Monday, November 26, 2007

Launch of Times @ Pavilion

Times launched its seventh store at The Pavilion on 23 November 2007. I was invited read the chapter on Manglish. I did the proper English bit, she Manglish.

YB Dato Rafidah's parting remark was : "Not only do Malaysians speak like that, Singaporeans too."

I was there early and managed to take a picture of this lovely backdrop before the crowd thickened.

The authors mingling with each other. Chef Wan was comparing his and Siti Nurhaliza's Raya open house.

YB Dato Rafidah tossing the Merdeka Salad whipped up by Chef Wan. We all got to eat the yummy salad later. The core ingredient was so hoon. Mmmm... it was so delicious.

A gift for Dato Rafidah Aziz. Later I bumped into her daughter, Rohaiza, buying a copy of Honk! If You're Malaysian for herself.

It was good to meet up with other writers too. I met Florence Thomas, Amir Muhammad and Tan Twan Eng for the first time. Tan had rushed over from ntv7's The Breakfast Show. He's quite a shy guy but very nice. Also caught up with Lam Seng Fatt, assistant editor at The Star whom I've met once before at Menara Star.

The food was marvellous - plentiful and good to eat - all catered from the cafe located inside the Times. Do pay a visit to Times Pavilion.

The new store was outfitted at a cost of more than RM11 million and showcases more than 200,000 books and 600 magazine titles, said Ng. (Datuk Ng Jui Sia )

He added that books that could not be found in the store can be located at an online kiosk which gives access to four million English book titles.

The 18,000 sq ft store also has exclusive members' lounge, a 50-seat cafe and Wi-fi access.

"It will be a new book shopping experience and we have ordered special trolleys for customers to push around as they do their purchasing," said Ng.

Business Times, 23/11/2007

Temujanji @ Astro Awani

4 November 2007

I was invited to appear as a guest on Temujanji. This is an interactive talk show on Astro Awani, Malaysia’s first and only 24-hour news and information channel presented in Bahasa Malaysia and targeted at the Malay community in Malaysia, Brunei and Indonesia.

What differentiates this talk show from others is its interactivity. Here, members of the floor ask the questions. The show was divided into three slots with two breaks in between. In each slot, two members of the audience get to ask a question each. I had brought the roti horns as usual and got them to sound the horn before the question is asked.

A slogan I coined during this show (thanks to Eric Forbes for the inspiration) is 3B : Baca Buku Banyak-banyak or read lots of books. I hope viewers will remember the 3B slogan when they go to bookstores so that they will buy lots of books to read.

With talk show host, Amir Mahmood Razak

Part of the audience comprising of students from High School Kajang. Usually Astro invites MU students for the show but it was exam time in the university.

Group picture taken after the show.

The people behind the scene : (L-R) Fiza, Suhaimi Sulaiman, me, Yen Nee and Ada

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Health & Beauty

Health & Beauty October 2007

MPH Quill

MPH Quill Aug-Sept 2007 Issue 15

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Monday, June 25, 2007

Friday, June 22, 2007

Talk at UMW Toyota

Wednesday, 20 June 2007

This week, UMW Toyota conducted an Outreach Program with the theme of Challenging Knowledge for their employees. They asked MPH to hold a book fair at their spacious premises in Section 15, Shah Alam and as part of the program, MPH roped me in to give a talk.

My topic was Honk! If you want to read - Getting your kids (and yourself) to read. As usual I was worried about the crowd, or rather lack of it. But I needn't have. I had a captive audience. Approximately 50 employees turned up for the talk and 15 books were sold at the event. Best haul so far. After the talk, we adjourned to their cafeteria for some snacks. The cream puffs were excellent! And so were the gifts they presented to me : a tea and coffee making set as well as a pair of ballpoint pens.

This event turned out better than any book talk I had conducted at bookstores. As a bonus, I got to meet an old classmate whom I haven't seen since primary school days! Authors, this may be the way to go to promote your books.

UMW video-taped the talk. Alamak, all my flaws at public speaking are immortalized on tape.

Another segment of the crowd. SK was the moderator.

En. Rohiman Haroon, Asst GM of External Affairs. He's a voracious reader and prolific writer too (he wrote the script of Embun).

The proud owners of Honk! who stayed behind for a photo session. Intan Salmee is on the far right. She helped Rohiman to organize this talk.

Busy signing books.

More books to be signed. My handwriting became cakar ayam - fowl scratches.

Wanita Hari Ini, TV3

Tuesday, 19 June 2007

I wrote in to Wanita Hari Ini asking if they'd like to interview me for my book, Honk! If You're Malaysian. They decided to do a segment on mummy writers and blogging, and asked if I could rope in two other authors.

