On Saturday, I launched my 5th collection of short stories at the Georgetown Literary festival: The Rape of Nancy Ng: 13 Nightmares.
Unfortunately, because Anwar Ibrahim arrived an hour late for his talk (due to his flight being delayed) my book launch was moved to 6.30 pm instead of 5.45 pm.
Because of the late hour, we kept the launch short but sweet.
I was fortunate that both my son and daughter was also there this time, so it was bit of a family occasion. Although, from the book’s dramatic title, you may well guess that its contents can hardly be called family friendly.
Amir, my publisher, pointed out that technology or, rather, the dangers of technology appear to be a theme in this collection. I agreed with him. As he also mentioned, religious fundamentalism was another presence in the book. But to know for sure, I suppose you just have to read the stories.
My first short story collection, The Rape of Martha Teoh and Other Chilling Stories came out 21 years ago. This collection is, in a way, a sequel to that collection.
It took me 3 years to write the thing with most of the stories being tapped away in Chiang Mai where I was living at the time.
It includes the novella, Lodger. For David Bowie fans, you might recall his album of the same name. One of my stories written 21 years ago also took its name from a Bowie song. I also quoted him at the beginning of my novel, Dark Demon Rising. So, I suppose you can guess, that I’m a fan.
I do hope you enjoy these tales. I enjoyed writing them although the writing process took a lot longer than usual.
“You’re written a cookbook?” she asked, eyebrows raised.
“Yes, I have,” I reply with a grin.
“You write horror stuff and now you’ve come out with a cookbook?”
I nod. For indeed, I have.
People who know me for my fictional work are surprised that I write non-fiction. People who are familiar with my non-fiction stuff and taken aback at my dark writings.
This is a special month for me, for I’m launching one of each. That’s 2 books, one fiction and the other non-fiction. I’ll tell you about the former in another post, but for now let’s focus on the non-fiction one.
Yes, it’s a cook book and it’s co-authored by Chef Christina Hiew. We’re launching it on Thursday, 8 November at MPH Nusentral in KL.
This one is a very different kind of book launch for me as there’ll be food. And, from what I’ve tasted of Christina’s cooking, it’s going to be delicious!
I was asked to write an article for Unreserved magazine and so I did. It’s about ghouls that are common to South-East Asian. There are the 2 perfect Ps: these are the penanggalan and the pontianak. The article is out in the October issue.
I first saw Suzanne Vega in concert in London when I was 21. This time, in Melbourne at the Palais Theatre, I went with my daughter, who is right now of the same age, 21. Life can have strange coincidences. Life too, as we all know, moves incredibly fast.
As for Suzanne Vega, she seems to have hardly aged, from a distance anyway. Her vibrant, smoky voice sounded the same and she connected with the audience, telling them ever so often about how she came about writing each song. She mentioned that “Gypsy”, a tuneful number, filled with vulnerability, was mostly written when she was 18. She talked about influences on her music including Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen and Peter Gabriel.
She opened with Tom’s Diner, which immediately mesmerised the audience, followed by her hit “Luka”. She unwaveringly played songs from her albums “Solitude Standing” and “99.9 Fº”, as she said she would.
The louder numbers were from the “99.9 Fº” album, especially “Blood Makes Noise” which was interesting and, instead of Dylan going electric, was Vega going industrial.
After the encore, she capped off this enjoyable concert with “Marlene on the Wall”, “Left of Center” and “Tom’s Diner”.
The audience loved it. But I was left wondering why she chose to focus on these 2 albums and left out significant songs like “The Queen and the Soldier”, “Caramel” and “Tired of Sleeping” … but that, I suppose, is what artists do. They challenge you.
It was certainly good Suzanne Vega again. I hope I don’t have to wait till my grandchild is 21 though to see her again!
I was boarding a Chiang Mai to Kuala Lumpur flight when I fell into a conversation with a woman behind me. She was Thai and married to a Malaysian. I asked what she thought of KL. She said she didn’t much like it as it was a just a big city like Bangkok. I understood perfectly as Chiang Mai, although it could be busy with traffic snarls and over-building, was not cut off from nature. It is only a short ride to lakes, waterfalls, paddy fields, pristine streams and temples built into caves. Then she said, “I don’t like the toilets. Dirty!”
It was all too true. Why are Malaysian toilets so dirty? It’s not because we sometimes use the bidet spray, for Chiang Mai toilets use them too. The toilets at KLIA can be appalling and a sad welcome for visitors to Malaysia. Why is it kept in such a bad state? Is it all the foreign workers here who can’t use the facilities properly? I doubt it for I recently ventured into a wine bar and found to toilets to be awful and not a foreign worker in sight.
Perhaps with the new government, attitudes might change. We can start making our country better in all aspects.
It begins with those responsible for the toilets, whether it’s the operator of the mall, airport or shop. Then the users have to respect the facilities. Perhaps awards can be given for the best and worst toilets within a certain vicinity. Anyone like to start handing out these awards?
Perhaps regular inspections by the local authorities are needed. Perhaps they should fine those that have unsightly, dirty facilities.
I’m writing this at an upmarket cafe in an office building in Damansara Height. The ceiling above the urinals in the food court below had been demolished which means no downlight and so it was dark. Water pooled on the floor.
I just felt like fleeing from the place . . . and writing this blog.
By referencing a well-reputed news organisation, many of us might think that this fake news post, put up by some anonymous person, is actually the news story. Even if we didn’t think so, we might conclude that the fake news post is a summary of the news story.
The truth, however, is far from that.
The Washington Post news story actually says this:
“The nation’s top nutrition advisory panel has decided to drop its caution about eating cholesterol-laden food . . .
The finding follows an evolution of thinking among many nutritionists who now believe that, for healthy adults, eating foods high in cholesterol may not significantly affect the level of cholesterol in the blood or increase the risk of heart disease.
The greater danger in this regard, these experts believe, lies not in products such as eggs, shrimp or lobster, which are high in cholesterol, but in too many servings of foods heavy with saturated fats, such as fatty meats, whole milk, and butter.”
So the news story is that eating high cholesterol foods does not necessarily increase BLOOD cholesterol.
It does NOT say that one should not be concerned about having high blood cholesterol.
Nor does it declare that there is no difference between LDL and HDL.
Nor does it say that high blood cholesterol doesn’t cause heart disease.
Nor does it state anything about stopping the use of the drug Lipitor.
The fake news post is dangerous.
Some people may actually now follow this advise and stop taking the drug as prescribed by their doctors. Others may now indulge in foods high in saturated fats, thinking that this is now a healthy diet.
You may wonder who, or which parties, are putting out such fake news posts.
Could it perhaps be coming from the global dairy and meat industry?
One can only guess.
In a world riddled by fake news, we need to be so very careful. Our antenna, our feelers, need to be active, constantly hunting out those deceptive news stories. We need to teach ourselves how to weed out the fake stuff from genuine news items. We must never share something if we’re not 100% sure. In a world where we’re constantly scrolling and clicking, this can be difficult. But we must be even more discerning, more cautious than ever before.
Today, I’ll be coaching part of a creative writing course at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre as part of Bookfest@Malaysia 2018.
As part of the course, we’ll be going through a mind map, which covers the many facets of writing. I’m sharing it here with you, even if you’re not attending the course, and I hope that you find it helpful in your own writing.
Writing can be frustrating, it can also be tremendously fun. I hope you enjoy creating your own stories, as I do mine.