Finally, I’ve met Xeus. Malaysia’s Lady of popular fiction.

As I entered Bakerzine in One Utama, I saw a woman sitting alone. She flashed my book at me, “The Rape of Martha Teoh”, and I knew this was her.

Xeus carries no airs. Down to earth, energetic and chatty, she’s no doubt proud of her work, as she should be, but she also has a lively interest in all books.

Inevitably we discussed Stephen King. My favourite author too. We both loved ‘The Stand’ and ‘The Shining’. Indulging in rich desserts and calorie-filled chocolate, we both agreed that Stevie went a bit too literary with some of his later stuff. Neither of us have read ‘Lisey’s Story’ yet, so it’s something to look forward too. We agreed SK’s a fantastic writer with depth and meaning in a lot of his writing. Particularly, his short stories.

A lot of Xeus’s success comes from pure hard work. Making sure her book is in the shops. Ensuring there are enough copies. Talking to bookshop managers. Informing her distributor which outlets require more copies. Such zeal leads to success.

Xeus wishes she had more time for writing. She’s still awaitiing for more submissions for Dark Story 2.

Eric Frobes, my editor at Pelanduk and now MPH, arrived a little later. He had just returned from overseas. A well-deserved holiday I’m sure. My editor for more than 10 years, Eric is a book addict. His blog is a testimony to that.

With Eric’s eyes brightening with every novel he mentions, it still amazes me how Eric can spend all day reading and correcting manuscipts all day and also spend all his spare time reading. Sipping coffee, he told us about some of the new and exciting books coming out of MPH. We talked about how hard it is to get published, particularly overseas. With Xeus nodding in agreement, we admired all those Malaysians like Tash Aw and Yang Mei-Ooi who managed it.

Alas, I had to leave. Wish I could have spend more time talking and talking…leaving writing to later, much later.

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