years old that I even turned into a little book, complete with stick-figure illustrations, called “The Pulsar NX is Missing,” which was about ninjas stealing my mother’s car.

I saw praise for my narratives when I was a student, and even won an at-large prize in a literary contest while I was in high school. It seemed to be something for which I had some talent, and I was encouraged by my parents and teachers to pursue it. I started writing with the goal of publication when I was in college, and I haven’t looked back since.

You run Two Cranes Press with your wife, Janet Chui. What kind of stories do you look out for and why?

Unfortunately, we aren’t looking for any stories right now; since our daughter Anya was born in 2009, the press has been on indefinite hiatus. However, while it was still going, the anthologies that we put together featured strange short speculative fiction (fantasy and science fiction) that dealt with a specific theme.

These days, my editing work is for other publishers. An anthology of Singaporean speculative fiction called Fish Eats Lion will be launched this November at the Singapore Writers Festival by Math Paper Press, and the first issue of a literary journal called LONTAR will be out in March 2013; for the latter, I’m looking for speculative fiction set within Southeast Asia, from both SEA and non-SEA writers. Plus, by the time this interview is posted, I will have started work as an editor for Epigram Books, helping to shape the publisher’s line of novels and other long-form fiction.

The Time Traveller’s Son

In your opinion and in view of the local scene currently, do Singaporean writers stand a chance of having their voice heard in the international world of fiction?

Absolutely. Singaporean writers are already being heard all over the world in a variety of genres and publications. It’s important for emerging writers to realize that they are in no way limited by the shores of this little island-nation. Most literary journals and magazines accept submissions online, so there’s no excuse for not submitting to these venues.

How do you get your audience (and publishers) to take you seriously as a writer?

The most obvious response is to write the best that you possibly can, and never stop trying to improve or learn new things as a writer. Tell only the stories you can in the best manner that you can.

Also, don’t be an assbag in public, and this absolutely includes the Internet. If you want to be taken seriously, period, you have to be as professional as possible, which means reigning in any impulses to let your metaphorical ass show in a public setting. If people see you behaving like a dick, whether in person or online, they’ll be much less willing to want to read your writing.

Four Seasons in One Day

But then this question gets to the whole crux of what “taken seriously” means. I write in the vein of Salman Rushdie, Aimee Bender, Neil Gaiman, Kelly Link, and Italo Calvino, which is to say in the style of “magic realism” or “slipstream” or “fantastika” or a half-dozen other similar labels. I use “magic realism” instead of “fantasy” because the gut reaction of many people is to look down their noses at you if you confess to writing in genre. I’m in no way ashamed to be thought of as a fantasy author, but I’d rather try to disarm preconceived notions so as to invite potential readers into my own writing. Then, once they’re hooked, they might be willing to read more fiction in a fantastical milieu in the future.

Which do you think is a better option for local writers: to query a publisher or self-publish their books?

When I was first getting published around ten years ago, self-publishing was still saddled with the stink of desperation and impatience and amateurism. This is no longer entirely the case (although the vast majority of self-published books, either in print or electronically, still display these qualities), and so there are more avenues now for a writer to release his or her writing to the world. The first book my wife and I put out through Two Cranes Press was a self-published chapbook called Four Seasons in One Day, which featured fiction from both of us and artwork by her; it was an experiment to see if anyone would even be interested, and we sold-out our 100-copy print run in just a few months.

However, self-publishing is an immense amount of work. Book publishers take care of editing, cover design, marketing, publicity, and a dozen other duties in order to get the book into as many stores and as many readers’ hands as possible; self-publishers have to do all this work themselves, and it is hard. Amanda Hocking is held up as one of the outlying cases in that she sold millions of copies of her ebooks that she self-published, but she worked damn hard to acquire that readership; plus, it should be noted that she has now gone with a traditional print publisher for her future titles because she was spending so much time on publicity and not enough on the writing itself.

A Field Guide to Surreal Botany

I’ve used both methods, but I’m still old-school enough to believe that if one wants to build a fan base and to see writing as a lifelong career rather than a get-rich-quick scheme, one should go through the traditional channels of approaching a publisher (and for larger publishing houses, this also includes acquiring an agent).

What will you say to a writer who has been rejected many times or even one who has never published before?

Don’t give up. The world is littered with millions of would-be writers who decided to stop at the first sign of rejection. I’m not the flashiest of writers, but I do pride myself on my faith in my abilities and my perseverance. Even when everyone around you seems to be getting published, it’s important to keep at it.

If after several years you don’t seem to be getting any better, and you feel stuck on a plateau of competence, maybe it’s time to take some writing classes, or attend a residential workshop, or join a writing group. You could apply for mentorship programs such as those run by Ceriph or the NAC in Singapore.

Also, try to surround yourself with people who see writing as worthwhile, and who encourage you in your pursuits. Honest criticism is important too, but you’ll need a support structure for those bleak times when you think your writing is shit, and the world’s out to get you, and the whole publishing landscape is a sham. These friends can help you to keep a positive mindset during those moments when the depression comes, to ride out the waves and put you back on track.

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Jason Erik Lundberg will appear at the following Singapore Writers Festival 2012 event(s) so don’t forget to grab your tix!

  • What I Talk About When I Talk About Music | 7 November 2012 | 6:30 pm – 8:00 pm
  • Stories from a Shrinking Globe | 11 November 2012 | 11:30 am – 12:30 pm

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