That was how Yvonne Lee (The Sky is Crazy), Jamilah Samian (Cool Mum Super Dad) and I ended up at TV3 on Tuesday. It was my first time at their studio. Though the TV3 crew had interviewed me twice for Nona, those sessions were taped at my house.

I think we had more fun during the pre-interview segment when the hosts, Wardina and Ivy talked to us about what they were going to ask during the show. When the cameras started to roll, naturally anxiety came along for the ride.

L-R, Ivy, Wardina, me, Yvonne and Jamilah

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

MPH Singapore

Author of the month for June 2007

Monday, June 04, 2007

Talk at Bookfest

Wednesday, 30 May 2007

Popular invited me to speak at their Bookfest. My topic was Roti Canai for me – On reading, writing and being Malaysian.

Though I had been informed that the talk would be held at the stage in Hall 2, KLCC, it was still a minor shock to see that they had arranged a table up on the big stage for me. My audience was seated way over yonder, separated by a big space and VIP chairs for the next event.

I began by taking my place at the table. I felt so lonely up there, speaking to the few people on the floor. My heart sank. Only two rows of chairs were occupied. Grace and her little brother as well as two of my kids were there to lend support.

After five minutes, I decided to make my way to the floor. Good thing I had told the organizers that I wanted to get close to the audience as I had prepared a quiz for them. With the cordless mike perched on my head like a superstar singer, I got nearer to the audience and got them involved in the quiz. Passers-by came in to listen and to nab the small token I’d gotten for them. Just before the event, I purchased 30 pieces of 30 sen stamps and gave away two to each correct answer. Towards the end, I only doled out one stamp per answer to make them last. After the Q&A, two elderly ladies promptly walked away with their stash of stamps. Ah, life’s like that lah.

Though it was a weekday, this talk was the best I’ve had in terms of audience number and number of books signed. I signed 8 + 1 books (a foreign worker at the Bookfest grabbed a children’s book and asked me to sign it for him). Either he thinks I’m a celebrity or he was that impressed with my talk.

I'm so glad Khim (third pix) came to see me. She has read Honk! and written a nice encouraging email to me. She has finished her first book, California satay, and is looking for an editor.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Malaysia College News

MYC! May 2007

Thanks to Esther for emailing me the scanned pix.

Shin Min Daily

7 May 2007

Shin Min Daily from Singapore picked up the news from Guang Ming and called to interview me for that very day's edition.

Friday, May 11, 2007

World Journal

8 May 2007

Thanks to KL from California who alerted me on Honk! If You're Malaysian appearing in World Journal, a Chinese newspaper published in USA. They picked up the news from Guang Ming Daily. KL read about it and emailed me to ask how to buy the book from overseas. I directed her to and she promptly ordered two copies of Honk! Thanks, KL.

Guang Ming Daily

Monday, 7 May 2007

Honk! is front-paged in Guang Ming Daily!

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

New Straits Times

Sat, 5 May 2007

NST Streets

Wed, 2 May 2007

Correction :

Actually I've lived in Klang all my life, which means it has been more than four decades. But for more than three decades, I lived in the Bukit Raja area which included Taman Berkeley, Eng Ann and Bandar Baru Klang. I visit my mum on weekdays, not weekends as published.

Monday, April 30, 2007

Malay Mail

Saturday, 28 April 2007

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Mix Fm

Mix Fm featured me as Author in the Spotlight for April 2007. Five copies of Honk! If You're Malaysian are up for grabs at the site.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Borneo Post Review

Borneo Post, 11 March 2007

Thanks, Georgette!

Saturday, March 31, 2007

KLILF Lit Galore

The KLILF was spread out over a three day period, 28-30 March 2007 in Bangsar. The sessions I attended were held at Starbucks in Bangsar Shopping Village and Alexis Bistro. Hats off to Raman and his team at Silverfish Books for thinking out of the box and holding the events at these places. I enjoyed the talks and more so, the networking. It was a pleasure meeting with familiar names as well as lurkers at my blog. I could only attend the morning sessions and one-and-half afternoon ones as I had to rush back to round up the kids.

Eric, me and Tash Aw

Shannon Shah in conversation with Randa Abdel-Fattah

Kak Teh, Mariatini, Anedra and me

Azmi Talib, me, Raja Ahmad, Gerald Chuah and Kak Teh

Eddin Khoo with Brian Castro

Me, Helen Ann Peters, DK Hansra and Georgette Tan

Tash Aw’s Beginnings Workshop

It reminded me of Critical Appreciation during English Lit classes. Tash had us read some opening and ending passages from classics such as Emma, Farewell to Arms and Lolita.

He asked questions such as : What sort of mood was conjured? What are the images used? How about the choice of words?

Some of the things he shared with us :

You must have an arresting beginning. You have to drag the reader from the threshold into your world.

