Hey, it’s almost August and I’ve only received 2 entries for my Favourite Tales Competition. I’m hoping for more of them rolling in soon. Closing date is Merdeka Day.

There’s an article on me in a recent issue of Tell Magazine. To compile the article, journalist, Michelle Gunaselan, came up with a series of questions. Here’s some of them, including my answers . . .

What is your all time favorite, spine-chilling story/novel?

I love Stephen King’s earlier writings: “Salem’s Lot”, “The Stand”, “The Shinning”. Another captivating novel is Peter Straub’s “Ghost Story”. Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Tell Tale Heart” still gives me the creeps. So does “Dracula”. It’s impossible to pick one.

You’ve received much recognition overseas and even in Singapore, do you feel that you’ve received the same amount of attention here?

To be quite honest I don’t look for recognition. I enjoy what I do and that’s enough for me. Of course I’d love my books to sell more. I wrote the stories to entertain, and I’d like to share them with more readers. And more publicity (or recognition) does lead to more sales.

How do you think the Malaysian audience looks at the horror genre?

Malaysian readers love horror. It may come from us being more superstitious. It may also be the result of the mixing of so many cultures, each with their own set of evil spirits! And we Malaysian believe in all of them. Horror also tends to be plot driven and hence easy and quick to read.

Your writings span a number of different topics, is it easy for you to maintain this versatility?

If a subject attracts my attention enough then I’ll write about it. So it’s not a question about being versatile. It’s about going where your heart leads you.

You’re an avid blogger, what do you think about the growth of the Malaysian blogging scene and the controversy as well as dialogue that has come out of it?

First the controversy. This generally only applies to blogs that criticise the authorities or start unfound rumours. The majority of blogs are on-line diaries written to be shared. Some, like mine, focus on a particular topic. I think the growth of the blogging scene is wonderful. To blog you need to write for an audience. So purely through practise, local writing will improve.

What tips would you give writers who are starting out?

Read as a matter of habit. Expand your reading to books you normally wouldn’t read. Write your first draft. Know that writing is re-writing. You’ll have to re-write your piece several times. Buy a book on creative writing. Know that as a writer you’ll constantly be learning your craft. Go to a course if you can find one. Write fearlessly.

Three words to describe your book.

44 Cemetery Road is Dark, Dangerous, Mystifying

Have you read any spine-chilling books? What’s your favourite?