A couple of weeks back I was delighted to find several copies of Dark City 2 waiting for me. Once the brown paper was ripped away I beheld the stunning cover by Kenny Mah. (Why on earth I haven’t used him on my recent books still confounds me!)

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I read the Editor’s Note, flipped through the stories and then the bio of each writer. The first thing that struck me was that my bio just seemed too long. Next time, I’ll need to be more succinct!

The 4th story was my contribution – “Hawker Man”. I wrote it about 12 months ago when Xeus approached me for a tale. I was grateful for the opportunity as I hadn’t written any fiction (well hadn’t finished any fiction, to be more accurate) for a few years. Although she did ask for a twist at the end of the tale, I told her I wasn’t a twisty kind of guy. So you’ll find that “Hawker Man” hasn’t got much of a twist. But still, I’m pretty proud of it . . . especially the hawker man swinging his white cloth in the air, grinning, as his slippers slap the floor toward you!

I then turned to the first story “Strong Chemistry” by Xeus. Three pages into the story I went “Wow! This is bloody good!”. I have to admit I said it with a touch of envy. This woman can write lah. This is Poe’s “The Pit and the Pendulum” Malaysian-style!

I couldn’t resist reading Xeus’s second tale – “Signature Spa”. A story after my own heart, indeed it was. I was set adrift by the scents of essential oils and I could almost feel the soothing treatments as the oils permeated my skin. I could guess, with trembling delight, at what was going to happen – it was like watching a car crash in slow motion. But the gourmet twist was a surprise. For me, it’s “Paradise Revisited” in 2008!

My congrats to Xeus on her new book, not only as author but editor. Congratulations as well to all those whose stories were published. For those who are published for the first time, it is a very memorable occasion, like no other.

Well done, you guys!

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