In Emma, this was the opening para : “Emma Woodhouse, handsome, clever, and rich, with a comfortable home and happy disposition, seemed to united some of the best blessings of existence; and had lived nearly twenty-one years in the world with very little to distress or vex her.”

I asked if we shouldn’t be showing rather than telling as in Emma’s opening. His reply : “Disregard rules. Do what works for you.” He loves adjectives. He is particularly enamoured with the choice of adjectives used in the first line. You couldn’t rearrange the words any other way without losing the cadence.

He then asked us to write the opening paragraph for this story: Razak is an ambitious guy who has his eyes on the CEO’s job. His wife, Amy, is beautiful and pushy. One day they invited the CEO, Tony, to their Kenny Hills home. They killed him and got rid of the body. Razak is tortured by his conscience and Amy becomes cranky. (For the more discerning participants, Macbeth quickly sprang to mind.)

He asked us to bear these in mind :

1. The opening must be representative of the rest of the novel – epic or intimate or humourous etc.
2. Give information while creating questions.
3. Drag the readers across the threshold into your novel.

The audience was very participative with dozens of hands shooting up when he asked for volunteers to read their pieces. I didn’t get to read out my passage. Here it is :

I see him in my dreams. He’s wearing his favourite bush jacket, the gold buttons gleaming like jewels in the sun. His hands are outstretched, as if he’s about to grab my hands and pump it vigorously. I extend my hands but he grabs my neck. I feel his fingers tightening.

Endings Workshop

Writers don’t often know how to end their novels because there are too many endings in mind.

Tash doesn’t like a neat Hollywood style ending. He prefers a fudged ending (as can be seen in Harmony Silk Factory).

We read and analyzed the ending passages of Farewell to Arms and Lolita. Then we did the ending for our story which had Razak meeting a sticky end and Amy committing suicide.

A young lady got up to read her piece.

“I’m experimenting with something,” she said. “I used the same image of the house in the beginning for the end too.”

Well, it turned out that quite a few of us experimented with the same concept. Another participant used the image of a spider’s web to represent entanglement both at the start and end.

I remember that was what Anne Tyler did in The Accidental Tourist where the novel opened with the protagonist in the car and ended with him in the taxi. If I’m not mistaken, in The Weekend Novelist, Robert Ray wrote of that as “framing.” Apparently there’s a name for it : elliptical ending.

Here’s mine :

I see her in my dreams. She’s dressed in a long flowing white gown, like a bride. She beckons to me with open arms. I want to embrace her but when I draw nearer, she vanishes. She has abandoned me and left me to face the harsh reality of cold prison walls.

When asked how he would write the novel, Tash said he would make it a first person narrative from Razak’s point of view and show his descent into madness. He would fudge the ending, suggesting a parallel in an oblique way.

Randa's Talk on moderate Muslim voices in the mainstream narrative

Randa’s book, Does My Head Look Big In This is about Amal, an Australian-Palestinian Muslim girl who decided to wear the hijab full time. In writing the book, Randa created a diverse range of Muslims as she didn’t want to moralize that those who wear the hijab are more pious or better than those who don’t.

Unfortunately I had to leave early to pick up the kids. On the way out, I bumped into Kak Teh who was buying Randa’s book and on seeing my hesitation when she asked if I was getting it too, she immediately offered to buy me one. Kak Teh, terima kasih. I’ve started on a few pages and it’s very good. I’ve passed it to my daughter to read first as I think it’s just up her alley.

Brian Castro's Talk on how family history can be used to create literature

Brian’s book Shanghai Dancing is based loosely on his family’s life in Shanghai, Hong Kong and Macau from the 1930s to 1960s. Some of the things he said :

- Shanghai Dancing is a fictional autobiography. For a writer, an autobiography is inventing himself, unlike say, an autobiography for a Prime Minister based on facts.

- In writing, it’s not truth you’re after. It’s the psychological truth. As a writer, you’re an inventor, a liar.

- When he was a child, he used to hide under the table and listened to the goings-on from there. He got the idea that his mother was good for truth, and his father good for invention. When she died, he decided that he has to invent the truth.

- He wouldn’t have been able to write the book were his parents still alive. His siblings are still alive but he changed their names in the book. He didn’t ask their permission to write about them as he wasn’t in touch with them. “Forget about the legal implications, I have no money anyway.”

- Readers today want something short. They have no time to appreciate language.

- If you have interesting things happening to you, that doesn’t mean they’ll be interesting to others. There must be a shape to it. You have to make it interesting to them.

I wanted to ask how to derive this ‘shape’ but I didn’t as I didn’t think he could give me a satisfactory answer given the time constrain. That’s my problem. I’ve got a bunch of narratives gleaned from the family closet but they’re all over the place like an amoeba.