Wandering through the aisles (sometimes ‘isles’) of a bookshop, hopping about the various blog sites, flipping through newsprint on the dining table, I know we have lots of wonderful Malaysian writers. Sometimes though, the ability to write well is not enough. What’s needed are ideas!

Writers are often asked where they get ideas from. For me, ideas come from:

1. An experience. A friend and I on a brief holiday couldn’t find a place to stay in Melaka and so slept in the car. This became the germ for my story “A Labour Day Weekend”.

2. A title to a story. I thought that “The Rape of Martha Teoh” would make a great title and so wrote a story around that.

3. Ideas from other writers. Xeus used Poe’s essay/story on being buried alive as an idea for a Dark City story.

4. History. Tash Aw couldn’t have written his novel without knowing about the Communists and the Japan Occupation of Malaya. I would guess that this was his inspiration.

5. A “What if?” question. I asked myself: what would happen if a Malay man had his heart replaced with the heart of a pig? This became a short play called “Pig Heart” which is my only play and is in the “Woman Who Grew Horns” collection.

6. Whilst writing. Almost every time, as I write a story, new ideas come to me which I may or may not use. Sometimes it might change the entire story.

As for inspiration, for me it plays only a small part in my writing. Writing is a craft which requires a great deal of mainly mental perspiration.

Every bit of writing comes from an idea. Where do you get your ideas from?

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